Untitled Sermon (5)
The introduction of the Gospel of Luke:
We have two more studies to go, including today’s Bible study. And it is my prayer that up this point you have been blessed, you have been challenged, and you have had a growing desire to participate in the Kingdom of God, both in the future kingdom of glory, and in the present day kingdom of grace.
1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,
Today we look at the Kingdom theme in the gospel of Luke. As a synoptic, the gospel of Luke is very different to what we have seen in Matthew and Mark. To begin with, Luke is actually the longest of the gospels. Although it has less chapters than Matthew, in its 24 chapters it has more content than either gospel. And where Matthew repeats 90% of what Mark wrote, Luke only contains about 50% of what we find in the gospel of Mark.
No one really knows when the gospel of Luke was written. But what is great about the Gospel of Luke is that it is the only gospel that actually tells us why it was written and who the intended audience was. In fact, the introduction of the Gospel of Luke gives us a lot of insight into some other things as well. We find the introduction in .
Notice what we learn from the introduction:
Other writings had been circulating about Jesus and his life. It all began with the oral tradition - those who were eyewitnesses shared what they say. The Gospel was written for Theophilus, who appears to be a believer. Interestingly enough, the name Theophilus actually means “lover of God.” It is through this name that we know that Luke wrote another book, the Acts of the Apostles. - Here the reference is to the book of Luke. The composition of the Gospel appears to have been a result of investigation and research. The purpose was to confirm that what happened with Jesus actually happened.
With all of this, when we embark on a study of the Gospel of Luke, we expect to get a rewarding view of Jesus, as well as a unique one to the other gospels. And today, we want to look at some of the things the Gospel says about the Kingdom of God.
Let us pray.
The Seriousness of the Kingdom
The Seriousness of the Kingdom
18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
And to begin with, I want us to compare a dialogue that happens in the life of Jesus that is found in both of these Gospels; this dialogue deals directly with the priorities that we set as disciples that live in the kingdom of Grace.
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
We first are going to look up this dialogue in Matthew. And the reason I want us to do this is so that we can see the challenge of making Matthew the primary gospel. More often than not an unhealthy dependence develops on the book of Matthew because it is the first book of the New Testament. For most church members, including myself, there is a greater familiarity with the book of Matthew than with the other synoptics. And in this story, for example, we get more out of Luke than we do in Matthew.
Now let us read the Luke version: .
I believe the difference between both stories shows how placing one gospel over another is dangerous and challenging. Although we get the point of the story in Matthew, Luke gives us more details in this story; ultimately, he presents a more complete idea. We are even given an extra saying of Jesus that does not show in Matthew.
This is not to say that we should read only Luke, and not Matthew. But it does say that when we read the gospels, we should get in the habit of looking at what the other gospels have to say as well.
Now, going back to the story, what Jesus says is very impactful. Here we have three individuals who are trying to become followers of Jesus. And I want you to notice the interactions as they play:
Wants to go wherever Jesus goes
“Son of man has nowhere…”
49 “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! 51 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. 52 For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. 53 Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Wants to follow, but bury father first
“Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom.”
26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Wants to follow, but desires to say goodbye to family first
“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is for for the Kingdom of God”
Why is that? Why does Jesus reject the burying of father or the farewells of the family?
Luke does not shy away from these apparently harsh statements. We see them as well in the following verses:
(notice that this is must harsher than what we read in )
Sometimes its tough to read these and not cringe. But what Luke (and Matthew up to a certain extent) tries to do is to show you the seriousness of the kingdom of God. The truth is that you should not love mom and dad, or son and daughter, more than you should love Jesus. You should not desire to be with mom or dad, or son and daughter, more than you desire to be in the kingdom.
Jesus must be first. It was a direct and blunt way of saying that nothing should occupy the first place in our lives than the kingdom and living with Jesus in it. Once again, Jesus must be first.
