Luke 13:18-21: Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings
‘If Jesus is the King, why doesn’t it feel like He is reigning?’
This discouragement is what many people feel. ‘If Jesus is Lord why is my church so small and struggling so much and all the young people leaving?’ ‘If Jesus is Lord why is sin still so strong in my life and my holiness so weak?’ ‘If Jesus is Lord why is the government allowed to reverse things God has put in nature and make laws that contradict God’s laws?’ Understanding the nature of Christ’s reign, the way in which the kingdom manifests itself, is a problem in all ages. It was also a problem for the Jews when Jesus, their King, came to Israel. The Jews would only accept that Jesus was king if certain expectations were met. In their minds the Messiah and certain things always went together. If the Messiah comes that would mean judgement on all of the enemies of the Jews, especially any who had taken military action against them, like the Greeks and the Romans who had invaded the Holy land. To their minds the coming of the Messiah would bring about a time of world peace and world domination where Israel would be the ruling power over all. The Messiah would bring in a time of prosperity and the nations would bring their riches to Jerusalem, the capital of the new age. John the Baptist arrives on the scene getting everyone excited about the King who is about to come and fulfil all their expectations, saying the kingdom is nigh. Jesus arrives telling everyone that the Kingdom is here but all He does is forgive sins, welcome sinners into God’s people, heal those who in the eyes of the religious Jews had brought cursing upon their heads because of their sins. He did not judge those they thought He should judge and He ended up judging them and warning them of judgement. He forgave the sin of sinners and called the religious sinners. When He did speak about judgement it was not a judgement they thought fulfilled their idea of the kingdom, it was a judgement aimed at them. Just because Jesus does not fulfil your expectations does not mean that He is not King and that His kingdom is not present.
The portion before us, 13:18-21, the well-known parables of the mustard seed and the leaven, are given to teach us about the kingdom of God. So we will look at the parables and explain them and then we will apply the principles about God’s kingdom that they are teaching.