The Kingdom of God
August 21, 2022 | The Kingdom of God| Luke 13:10-17
(Click here for the sermon audio)
What does the kingdom of God look like?
Would you recognize it?
This was the question for a group of worshiping Jews gathered in a local Synagogue Jesus had stopped in during his travels to Jerusalem.
There is a story that happened about 15 years ago when the Queen of England was on her yearly trip to Scotland. Some American tourists, not only did not recognize her, but asked her if she had ever met the Queen!
I wonder if they ever heard or read this story and realized that they had been talking to her face to face that day!
It’s one thing to miss realizing you are talking to someone important, it’s altogether different to have the king of kings and lord of lords in your presence and not only miss it, but miss out on what he is doing.
As for the Jewish worshipers that day, some of them experienced it firsthand, some witnessed it, some rejected it, but all were affected by it.
Luke 13:10-21 (ESV)
The Kingdom Manifested (10-13)
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.
Both the location, the local synagogue, and the day, on the Sabbath are important details recorded by Luke.
Jesus often ministered and taught in the synagogues as he travelled. One of his first recorded visits, if not his first, of his preaching ministry was at his hometown synagogue in Nazareth.
Luke 4:16-22 (ESV) 16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.
Our account today is the last recorded ministry he conducts at a synagogue. These two events serve as great bookends of his ministry. He began by declaring what the kingdom of God would like like when it came and finished by displaying it.
The condition of the woman- disfigured, 18 years, unable to fix it, still worshiping
The compassion of Jesus- Jesus saw her, he called her
The complete healing of her disability- you are freed from your disability
The conclusion- she worshiped God
Moving from oppression to freedom, this is what the kingdom looks like, this is what it produces where it is. Not everyone welcomes it, as we will see, some outright reject it.
The kingdom rejected
14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”
What a slab of ecclesiastical granite! He had no heart to pity the poor bent woman’s plight, no eye for the beauty of Christ’s compassion, no soul to rejoice with the woman’s deliverance, no ear for her music of praise. - R. Kent Hughes
The reason for his disapproval?- He believed Jesus violated the sabbath
In studying for this sermon I researched current sabbath laws for the practicing Jew and I was overwhelmed by the level at which they will endeavor to not violate the sabbath.
In his anger, he rebuked the crowd, but not Jesus directly, why?
Because the miracle was undeniable (the woman was standing straight and praising God), the meaning was unavoidable (this man was obviously from God), the man was uncontrollable (Jesus didn't follow their rules).
This was a pattern with Jesus in the synagogue.
He would manifest the kingdom of God in the midst of the people by restoring someone who needed it and those in power would get irritated, angry, and ultimately try and figure out how to stop him.
Matthew 12:9-14 (ESV) 9 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10 And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.
Luke 6:6-11 (ESV) 6 On another Sabbath, he entered the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 And the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse him. 8 But he knew their thoughts, and he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” And he rose and stood there. 9 And Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 And after looking around at them all he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored. 11 But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
The kingdom didn’t look like this man thought it should, the king didn’t act like he thought he should, so this man not only rejected it, but sought to prevent it from going any further.
The kingdom defended (15-17)
15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.
Jesus exposed their gross hypocrisy in caring for their neighbor. Jesus references a very specific portion of Sabbath law here when he calls them hypocrites.
They had strict Sabbath rules concerning the care of their camels, donkeys, horses, and goats. What each kind could be led with, what they could and could not carry. Evidently carrying a bell is work and the animals were forbidden.
Here's the ridiculous thing that Jesus points out. All of these careful rules so they could take care of their animals and make sure they had water and food on the Sabbath, but they had no such level of compassion for this woman!
Ought not this woman- strong words, not only should she be, but it is necessary
Put to shame- blush with shame
How shameful it is to be called out for something so obvious!
But don’t we do the same thing? Get up, put on nice clothes, drive to church, go to lunch, every Sunday while people around us don’t have homes to get up in, a decent change of clothes, enough food to eat? Don’t we fill our Sundays up with unimportant things while the people around us are literally in bondage, desperately needing the freedom that the kingdom of God offers?
We must be careful that our religious duties don't stop with taking care of ourselves or those who benefit us but to extend compassion and care for the sick, the poor, and the needy.
The kingdom explained (18-21)
18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 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.”
20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”
These growth parables as they have been called, both illustrate the same central point. Both start small and result in much larger impacts than could be expected
This religious leader didn't think much of this lady's restoration, but Jesus' point was the kingdom of God works in small ways just like this. Not big moments, although they do happen (Pentecost), but the ordinary means are just like the seed or the leaven.
We must be careful that we don't miss what God is doing because it seems small or insignificant in the moment.
This encounter is a perfect picture of salvation.
The woman was hopelessly affected in her condition, unable to do anything to make it better, she encountered a compassionate savior who not only initiated the encounter but called her to himself. He lovingly set her free from the bondage that she had experienced most of her life and she praised God from the very depths of her soul.
This is what the kingdom does, working in one life at a time, individually, a life here, a life there, freeing enslaved men and women and turning them into true worshipers of God.
May we never forget it and never miss it. Amen