Christ Object Lessons p 223:
“But in order to accept the invitation to the gospel feast, they must make their worldly interests subordinate to the one purpose of receiving Christ and His righteousness. God gave all for man, and He asks him to place His service above every earthly and selfish consideration. He cannot accept a divided heart. The heart that is absorbed in earthly affections cannot be given up to God.
“The lesson is for all time. We are to follow the Lamb of God whithersoever He goeth. His guidance is to be chosen, His companionship valued above the companionship of earthly friends. Christ says, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
The Difficulty of the Kingdom
The Difficulty of the Kingdom
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
. vs. (Luke 13:34)
22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 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, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
Turn with me to . These are probably well known verses, and definitely more known than the ones in Luke.
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
Luke’s version is different, and more expansive:
The first thing is the immediate answer Jesus gave to the initial question:
Question: “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
Answer: The entrance of the Kingdom is narrow, not wide. It is not an easy thing to enter.
Explanation: It is not easy to be a kingdom resident. Nowhere in the gospel is there any inclination to an ease in the entrance. Jesus always was clear with us. It is not easy. It’s difficult. And so if you feel the difficult in living the life what Jesus wants to live, it probably means that you are on the right track. The entrance is narrow, not wide. Many try, but will not be able to enter.
The second thing that stands out in the text is that Luke actually records why the gate is narrow. Matthew simply tells us that the gate is narrow. Luke actually tells us the logic behind it.
In the illustration that Jesus gives, the Master shuts the door and the people cannot enter. When they request to enter, the Master simply responds” I do not know you” or “where you are from.” But notice the response of the people: “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.”
That answer tells you so much about the condition of the people around Jesus. They admit to knowing about Jesus. They admit to even being close in proximity to Jesus. But ultimately, knowing and closeness do not save you. In the eyes of Jesus, it is more than knowing and proximity; it is about actually living as a disciple of Jesus, accepting His every way. The idea here is that Jesus does not want to live next to you; Jesus wants to live inside of you.
The following verses explain what Jesus meant:
The point is not knowing about Jesus or being next to Jesus. In this text, the point is being under Jesus and His protection and control.
This is an important text for us: We have to truly examine ourselves to see if Jesus is in control of our lives, or will we one day say: “ I knew about you, and you were taught about in my church.”
It would be sad to see the prophets in the Kingdom of God.
And this is ultimately we he meant when he said “there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” The people of Israel should have been the first to embrace Jesus. Many to the day still reject Him; while the rest of the world continues to believe in Jesus more and more.
As keepers of the faith, and forerunners of the truth, we should be leading people in the Kingdom of God. We should be the first to enter.
Careful that we are not the last ones.
Communion and the Kingdom
Communion and the Kingdom
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
The last thing we want to look at tonight is the conversation that Luke describes regarding the Last supper and the Kingdom theme. And this we find in
The gospels of Matthew and Mark also describe the same moment. The reference to the kingdom of God in Matthew and Mark is only in relation to the wine. In Luke, Jesus begins the passover feast by telling them that He will not celebrate the passover again with the disciples until the Kingdom of God is fulfilled.
I’d like to say only one thing regarding this text and a truth about communion: Communion serves not only as a reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross, but as an announcement that Jesus will eat with us again in the Kingdom of Glory. Communion is most definitely representative of the then-now aspects of the Kingdom.
When we partake in Communion, we are accepting what Jesus is presently doing in our lives. When we partake in Communions, we are also announcing what He will do when He returns. This is the same idea that Paul expresses in
In this sense, communion should be seen as follows:
“Past/present deliverance” Communion “Future deliverance”
Passover: - So serious that the people would be cut off…
- So serious that the people would be cut off…
Or what happens with those who refuse to make things right with their brothers and sisters, and therefore do not participate in communion?
I think the lesson we learn in today’s study is that we if we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow him all out. There is no looking back. There is nothing more important. And no matter how difficult, we keep looking forward. And as communion shows, we should desire nothing more than the kingdom.