Wednesday, November 28, 2012



Here in Luke 13:18 Jesus turns their attention back to His most favorite subject-the kingdom. NOTE the two illustrations Jesus uses to describe the kingdom.

Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches."
The mustard seed is the smallest seed to be sown in the garden, yet when it grows it grows to the size of a tree. The tree is big enough and strong enough that birds are able to perch in its branches. So, the kingdom is like a mustard seed and once it is planted in the hearts of people, it has incredible growth. Incredible!

Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough." 

The second image Jesus uses is the yeast or leaven that is kneaded into the dough. When yeast is introduced into the dough, it permeates the entire lump of dough. You cannot extract the yeast back out again. In other words, this process is irreversible. And so, the kingdom of God, once introduced will continue to spread in such a way that it can't be stopped. It's irreversible!

This has a lot of implication to what we are doing. We are doing all we can do to walk with Jesus-to be stubborn followers of Jesus and His kingdom. Now, as we introduce people along our spiritual journey to Jesus and His kingdom principles, we participate in the planting and watering of the seed into the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

These two illustrations of the kingdom-the mustard seed and the yeast-give me great encouragement as we walk along in two ways:
FIRST-No matter how small the message of Jesus and His kingdom seem to be as we measure it through the responses from those who are listening, it will grow incredibly. So, be encouraged.

SECOND-No matter how little the beginning response is, the kingdom will spread in an irreversible way. So, you can count on it.
You know what both of these images say to me? The growth of the kingdom is inevitable, but it will take more time that I would like. It's just like fruitfulness. There is no such thing as instant fruit. In God's time the kingdom will blossom in such a way so that it cannot be stopped!

Not only does it take time, but this timing process serves another purpose. This timing gives me the time to focus on my own growth process. Over the years I've spent too much of my time and energy focusing on reaching out to others. What I'm realizing is that I must focus on reaching myself. Unless the Lord has my heart, I have nothing significant or life-giving to offer others.

Learn from my experience. Before heading out into your OUTREACH programs and strategies with your family and friends, make sure you are fully into INREACH-allowing Jesus to do His work in your life in His time.



At this point we come to a very common scene-Jesus attending and speaking at a local synagogue. He was viewed as a visiting rabbi and therefore invited to speak. After awhile, people began to anticipate that He would be teaching.
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 

While speaking, Jesus noticed a woman who was badly crippled sitting in the congregation. "When He saw her" gives a hint that He saw her with His heart of compassion. And when He saw her, He called her forward in order to "set her free" from her infirmity. He touched her and "immediately" she was healed and was thankful to God for her healing.
Now the synagogue leader seems to be embarrassed, because Jesus healed this woman on the Sabbath. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath."

His response made it clear that the keeping of the law of the Sabbath was more important than a woman being healed. Think of it. This poor lady had been crippled for 18 years, bound in her knotted body. Can you imagine, not being able to straighten up for 18 years? And then, all at once she finds a miraculous relief of her personal pain. She was free! It didn't matter to her how this happened, who caused it to happen or that it happened on the Sabbath. She was free!

The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" 

Jesus' response is to appeal to them that the law of the Sabbath doesn't bind you from doing something compassionate for your animals. It's the natural thing to do. How much more ought we to show compassion on a woman who has been bound for 18 years.

NOTE what happens: When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. 

All of those who were threatened by Jesus' non-traditional ways were deeply humiliated by what He just did. Jesus acted out boldly on the Sabbath with a constant question in His heart, "What can I do to help?" He was leading out in the ways the synagogue leaders wish they could be able to do. Then, note that the people were delighted with the wonderful things He was doing.

This response is typical for today as well. It's not the people who are threatened; it's the leadership. Jesus' work doesn't embarrass the common, ordinary people. He doesn't embarrass the humble. Jesus doesn't even embarrass the various sinners. Jesus gets under the skin of the leadership who by their very positions and attitudes over promising and under delivering. They promise freedom and deliver bondage-binding people up into a "club membership" that must keep feeding the massive, religious machine.

This religious machine tends to become everything Jesus is not-impersonal, distant, judgmental and condemning, exclusive. And in the process of making the machine larger, more and more people are repulsed by it and turned off from the only one who can bring them hope and peace-JESUS.
The religious machine has been highly successful in turning Jesus into "another" Jesus-a Jesus who is not irresistible, but easy to resist. So, most people have not rejected Jesus, but a poor caricature of Him.

Rather than end on a downer, I want to share with you a quote from a past president of Harvard University in the '70's. He said: "The mark of an educated person is that he has the ability to discuss Jesus of Nazareth without adolescent embarrassment." When the true Jesus is lifted up, all men and women are drawn to Him from every nation and tribe. That's the Jesus I am doing my best to follow. There is no religious machine ever built that can produce this Jesus.

Check Him out! He can be found in the pages of your local Bible-in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts. He is there day and night, waiting to meet you.