Luke: Striving…for the kingdom (Part 2): 08/12/18

Message: Series Title

‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’

Message: Striving… for the kingdom’pt.2

Text: Luke 13:22-30

 Introduction: Pastor Stephen Founier tells the following story:

  • There was a missionary who went to Venezuela for the first time and was struggling with the language. He visited one of the local churches and took a seat in the front row.
  • So as not to make a fool of himself, he decides to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He decides to follow the man sitting next to him in the front pew.
  • As they sing, the man claps his hands, so the missionary recruit claps, too. When the man stands up to pray, the missionary stands up, too. When the man sits down, the missionary sits down. Everything seemed to be going well.
  • Later in the service the pastor says some words and the man next to him stands up, so the missionary stands up, too.
  • Suddenly a hush falls over the entire congregation. The missionary looks around and sees that no one else is standing.

So he meekly sits down.

  • After the service ends, the missionary greets the preacher. “I take it you don’t speak Spanish,” the preacher says. The missionary replies, “No, I don’t. It’s that obvious?” “Well yes,” the preacher says. “I announced that the Acosta family had a new-born baby boy, and I asked the proud father to please stand up.”

It just goes to show that you need to be careful who you follow. (end quote)

That’s Jesus’ thought as well.

Repeatedly throughout Luke’s Gospel, Jesus has either directly or indirectly, encouraged, challenged people to follow Him.

  • Because He rules in the KoG, those who, by faith, choose to follow Him, He rewards with citizenship in His glorious Kingdom.

Background: A little background so we can get caught up.

Jesus has been teaching about the KoG. And He’s stepped up the urgency of His teaching, by calling people to radical discipleship, to giving their all, for Him.

Remember

PP: And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23, ESV)

Last week we saw Jesus traveling through towns and villages heading towards Jerusalem. Along the way someone asks Him a question: Lord, will those who are saved be few? Jesus replied: Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

PP: Guy with baskets slide and narrow door

Remember I said that I believed the narrow door, in this case, was not Jesus, but repentance, since that had also been a major topic of Jesus’ teaching in the last few chapters of Luke’s Gospel.

Because of all the baggage the religious leaders, and in fact all of us carry, we often refuse to drop it, because we love our baggage.

  • In other words we refuse to repent because we love our sin.
  • And that makes it very hard to enter through the narrow door.

Instead, Jesus challenges us to strive, to do the hard work of dealing with our sin and repenting of it.

But, to those who refuse to repent, Jesus warns that they will one day seek to enter the Kingdom, but the door will be closed to them.

  • And He speaks more clearly about that in our text this morning.

PP:2. Luke 13:25-28  Do you know Jesus or

                                     just know about Him?

When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.”

PP: Next Slide

Jesus tells another Kingdom parable. Here Jesus is the master of the house who shuts the door. The people present would have known that. How?

  • The man who asked Jesus the question began with the word Lord, will those who are saved be few?
  • Here, the people standing outside the closed door start out the same way Lord, open to us…
  • Both times the same Greek word for Lord is used.

They would’ve understood Jesus saying that He had the power to open and close the door to the Kingdom, something only God could do.

Jesus, through the parable, indicates that He and the Father are One. And that’s one more reason the religious leaders wanted Jesus dead.

So the people

  • Those who were just seeking but not striving towards the Kingdom.
  • Those who refused to enter through the narrow door of repentance.

Are now standing outside that door, still refusing to repent, yet, still asking to enter the Kingdom.

Defiantly holding on to their own traditions and to what they believed was their right as children of Abraham, they tell the master of the house to open the door for them. And the master replies: I do not know where you come from.

By that, Jesus was saying we don’t have the kind of personal, intimate relationship that would move Me to open the door for you.

  • We get that. We would let a family member into our home late at night, but not a stranger. That’s the idea here.

Jesus is saying

  • You’re not family, we don’t have that kind of personal, intimate relationship.
  • You really don’t know… Me. If you did, I’d gladly let you in.

Jesus is letting His audience see that there is a difference between knowing about Him and actually knowing Him, personally.

Again, in response to the man’s question Will those who are saved be few? Jesus is telling them that

  • Being saved, entering the Kingdom, going to heaven,
  • is not a matter of familiarity with Jesus,
  • it’s a matter of having a personal, intimate, relationship with Him.

And, so there’s absolutely no mistake who Jesus is talking about in this parable, Jesus says Then you will begin to say.

  • You, the religious leaders.
  • You, the ones who think you deserve entrance because you are a descendent of Abraham.
  • You, all who refuse to repent of your sin.

Next, Jesus tells them the argument they’ll give for why they should be granted entrance to the kingdom. Here it is… We hung out with you!

  • We ate and drank in your presence.
  • You taught in our streets.

We hung out with you.

