Luke: Kingdom Realities (Part 1) 07/22/18

Message: Series Title

‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’

Message: ‘Kingdom realities’                       Text: Luke 13:10-21

KoG = Kingdom of God

 Introduction:

Question: What comes to mind when I say the KoG?

Often, almost instinctually, we think of the KoG as a geographical location: the Millennium (1000 yr reign of Jesus on the earth) or heaven, the Christian’s eternal home.

But that was not how Jesus most often taught it.

  • Yes, I do think Jesus has in mind eternal life with Him, and yes, that includes heaven as our eternal home, but it’s… so much more than that.
  • I believe when Jesus speaks of the KoG His emphasis in not on the ‘then and there’ (heaven) but on the ‘here and now’ the present reality of the Kingdom.

As Christians, often our default response is the future aspect of the KoG when it should be the present reality of the Kingdom. Why?

  • Because we don’t see the future aspect of the KoG placing any precise responsibilities on our lives today.
  • However, if the KoG is a present reality, then we do have Biblical expectations of how we’re to live in God’s Kingdom… right now! And that we don’t much like.

With that said, Jesus’ intent, is still for us to focus on the ‘here and now,’ the present reality of the KoG. And that means living today with the inherent responsibilities of citizenship in the Kingdom.

So, what are the inherent responsibilities of the KoG or to put it another term, what is ‘The way of the kingdom?

Well, that would be a year long sermon series I’d like to do some time, but for now let me just give you the big picture.

The KoG:

  • Is the realm where we live out our new life in Christ. It’s our new spiritual citizenship where Jesus is King.
  • And since Jesus repeatedly taught about the KoG all during His ministry, it means it should be central to how we live.

Background: In our text, Jesus will once again confront a religious leader with a truth of His Kingdom.

You see, they too only saw it as a future event.

  • But, their view of that future event was colored by their own ideas of what it should be, not what God’s Word said it would be.

They also saw strictly keeping the law of Moses, (as they interpreted them) and the traditions and laws added by the religious leaders over the years, as the means to earn entrance into the KoG. Jesus called them on this in Mark 7:6-9.

 PP: And He said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And He said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:6–9)

And that strict adherence to the law and traditions hardened their hearts towards the

  • especially the gentiles and even those Jews who refused or were just unable to follow their overabundance of religious rules.

 

In our text, Jesus will reveal in a few aspects of the KoG that they refused to see:

PP:

  • The KoG is home to compassion.
  • The KoG is a life of freedom.
  • The KoG starts out small, but will grow bigger than expected!
  • The KoG permeates all of the worlds people groups.

So, open your Bibles to Luke 13:10 where Jesus will show us ‘The way of the kingdom’.

  1. Luke 13:10-17 KoG: Freedom

PP: A. Luke 13:10-13  Jesus heals

Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 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. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

At first glance, it seems this event is out of place. If Jesus is going to talk about ‘The way of the kingdom’, what does a healing miracle have to do with that?

OK, we get that in the future KoG Christian’s will  experience the ultimate healing;

  • No sickness, no broken bones, no cuts and scrapes, no mental health issues and no death…

but what does it mean for life in the KoG now?

Jesus’ display of compassion in the miraculous healing of this woman will be set in contrast to the hardened heart of the ruler of the synagogue as we’ll see next week.

  • You see, the KoG is a place of heartfelt, active compassion towards others.

The miraculous healing of this woman is more about freeing her from bondage than healing her physical deformity… especially when we see that her physical illness was the result of demonic oppression. But more on that later.

Freedom in the KoG will be another significant part of Jesus’ message in our text.

  • Jesus will confront the ruler of the synagogue and all those who are not only bound by the chains of a legalistic adherence to the law / traditions,
  • but who continue to wrap those chains around their lives, and the lives of others,
  • in a futile attempt to please God and earn entrance into His kingdom.

OK, that’s the big pie, let’s take a few bites out of the text.

The scene has changed from Luke 13:1-9. Jesus is now speaking in a Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath.

While teaching, Jesus notices a woman who was probably trying hard not to be noticed by anyone. Think about it:

First, she’s a woman.

  • Women were prohibited from worshiping in the inner court of the Temple in Jerusalem, but could worship in the local synagogues;
  • Not to speak or to actively participate, but to be quiet and listen.

Second, she had a severe deformity.

  • For 18 years, she was hunched over, she could only see the dirt, mud and gravel under her feet, never able to look people in the eye.
  • In that day, most believed that the greater a person’s suffering, the more heinous their sin.
  • So this woman faced great shame for her condition… Children would laugh at her and adults would ridicule her and want nothing to do with her.

Dr. Luke tells us her condition was not hereditary nor was it an accident of some kind, it was the result of a demonic spirit.

  • But, Luke’s description doesn’t imply she was demon possessed.
  • Jesus didn’t call the demon to come out, but instead He healed her just as any other He had healed who had a physical illness.

Now, I want you to notice what we can easily miss when we read this because of our own, well, guilt.

Question: Where was this woman who was obviously in not only great physical pain, but who suffered the shame placed on her by the ‘healthy / more religious’ people around her?

This woman’s love for and commitment to God, is seen, in that

  • Even after 18 years of painful suffering.
  • Even after 18 years of being ridiculed and shamed for the sin the people thought she had committed.
  • She was still going to worship God, on the Sabbath, in the synagogue.

