Sermon: The Kingdom of God (Luke 13:18-21)

The Kingdom of God

Luke 13:18-21

All through Jesus’ ministry He has experienced opposition.  Whether it is Satan and the demonic realm or the religious leaders or even at times, His own followers His ministry has been opposed.  Luke, probably more than any other Gospel writer, seeks to show us that very thing.  Luke also shows, more than any other Gospel writer, that Jesus’ ministry is one of preaching the Kingdom of God and healing.

If we were one of His followers, back then, we would have heard this same message many times, some 18-19 times in the Gospel of Luke already.

What’s troubling to the disciples is that yeah, they’ve seen Jesus heal and do miracles, such as the woman last week, but they’ve not seen anything that might resemble a kingdom.  They believe Jesus and they believe His credentials and yet if He is the Messiah why then all this opposition and why doesn’t He begin His rule and set up His kingdom?  What was confusing to them was rather than the religious leaders of His day signing on, they’re signing out.  Rather than lining up to follow Jesus, they were lining up to destroy Him.  It doesn’t seem at times that Jesus is helping matters all that much either.  Like we saw last week, He called the synagogue ruler a hypocrite.  Not a great way to get the religious leaders on your side.  The disciples do believe but things are not adding up very well.  They were not seeing the visible manifestation of a Kingdom.

They have also read the prophecies like Isaiah 9…

Is 9:7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. 

Lk 1:33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

There seems to be some discrepancies.  The problem was not with Jesus; the problem was the disciple’s understanding of what God’s Kingdom is all about and what it looks like.

Because of their confusion Jesus addresses the Kingdom of God.

This is the Word of God…

Lk 13:18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?

Lk 13:19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

Lk 13:20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?

Lk 13:21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

1. God’s Kingdom Starts Very Small

Lk 13:18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?

Lk 13:19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden,

I once possessed a few actual mustard seed from Palestine.  They were so small you could barely see them.  They were smaller that a period on your paper, smaller than a grain of salt or sand.  They were just barely visible to the eye.  Inside was everything needed for life.

Jesus also uses the comparison of a small pinch of yeast added to three measures of flour.  Three measures are equal to about 50 pounds of dough.  It is enough to feed about 150 people.  Yet, all it needed to raise was a small pinch of yeast.  The yeast like the mustard seed seems very insignificant.

What’s Jesus’ point?  He wants the disciples to understand something very important.  They were in the beginning stages of the Kingdom of God.  It was small and seemed very insignificant up against the Roman Empire or the great realms of the day.  Jesus’ point is that even though God’s Kingdom then seemed small and insignificant, He didn’t want His disciples to be fooled into thinking that it wasn’t going to grow.

The Roman Empire came and went like all the other superpowers and yet God’s Kingdom is still here.

What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God and the exercise of His royal authority.  The Kingdom is not currently something with borders and a capitol but invisible.  It is a spiritual kingdom, not of this world.

Whenever men and women, boys and girls submit to God’s authority and He reins in their lives, the Kingdom of God is present.  It started small.  After Jesus ascended into heaven there were only about 500 total.  Now, there are estimates into the millions.

What the disciples witnessed in those days was a mustard seed’s worth of God’s Kingdom.  Raising the dead, healing the sick, and forgiving sins was simply the very beginning.  If that is compared to a mustard seed and a pinch of yeast, just think what the Kingdom will be like when it is in its fullness.  The Kingdom of God is growing.

2. God’s Kingdom Keeps Growing

and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

Who would have ever imagined that from such a tiny, almost microscopic seed a tree some 8-12 feet tall would appear?  This tiny insignificant seed would produce a tree so large that birds actually build permanent nests in the branches.  Who would have thought that such a small pinch of yeast could permeate 50 pounds of dough and cause it to feed more than a hundred and fifty people?

The BEGINNINGS of the Gospel were exceedingly small. It was like “a mustard seed cast into the garden.” It was a religion which seemed at first so feeble, and helpless, and powerless, that it could not live. Its first founder was One who was poor in this world, and ended His life by dying the death of a malefactor on the cross. Its first adherents were a little company, whose number probably did not exceed a thousand when the Lord Jesus left the world. Its first preachers were a few fishermen and publicans, who were, most of them, unlearned and ignorant men. Its first starting point was a despised corner of the earth, called Judea, a petty tributary province of the vast empire of Rome. Its first doctrine was eminently calculated to call forth the enmity of the natural heart. Christ crucified was to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness. Its first movements brought down on its friends persecution from all quarters. Pharisees and Sadducees, Jews and Gentiles, ignorant idolaters and self-conceited philosophers, all agreed in hating and opposing Christianity. It was a sect everywhere spoken against. These are no empty assertions. They are simple historical facts, which no one can deny. If ever there was a religion which was a little grain of seed at its beginning, that religion was the Gospel. –J. C. Ryle on Luke

However small it’s beginning, the Kingdom grew and will continue to grow.  It will keep growing until its final fulfillment at the second coming of our Lord.

There has never been nor will there ever be a force on earth that can stop this growth.  Wars will not stop it.  Persecution will not stop it.  Skeptics and atheists will not stop it.  Satan will not stop it.

The Kingdom of God will continue to increase.  Jesus is not teaching the Postmillennial View that says that more and more people will be saved until all the world is Christian and then Christ will return.  God’s Kingdom started very small and has continued to grow and will keep growing.

3. God’s Kingdom Within

Lk 13:20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God?

Lk 13:21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

There is another way in which this rule and rein of God continues to grow.  As believers, it grows within.  This is the picture of the yeast and the dough.  Just as yeast permeates the entire lump of dough so God’s rule will permeate our entire being.  The Kingdom is growing within our hearts and will continue to do so until we either die or Christ returns.

The Kingdom of God will, however, not grow merely to outward greatness but, like the leaven which leavens the whole loaf, it will one day transform the whole life of every believer and of the whole of saved mankind to perfect holiness. –Geldenhuys

They were no doubt getting a little confused and discouraged.  Have you ever been confused and discouraged?  What about when it comes to your walk with Christ?  Have you ever thought you’d be farther along than what you are or others around you would be?  Perhaps you’ve been discouraged at the growth in your own life.  Take heart beloved God isn’t finished yet.

His Kingdom may have started small in your life but it will grow and continue to grow until Christ completely rules and reigns in your life.

Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together [h] for good, [1] for [i] those who are called according to his purpose.

Rom 8:29 For those whom he [j] foreknew he also [k] predestined [l] to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be [m] the firstborn among many brothers.

Rom 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also [n] justified, and those whom he justified he also [o] glorified.

Rom 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? [p] If God is for us, who can be [1] against us?

Rom 8:32 [q] He who did not spare his own Son but [r] gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Rom 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? [s] It is God who justifies.

Rom 8:34 [t] Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–[u] who is at the right hand of God, [v] who indeed is interceding for us. [1]

Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Rom 8:36 As it is written, [w] “For your sake [x] we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Rom 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than [y] conquerors through [z] him who loved us.

Rom 8:38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,

Rom 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The key in our passage today is to remember things may look small and insignificant in your life.  Your faith at times may seem small.  Your ministry to others may seem insignificant.  Your fruit may seem insignificant.  But if God has saved you, you will grow and eventually be glorified.

We must learn to trust what Christ says even though for now, it’s invisible.  His Kingdom is growing and someday when He returns it will cover the earth.

Jesus wins is the story of the Bible.

Also remember, don’t be discouraged when it seems like your progress in following Christ seems small or insignificant.  God will work as you work and one day your faith will stand strong like a great oak tree.  Take heart, for now things may seem small, one day they will be seen for what they truly are…