50 Luke 13.10-21
There is a grave in the cemetery of an Episcopal church in rural Louisiana with a 150-year-old oak tree growing out of it. The tombstone has only one word carved on it…"Waiting."
What the disciples experienced in small scale-three days in grief over one man who had died on a cross, we now live through on cosmic scale. Both Friday and Sunday have earned names on the church calendar: Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Yet in a real sense we live on Saturday, the day with no name. Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment…waiting.
Or so we tend to think…
v But here Jesus teaches us that we are not just “waiting”
Ø That the Kingdom of God has indeed come to earth
§ And that the first sprout of evidence is among them…
READ v. 10-13
Here we see the…
v This is the last recorded time that Jesus is in a synagogue
Ø He is headed to Jerusalem for the final time
§ Just months before his death on the cross
v Jesus has been asked to preach at a local synagogue
Ø Can you imagine sitting under his preaching!
§ Let’s go back in time and imagine ourselves in that building
· Listening to Jesus preach…
Ø He is teaching on the kingdom of God
§ Every syllable of that comes out of his mouth is full of the authority of God
§ Every word truth
§ Every interpretation accurate
§ Every explanation makes sense
§ Every application cutting right to your heart and soul
· You are totally enthralled, sitting on the edge of your seat
¨ No thought of what time it is
v Just as he is about to make another point, in walks the crippled woman
Ø You all know her
Ø She comes late every Saturday
Ø She is bent over almost 90 degrees
Ø Has been for as long as you can remember
v Suddenly Jesus stops short and motions for the woman to come forward
Ø You think, “Finally someone is going to reprimand her for being late!”
§ Instead Jesus looks at the audience, then at the woman and says…
· “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity”
¨ He then gently puts his hands on her back
Ø Slowly, while his hands are still places on her back, the woman straightens up perfectly
§ The woman lifts her hands toward heaven and says over and over
· Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
v He looks around to see if anyone understands
Ø If anyone gets it
§ We are not in a waiting pattern for the kingdom of God
· It is here!
v Isa 61:1-2 prophesied about the time of the Messiah…
Ø The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
v Jesus has just released an oppressed prisoner…the crippled woman
Ø Evidence that the Kingdom has arrived
§ Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, is not just a day of waiting…
· It is a day of Action!
¨ But not to the synagogue ruler…
Look at His response…
v Saturday was the Sabbath
Ø It was the day of rest
§ There was to be no work done on the Saturday Sabbath
v But remember what Jesus had declared earlier in his ministry…
Ø Mk 2:27-28
§ Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man
· Men was not made to be a slave to Sabbath regulations
· It was not to be a milestone around our neck
¨ But it was created to be a blessing to man
Ø Created for mankind!
§ But the Sabbath had become a milestone
¨ That was the Pharisaic Law
Ø Saturday had become over-regulated
¨ That was the tradition
Ø 100’s of years
¨ It was what they were accustomed to
Ø And it is always hard to change…
v Have you seen “The Terminal” with Tom Hanks
Ø Fanciful, fun movie about a man who cannot go back to his home country and is not allowed into the US
§ He is stuck in this middle ground…
· So he lives in the international terminal at JFK airport
¨ Can you believe that it was based on a true story?!
A man named Merhan Nasseri was a man without a country. For 11 years he lived in a Paris airport. He had no passport. He had no citizenship. He had no papers that enabled him to leave the airport or fly to another country. He had been expelled from his native country of Iran. Then he was sent away from Paris, France, because he lacked documentation. He flew to England but was denied entry and sent back to Paris. When he was returned to the Paris airport in1988, airport authorities allowed him to live in Terminal 1, and there he stayed for 11 years, writing in a diary, living off of handouts from airport employees, cleaning up the airport bathrooms.
Then in September 1999 the situation reversed. French authorities presented Nasseri with an international travel card and a French residency permit. Suddenly he was free to go anywhere he wanted.
But when airport officials handed him his walking papers, to everyone's surprise, he simply smiled, tucked the documents in his folder, and resumed writing in his diary. They found he was afraid to leave the bench and table that had been his home for 11 years.
When Christ’s Kingdom presents itself, we have a move to make that can be as frightening as the move Nasseri had to make from the airport. A move to accept the new and move away from the familiar. (The old)
v When Christ’s Kingdom presented itself to the Synagogue ruler…
Ø His reaction was indignation
§ He despised it
· He could not leave the terminal
v We have to be careful that we do not despise the works of the Kingdom of God
Ø We prayed the Lord’s Prayer today…
§ Your Kingdom come your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven
· Do we really believe that?
· Do we really want that?
¨ Many people make a great show of this desire…
Ø But when the Kingdom really manifests itself they despise it
Ø It can happen in churches…
§ Church praying for growth
· Lord brings poor and needy, not the right people
Ø It can happen in people…
§ Pray for healing, but when it presents itself
· We despise it
¨ We hold on to our sicknesses
Ø Jn 5 ~ Story of Man at the pool of Bethsaida for 38 yrs
§ “Do you want to get well?”
v The Synagogue ruler despised the Kingdom manifestation
Ø But Jesus didn’t just walk away…
§ He defends it
READ v. 15-17
v Here Jesus points out just how inconsistent their thinking is
Ø Doing an act of Mercy to a human being is wrong
§ But doing an act of mercy to an ox or donkey is not!
· How ridiculous!
