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Whats Gods Kingdom Like

Biography of Jesus #61

"What’s God’s kingdom like?"

Luke 13:18-21


1. "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Imagine the kingdom of God coming from heaven to earth. Imagine the will of God being done here on earth as it is in heaven. What would that be like?


2. That’s exactly the question Jesus asked.


In Luke 13:18-21 of his biography, . . . 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 of the air perched in its branches." Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

3. The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God. It’s where God’s will is done, on earth as it is in heaven. It is where and when people obey God, think like God and live God’s way.

Maybe we can begin to understand the concept by comparing cultures.
In the Middle East people don’t eat with their left hands. In America we eat with our left hands but don’t drive on the left side of the highway. In Singapore they drive on the left side of the highway but they don’t allow the importing of chewing gum. In Holland chewing gum is legal but the death penalty is not. In the United States we have the death penalty . . . and the list goes on.
In some cases it is mostly customs and in others it is morality. In Holland prostitution is legal. In some Muslim countries polygamy is legal. In the Sudan there is human slavery. In ancient Rome infanticide of sick babies and female babies was not only common but also encouraged.

The kingdom of God is where God’s rules reign. It is the people and places where the values and customs, laws and practices come from God.

This does not usually mean a political kingdom that becomes Christian. The kingdom of God can come to the most pagan of places. Rodney Stark is a social scientist and historian on the faculty of the University of Washington. He wrote a fascinating book called The Rise of Christianity. In it he documents how Christianity moved from being a tiny minority religion in a pagan empire until (within less than 300 years) it became the official religion of the empire. He said it was because the Christians lived by a completely different set of rules:
Abortion was rampant - - - but the Christians did not abort their babies.
Infanticide of female babies was common - - - but the Christians did not kill their babies and often rescued those whom others had abandoned to die.
The pagans practiced premarital sex - - - but the Christians insisted on biblical chastity.
Divorce was widespread - - but the Christians frowned on divorce and kept their marriages together.
Pagans fled their cities in fear when the plagues and epidemics struck--but the Christians often stayed behind to care for the sick, winning them to faith in Jesus Christ.

Generation after generation, the Christians lived the kingdom of God on earth while those around them lived the kingdom of Rome and paganism. Christians lived when others died. Christians were moral when others were immoral. Christians multiplied in numbers while other decreased. After 300 years the majority of the population of the Roman Empire was Christian.

The kingdom of God came from heaven to earth. God’s will was done on earth as it is done in heaven.


4. What’s the kingdom like? The kingdom of God is like mustard.


I. God’s kingdom is like mustard Luke 13:18-19

A. Starts small

1. Jesus said: "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches."

2. All parables teach a primary point. The primary point of Jesus’ mustard seed parable is that something small grows into something big.

Palestinian mustard seeds were small and black. They were the smallest seeds used by farmers at that time.

When planted, the seeds grew quickly and significantly. Within a few years the seed could become a bush 10-12 feet tall.

3. That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It starts small. Historically, there were only twelve close disciples of Jesus. At the time of his crucifixion and resurrection the total number of followers was only 120. The human chances of success were extremely low—there were already established religions; there was fierce competition and persecution; the founder was assassinated.

4. But the kingdom of God often starts small.

When individuals become Christians they commit the rest of their lives to Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. It is a commitment to live by a different set of rules.

Truth instead of lying.

Generosity instead of greed.

Morality instead of immorality.

Kindness instead of cruelty.

Standing up against evil instead of caving in to evil.

Living for God instead of living for self.

Does everything immediately change? Sometimes, but not usually. For some people it takes weeks, months and years before you can see the kingdom of God ruling in their lives. It is like the mustard seed that starts small.


B. Grows big

1. But little mustard seeds grow into trees twice the height of tall adults.
Actually, they are not trees. A more proper description is that they are "mustard bushes." But that actually adds to Jesus’ point. Who would expect a bush so big? Mustard bushes are so huge that they look like trees. Even birds think they look like trees and perch on their branches.

Palestine is a part of the world that is tree-deprived. Trees often stand out on the horizon. It is amazing that a tiny mustard seed can grow into a bush so big that it looks like a tree and you can see it far away or sit under its shade close up.

2. That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It keeps growing and growing until it becomes bigger than anyone ever would have anticipated. You can see it on the horizon. You can even benefit from its protection even when you’re not a Christian.

3. The kingdom of God is supernatural. It is good. It is wonderful. It is transforming. Every day I hear about the astonishing differences in individual lives, families, businesses, schools and communities as the kingdom of God takes root. Each Sunday’s FaithStory at Wooddale Church is a report on the growth of the kingdom of God.

4. Once there was only a handful of Christians, now there are two billion people who claim to be Christians.

Once the rules of God’s kingdom were unknown. Today the principles of the Bible are written into laws around the globe.

