WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE?
Key Verse: 13:19
"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."
1. With what did Jesus first compare the kingdom of God? (18-19) What does
this parable tell us about the way the kingdom of God grows? Read verse
20. How is the kingdom of God like yeast? In what ways is it
2. Why was Jesus going to Jerusalem?(9:51) What was he doing along the
way? (22) What did someone ask him? (23) How did he answer? (24-30)
What does "narrow door" imply? In what way is Jesus the narrow door?
3. What does it mean to "Make every effort..."? Why is timing important?
What are the consequences of entering or not entering through the
narrow door? What do these verses teach about the kingdom of God?
4. What warning did some Pharisees give Jesus? (31) What did Jesus teach
about his mission? (32-33) What was his attitude toward Herod? Why did
Jesus weep over the Holy City? (34-35) What was his longing hope?
WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE?
Today Jesus tells us how the kingdom of God grows in our hearts while on
earth. Let's listen very carefully how the kingdom of God grows. Jesus also
tells us to enter the narrow door. It sounds ridiculous. There are many
highways and tollways. This is the time of open opportunities. Why do we
have to enter the narrow door? Finally, Jesus sorrows looking at Jerusalem,
seeing that the holy city turned into a den of robbers.
First, the kingdom of God is like the mustard seed and the yeast (18-21).
Look at verses 18-19. "Then 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.'" Jesus compared the kingdom of God to a
mustard seed. In the ancient eastern countries, mustard was not a garden
herb, but a field plant. It literally grew to be a tree. A height of seven
or eight feet is common. But a mustard seed is known as the smallest seed
among all seeds. It is common to see a cloud of birds around such trees.
Some rest in the tree. Others love to eat little black mustard seeds. To
Luke, the historian and evangelist, the mustard seed is well compared to
the kingdom of God, and it's a blessing to birds as well as to travelers.
This part teaches us that the kingdom of God always starts like the most
smallest mustard seed, but it grows up to be a big tree and becomes a
blessing. When Jesus came to this world to save men from their sins, he was
just like a mustard seed. Jesus is God himself (Jn 1:3,4). Jesus came to
this world to a poor family. Mary gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She
wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room
for them in the inn (Lk 2:7). Jesus was born in the most fatalistic way and
laid in a manger. But baby Jesus is the everlasting King of kings. He is
the author of man's life and gives eternal life to those who come to him.
Luke, the historian and evangelist, wrote the story of the birth of
Jesus in chapter 2, making use of the Roman Empire as a background for his
birth. When we think about the Roman Empire, our immediate association is
with the glory and power of the throne of the Roman Emperor. At that time,
Judah was a part of Syria. Compared with the throne of the Roman Emperor,
the baby Jesus in a manger seems too small to look at. Baby Jesus was so
pitiful laid in a manger that he was the object of sympathy by the cow in
the stable. But to Luke, Jesus has the life of God in him. The Roman
Emperor, Caesar Augustus, was nothing but a political leader of the time.
He lived for a while and disappeared like the dew. But the baby Jesus in a
manger is the Most High God. He will reign forever and ever and his kingdom
will never end. Luke says, "But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid,
Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth
to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will
be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne
of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his
kingdom will never end'" (1:30-33).
Second, how the kingdom of God grew.
Once, Jesus wanted to have a retreat with his disciples so that he might
teach them more about the kingdom of God (Lk 9:10-11). Jesus and his
disciples made a secret attempt and got away from the people by boat. But
the people watched Jesus' and his disciples' movement very carefully and
they went around the lake shore and arrived before Jesus and his company.
And some of them said, "Good morning, Jesus! How are you Jesus?" They were
shameless people. Jesus should have rebuked them, saying, "Would you please
allow us to have a staff conference? Would you!" But Jesus did not rebuke
them. Out of his deep compassion, Jesus began to plant the seed of the
kingdom of God in the crowd of people, who were more than 5,000, not
counting women and children. On the previous day, Jesus had fed them with
the five loaves and two fish to their fill. Now, Jesus wanted to plant the
seed of the kingdom of God in their hearts. Jesus said to them, "I am the
bread of life." Then many began to grumble. Some of them said, "Is he not a
cannibal?" They all ran away except the twelve disciples. Jesus asked
Peter, "You do not want to leave too, do you?" (Jn 6:67) It meant, "Peter,
you are ready to run away from me." But Peter confessed, "Lord, to whom
shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that
you are the Holy One of God" (Jn 6:68,69). In this despairing situation,
Peter's impromptu speech flew from his soul. In this verse, "word of life"
clearly refers to the kingdom of God.
Through common life with his disciples, Jesus taught them that he is God
himself. Jesus also taught them God's purpose for him. It was Jesus'
crucifixion, through which he shed holy blood for sinners. It was Jesus'
resurrection, through which he promised to come again to judge the living
and dead. Jesus again and again predicted his death and resurrection to
plant the seed of the kingdom of God. Finally, Jesus showed them his
original image as God on the Transfiguration mount (Lk 9:28-36). At this
moment, Peter opened his spiritual eyes and began to see Jesus as the holy
God. Once Jesus tested them, how they thought of him. "Who do the crowds
say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and
still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."