Listen carefully, that will be the very same argument many in the church will use, when they are refused entrance into the Kingdom. They’ll say:

  • We came to church, OK, we occasionally came to church.
  • We gave money to the church. OK, we gave some… once in a while.
  • We served in the church. OK, we chose positions that wouldn’t disrupt our lifestyle.
  • We came to the social activities of the church. OK, it was only because we didn’t have anything else to do that day.
  • But come on, we were a part of the church.

The truth is, too many in the church today

  • aren’t striving, aren’t serious in their pursuit of the Kingdom,
  • they have little, to no appetite for Jesus.

Again, listen, carefully, Jesus will tell them: I do not know where you come from.

This isn’t the first time Jesus said this. He said this very same thing in Matthew 7:21-23. Only there He added a few ‘church like’ words.

PP: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Works will not save you. Halfhearted attempts to live like a Christian, will not earn you entrance into the KoG. Familiarity with Jesus will not get you into heaven.

  • One word: repent
  • One life: forever transformed by faith in Jesus.
  • One pure and holy passion: deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

But, because they have not chosen to repent. Because they have not chosen, by faith, to trust in Jesus, He will say:

 PP: Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.”

Wow… Folks, that’s Hell! The tragic and horrible reality of eternal suffering in Hell is described by Jesus Himself, in His own words.

Jesus is saying you were right about one thing, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets, they’ll be in the Kingdom.

  • They repented.
  • They lived a life of striving for the kingdom.
  • They were obedient to the Word of God.
  • And they all looked forward, in faith, to the coming Messiah.

You, however, didn’t. So no, the door is closed to you, you will not enter the Kingdom with your faithful ancestors. And if that wasn’t harsh enough, Jesus adds this:

PP:3. Luke 13:29-30  Kingdom surprises

And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.

Those words, were a great offence to the Jewish people. But…for the rest of us Gentiles, they bring great joy.

  • The KoG will include BOTH Jews and Gentiles.

However, there’s still a warning in Jesus’ words. Did you catch it?  He says the KoG will not be like the world around you…

  • There’s a different ethos, a character unlike what you see in the world around you.

And some will be surprised by it.

  • Some of those who are prominent Christians here, may not be so prominent in the KoG.
  • And some who were the least of us here, will be placed before us in the Kingdom.

Here, Jesus is speaking to those

  • who have repented, who have by faith, trusted in Jesus,
  • who have been saved by God’s grace
  • who have done the hard work of striving for the Kingdom as a disciple of Jesus Christ,
  • and have been granted entrance into His Kingdom.

I don’t believe Jesus is saying

  • Don’t strive to do well. Don’t work hard to be the best follower of Jesus you can be. Don’t seek to always keep in step with the Spirit. Don’t try to be faithful in all areas of your life.

I believe Jesus is speaking to those who do all of that,

  • to garner the praise and admiration of others,
  • to get the most ‘atta boy’s or atta girl’s,
  • to get a higher, more prestigious position in the church or the Christian world.

To put it another way,

  • Rewards in the Kingdom will not be based on position or prominence, here.
  • But on faithfulness, on being a good steward of the abundance, or, of the little, that God has given to you.

Conclusion: Well, as I close this morning,

  • Perhaps you think God unfair.
  • Perhaps you feel Jesus is a bit too strict by closing the door when people seem to want to enter Kingdom.
  • Shouldn’t there always be time for people to repent?

In Genesis 6, just before the flood, even though Noah preached righteousness and repentance to the people,

  • There were just a handful who were saved.

And remember, it was God who closed the door on the ark so no one else could get in.

Yet, God’s grace continues to be poured out, from the time the ark settled on dry ground, till this very moment, as He cries out to all who will hear:

PP: Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)

You see it really does matter who you follow in life.

  • Are you following Jesus, listening to and obeying His Word and will? Have you chosen the narrow door? Are you striving for the Kingdom, even though you know it demands everything from you?
  • Or, are you following the world, listening and obeying what it has to say about life? Have you chosen the wide door? Are you settling for less because striving for the Kingdom, just demands too much of you?

Who you follow is vital? If you choose to follow after the world, the result won’t be funny like the missionary who followed the guy he sat next too, it will be devastating…

Both life, here and now, as well as life, then and there

  • will be void of God; void of His presence, His power, His guidance, His compassion, His providential and loving care…

Life, eternal life, for those who choose the world, who choose the wide door,

  • will be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth,
  • in other words it will literally be HELL!

But, God’s grace; His extravagant, free and abundant grace, is still being offered to all those who choose, by faith, to follow Jesus… in the here and now.

  • Don’t wait. Don’t risk the door being closed either by your perpetual rejection of Jesus, by your death, or by Jesus’ return.

Remember God still cries out: Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)

If you haven’t yet, I invite you

  • to repent of your sin,
  • to place your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin,
  • and to invite Jesus, to live His life, through you.

PP: Next Slide