Once God’s will was far less done on earth and now God’s will is far more done on earth. We can see what Jesus’ first hearers only imagined—the kingdom of God growing from a little seed to a big bush.

5. Question: Is this something God does or something we do? Is the growth of God’s kingdom inevitable or are we supposed to make it happen?
Let’s talk about that later. For now, let’s stick with Jesus topic—that kingdom growth happens. It still happens!

6. We gather today as Christians to learn God’s way to live. We are citizens of heaven far more than we are citizens of any country on earth. As the church gathers we learn the will of God and the ways of his kingdom and then we spread out and live as citizens of the kingdom of God. We share the Gospel. We live God’s way. We spread the mustard. To expand Jesus’ parable for today, it looks something like this:

7. "Spreading the Mustard" video from the Wooddale Church drama department (3 _ minutes).

8. What is the kingdom of God like? It’s like mustard that starts small and grows big.


II. God’s kingdom is like yeast Luke 13:20-21

A. Begins on the outside

1. Again [Jesus] asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?

It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

2. The mustard story was about a man who planted a seed. The yeast story is about a woman who baked bread. Jesus was talking about things everyone around him knew well. He was probably reflecting on what he had seen a thousand times while growing up in the home of Joseph and Mary. His mom, like most moms, daily baked bread at home.

3. The woman in the parable had a large pile of flour. What Jesus actually said was that she had three measures of flour which is a little more than a bushel. If she baked the dough without yeast it would come out flat and flaky. If she added yeast (or leaven or sourdough), it would rise and be the kind of bread we all like to eat.

4. Here’s how it worked. A small amount of dough was kept from a previous day’s baking. It contained fungi, which could quickly spread. It was allowed to ferment. Then the little bit of fermented dough was added to the big batch of flour before baking. The little bit would permeate the whole batch until it was all leavened and would rise in the baking.

5. Sometimes in the Bible yeast is used as a symbol of evil. Sometimes it is used as a symbol of good. Here it is used as a symbol of the very good kingdom of God.

6. The yeast comes from the outside. It has to be added. Otherwise you can bake the flour forever and it will always be flat as a cracker.

7. It’s the same with the kingdom of God. We need God rule from outside of our lives. We can’t be good on our own. We can’t figure out by ourselves how to live God’s way. The only way God’s kingdom will ever permeate our lives is for God to get inside and permeate all of us.


B. Transforms on the inside

1. The way yeast works is that it transforms on the inside. There is a chemical change that takes place and allows the flour to become something it could never otherwise become.

2. That’s the way it is with the kingdom of God. Once it gets into your head and heart is starts changing you. It changes the way you think. It changes the way you relate. It changes your priorities. It changes your desires. Bit by bit you are transformed to be and do what you could never otherwise be or do.

Some people try to fake Christianity. The are about rules and regulations and really trying hard. But, they miss the spirit of what it is to become a Christian. They don’t yet think Christianity. But, when the do they begin to see everything God’s way. They begin to understand and love God’s culture, laws, thinking--kingdom! Their lives begin bursting with God. They are like a lump of dough that starts rising and expanding and smelling & looking very good!

3. But Jesus is talking about more than personal transformation here.
He’s talking about the impact of Jesus’ gospel and God’s kingdom on all of our culture. When someone starts living for God in a community, that person’s lifestyle begins to transform the community.

4. One person can change a whole school.

One family member can permeate an entire family system.

One seemingly insignificant employee can have more power and influence to transform a company than the CEO.

You don’t have to be powerful, rich, famous or smart—just live God’s kingdom on earth and you will permeate the culture. You will be the yeast of God, transforming our world from the inside.


Question: Is Jesus saying that this is what we are supposed to do or that this is what always happens?

Most of all, Jesus is saying that this is what happens. When people become Christians they have changed desires in their hearts. They begin to live by God’s laws. It is supernatural and it is inevitable. The kingdom of God starts to take over and it can’t be stopped. It grows like a tree. It permeates like yeast. It spreads. It is like an epidemic.

Think of yourself as an American who moves into a different country and culture. All you need to do is be yourself. Speak your language. Do your thing.

Oh sure, its possible to live and talk like a non-American but you have to work at it. That’s the way it is with being a Christian. Commit your life to Jesus Christ. Let the Spirit of God rule your heart. Learn God’s way to live and then just do it. Talk the way a Christian talks. Work the way a Christian works. Be a Christian and be yourself and you will be the mustard that starts small and grow big. You will be the yeast that begins on the outside and then transforms on the inside.

Go for it! Got mustard? Yes. Got yeast? Yes. Then you are a citizen of the kingdom of God. Go now and represent your king!



August 21-22, 1999 Wooddale Church

Leith Anderson 1999

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