¨ And Jesus is absolutely furious that things have gotten so turned around
v Jesus is livid at them for several reasons:
Ø 1) For over-regulating the Sabbath
Ø 2) For treating a “Daughter of Abraham” lower than the animals
· Made in God’s image
Ø Have eternal soul
Ø 3) For being hypocritical
§ Jesus knows that they are not acting consistently
· So He calls them hypocrites
Ø The Synagogue ruler and some in the crowd are hypocrites because they claim to be righteous by hold to the Sabbath by not working
§ Yet they clearly break that when they are at home
· Thus they are in reality hollow
In any great forest you will find many huge trees. They tower above other trees and appear to be the very picture of strength and maturity. However, loggers will sometimes not even bother to cut down these huge trees. At first one wonders, Why leave them? After all, a tree that big must contain twice or 3x the amount of lumber as a smaller tree.
The reason is simple. Huge trees are often rotten on the inside. They are the trees that are often blown over in a strong windstorm because, while they appear to be the picture of strength, in fact their hollowness makes them weak. This is the essence of hypocrisy, appearing strong on the outside but hollow and rotten on the inside
Ø Hypocrisy probably the #1 reason why Christianity has such a bad name
§ It seems that when a person becomes a Christian…
· They for some reason feel they must appear together, strong, perfect on the outside
Research psychologists have found there are at least three situations when we do not act like ourselves. First, the average person puts on airs when he visits the lobby of a fancy hotel. Next, the typical person will try to hide their emotions when they enter the new-car showroom. And finally, as we take our seat in church.
Ø Jesus’ call on our life is not to be perfect
§ We never-ever-ever will!
· Sanctification is a process
¨ Col 3:9-10
Ø Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Ø Jesus’ call on our life is not to be perfect, but to pursue perfection as if it were attainable!
§ Phil 3:12-14 Paul writes very personally…
· Not that I have already obtained all this (Christ-likeness), or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus
· “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”
¨ Absolute perfection is not given when you give your life to Christ
Ø But the ability to attain it, the desire for it is, the pursuit of it is!
v I think that this is what is attractive about Christianity to unbelievers
Ø Our desire to do what is right and our honesty that we are still sinful
§ Not the pretense of being perfect or righteous
· In other words…
v And that is the way around hypocrisy, isn’t it?
Ø Be who you are, warts and all
§ Be authentic
· That is what Doug Palmeter told us is attractive to unbelievers
¨ They hate the religious hypocrite
Ø The Performers – upper left hand quadrant
¨ The person that puts on airs
¨ The person that pretends to be something they are not
Ø i.e. perfect!
Ø We are not perfect
§ In fact…
· Far from it
Ø Unbelievers are attracted to the Grace and Truth quadrant
§ The person who is truthful about who they are…
· Sinful, error-prone, faulty
§ The person that relies on the Grace of God
v Charles Hodge (Princeton professor in 19th century)
The more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing, self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes, and the more closely he clings to Christ.
The moral imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he laments and strives to overcome.
(IN other words, clinging to Grace and being truthful about who they are!)
Believers find that their life is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of heaven by storm, and watch while they pray…And it has been notoriously the fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for themselves.
v That is attractive to non-Christians
v Jesus has shown that the kingdom of God is here…
Ø But what does it look like?
v Jesus went on to explain what the Kingdom of God looks like
READ V. 18-19
v Like a Mustard Seed
Ø Open blue pew Bible to cover page, you will find a Mustard seed
§ Small to Large
· 1 man to 12, to 3,000 to 5,000 to the ends of the world…Rome
· Little sign on my computer…10%
¨ I’ve been praying for 10%
Ø That 10% of Southwest Harbor would come to know Christ
v What else does the kingdom look like?
Ø Like Yeast
READ V. 20-21
v If you have ever made bread
Ø You know that yeast transforms flour and water into a living breathing mass
§ And that is how the Kingdom of God grows
· Almost unseen, breathing new life into people, one person at a time
Ø Col 2:13
§ When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ
· You see…
¨ When you give your life to Christ, you actually become alive for the very first time
Ø You start really living and breathing
§ Finding purpose in life
§ Finding joy and love and peace
Ø When the kingdom of God sets up residence in your heart
§ An amazing silent miracle occurs…
· A lump of inert dirt is transformed into a new creation for Christ
Can we trust that God can make something holy and beautiful and good out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda and inner-city ghettos and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth? It's Saturday on planet earth. Will Sunday ever come?
That dark, Golgothan Friday can only be called Good because of what happened on Easter Sunday, a day which gives a tantalizing clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay, sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.
Though Jesus cast a vision for a better kingdom now and in the future, as long as it is Saturday, the fulfillment of that vision still awaits until Sunday dawns.
Can you imagine a more unnatural home than an airport? It is bustling, it is interesting, but it is not home. We are beckoned from the unnatural home of the ways of this fallen world to our new home: the ways of the kingdom of God.
v Jesus brings to their attention that the Sabbath should be the day more than any other where the works of Satan should be attacked and destroyed
Ø We are doing that right now in our own lives, aren’t we?
§ The Word challenging and destroying those strongholds in our lives and hearts
Ø The scary thing about hypocrisy is that
§ May not even know it (Matt 7:21-23)
v That is because the Kingdom of God is in your heart
Ø Luke 17:21
§ The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you
v The Kingdom is unseen from the inside out
v From the inside-out, One person at a time
Ø Unseen from the inside-out
§ That is the way the kingdom of God works in your life
· The Lord eventually wants to work his way into all parts of your life
¨ He wants all of you
Ø Like yeast throughout a batch of dough
§ The kingdom of God in your heart