Don’t you find that utterly amazing? Kind of makes the excuses we make for not being here on Sundays, kind of lame, doesn’t it?

  • Just think of what she would have missed had she decided to stay home that Sabbath.

Jesus, while teaching, not only notices this deformed and disgraced woman, not only calls out to her, but calls her to come close to Him.

  • Are you beginning to see Jesus’ heart of compassion?
  • Can you imagine all the religious people in the synagogue starting to get a bit uncomfortable with what Jesus is doing?

Then Jesus speaks life to her… kingdom life.

  • Woman, you are freed from your disability. And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight

Try placing yourself in her shoes for a moment. What might be running through her mind:

  • Freedom… to live without constant pain.
  • Freedom…to stand up straight.
  • Freedom… to look people in the eyes.
  • Freedom… to see the stars in the sky at night, to see the faces of family members.
  • Freedom… from ridicule, from verbal abuse.
  • Freedom… to no longer be seen as an evil sinner.
  • Freedom!

Notice the woman asked nothing of Jesus. Yet, Jesus, with just a word and a touch, healed her.  And completely transformed her life forever!

Think about it. She was deformed/disabled for 18 years, no one could heal her. Yet with a word and a touch, she’s healed… and she immediately stood up straight, without pain, and praises God.

  • Perhaps, there were whispers in the crowd ‘Could this Jesus really be our long-awaited hope, could He be the Messiah of God?’

I think the whispers made their way to the ears of the ruler of the synagogue and he knew he had to put a stop to it…

  • So, in total disregard to the woman’s miraculous healing,
  • from the hardness of his heart,
  • Her rebukes Jesus for working on the Sabbath, for breaking God’s Law.

The power of Almighty God, reached out and touched this poor, broken woman. And with great compassion,

  • Jesus healed her; He broke the chains that bound her, He set her free.

That my friends, was a direct intervention of the present reality of the KoG.

  • Not a future, far off Kingdom, but a ‘here and now,’ display of Kingdom power.

And the ruler of the synagogue missed it. More on that next week.

Life for that woman would never be the same. And her joy revealed that.

When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

  • This woman’s pain had been replaced by praise!
  • The quietness of her shame had been replaced by her shouts of glory to God!
  • The bondage that held her captive had been replaced with freedom by the compassionate hand of a gracious God!

Yes, the KoG that is ‘not yet’ has proven itself to be ‘already’ in our midst.

 Conclusion: In Luke 17:20-21 we will read:

PP: Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

Make no mistake, the KoG is already here. And as followers of Jesus Christ, as citizens of that Kingdom, we must not only recognize it, but be transformed by it.

Christian author and scholar C. S. Lewis wrote:

PP: The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought. . . into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin. (Rodney Buchannan)

Christian, as citizens of His Kingdom, Jesus wants to inject His life, His thoughts, His attitudes, His actions, His Kingdom presence, into your life.

  • One of those attitudes/actions is a heart of compassion for others.

In the midst of all that was going on, Jesus took the time to notice the brokenness of the woman in the synagogue and acted with compassion towards her.

  • In all that’s going on in your life, do you take time to notice the broken; here at CBC, in your neighborhood, in your workplace or school?
  • Do you move beyond just noticing to acting compassionately towards the broken around you? Even if it will disturb the ‘norm’ in your life?
  • Can you see past their brokenness and speak words of comfort and of hope, into their lives?

I fear many Christians are too much like the religious leaders in Jesus day.

  • They have the form of godliness w/o a heart of compassion towards God or His people.
  • They go mechanically through the motions of the Christian life, they speak Jesus’ name on their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.
  • While saved from the penalty of their sin, they’ve yet to make room for the KoG; in their lives, in their hearts, in their day to day reality.

Pastor and theologian, John Wesley, was like that too.

  • During his crossing of the Atlantic back to England after a disastrous missionary endeavor, John Wesley had been on board with a bunch of German Moravians who had a genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • During a storm at sea, Wesley was gripped by fear for his life, but these people were singing praises to God. When he got back to England, he started attending their meetings.
  • On May 24, 1738, as Wesley listened to a brother read from the preface of Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans, he felt his heart “strangely warmed.”
  • From then on, Wesley declared, he had only “one point of view—to promote so far as I am able; vital, practical religion; and by the grace of God to beget, preserve, and increase the life of God in the souls of men”.
  • Wesley’s phrase, “the life of God in the souls of men,” is the difference between dead religion and the power of reality with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Steve Cole)

The Jews in Jesus’ day had a dead religion, many Christians today, although perhaps saved by God’s grace, fail to live out the reality of that salvation…

  • Which is the KoG in them, transforming them into the likeness of Christ.

And instead of freedom, they’re still bound to practicing a dead religion.

PP: Next Slide

Can I ask?

  • Christian, is there something, someone, binding you this morning?
  • Are there chains that have been wrapped around your life, or that you’ve placed there, so that you can’t see the KoG in your midst?

Or

  • Are you free to immerse yourself in the KoG so that you’re daily being transformed by it?
  • Are you free to display Kingdom attitudes and actions to those around you?
  • Are you free to glorify God not only with your shouts of praise but with your thoughts, attitudes and actions?
  • Are you free to join Jesus in His work of building His kingdom in your sphere of influence?

Are you following ‘The way of the kingdom?