Most of his disciples were vague about Jesus' messiahship. Jesus asked,
"But what about you?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God" (Lk 9:18-20).
This was the shortest and most spiritual answer again in history.
Peter knew that Jesus is the Christ of God. But customarily, he was
involved in a political contest, with the motto, "I am the greatest!" Of
course, Peter thought that he was the greatest because he was the top
disciple. But John and James did not think so. They thought that they were
smarter than Peter, the hillbilly. Even Bartholomew thought that he might
be the prime minister in the kingdom of God, which they thought that Jesus
would establish on earth.
When he heard Jesus' calling, "Follow me," the kingdom of God was
planted in Peter's heart. Peter himself was sure that the best thing in the
world is the proclamation of the kingdom of God. Peter began to proclaim
the kingdom of God. After Jesus' ascension, Peter became a senior shepherd.
Most Christians believed that God's blessing would be overflowing. Instead,
they confronted fiery persecution. Because of persecution, the early
Christians had to split their families and scatter all over the place where
they could avoid persecution (1Pe 1:1). Peter did not sympathize with early
Christians. Rather, he urged the early Christians to proclaim the kingdom
of God wherever they might be. Peter also urged the early Christians to
participate in the remaining suffering of Jesus Christ (1Pe 4:13). The
early Christians were like a flaming fire.
When we review the life of St. Matthew, it is unbelievable that Matthew
was changed 180 degrees, so completely. He betrayed his suffering people.
He betrayed his country. Finally, he betrayed himself to make money in that
hard situation. When Jesus visited his tax collector's booth and knocked,
Matthew was pushing a peanut butter sandwich into his mouth. Jesus knew
that he was lonely because he was all by himself. To this lonely man, Jesus
said, "Follow me." As soon as Matthew heard Jesus' word, "follow me," he
was convinced that it was God's voice from above. Suddenly, his spiritual
eyes were opened to see Jesus as God. Now to him, money was nothing but a
piece of paper. He began to think that Jesus is the Son of God. He began to
believe that the kingdom of God is as small as a mustard seed. But when it
grows, it grows real big. Later, St. Matthew, the former tax collector,
wrote the Sermon on the Mount, the constitution of the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is also like yeast. In Jesus' time, the word "yeast"
had a bad nuance of "corruption" or "fermentation." But here, Luke compares
the kingdom of God to yeast. Yeast has a power to work from inside. Yeast
has the power to explode the explosion, all of a sudden. When yeast gets
right inside, then unavoidable change comes. Let me tell you a story. There
was a very bright and ambitious young man. He had many-dimensional ability
to write a poem and at the same time he could be a politician. When he was
very young, he was not sentimental about his pathetic national situation.
He wanted to be a great man in his country situation. He was a Jew. At that
time, Judaism wanted to extinguish the early Christians. Paul managed to
get credentials to destroy all Christians.
But something happened. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly,
a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a
voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you,
Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied (Ac
9:3-5). At the moment, Jesus said to him, "Why do you persecute me?" At the
moment, the beam of the kingdom of God shone in his soul. In spite of his
wickedness, God forgave him in order to use him as an evangelist for the
Gentile world. The Lord called Ananias and asked him to help Saul. But
Ananias said, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he
has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority
from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name." But the Lord
said to Ananias, "Go!" (Ac 9:13-15). So God sent him as a shepherd for the
future shepherd for the Gentiles. Acts 9:15-16 says, "But the Lord said to
Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the
Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him
how much he must suffer for my name." On the basis of seeing Jesus on the
road to Damascus, he appointed himself as an apostle. Finally Paul was
shackled and sent to Rome to be judged by Caesar, because he had Roman
citizenship (Ac 25:12). But they did not do anything. They just left him
alone in the jail. He had nothing to do. But he had something most
precious. He had the kingdom of God in his heart. He had also many sheep
around him. They were jailers. When St. Paul proclaimed the gospel of the
kingdom of God, they despised and rejected him outwardly. But inwardly they
accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Nobody thought that the gospel of
Jesus started in the hearts of prison guards through Paul. This story
explains how the kingdom of God, as small a mustard seed, grows and
Third, the narrow door (22-30).
One day Jesus went through the towns and villages teaching the word of
God on the way to Jerusalem (22). Someone asked Jesus, "Lord, are only a
few people going to be saved?" (23) This man knew that there are more
wicked people than innocent people. So only a few people can have a joy of
salvation. Jesus said to him, "Make every effort to enter through the
narrow door" (24). Here, the narrow door implies Christian lifestyle.
Ungodly people are very hostile to Christians because they hate to live a
holy life. Jesus told the man that he should be ready, because our Lord
will come like a thief, anytime (Lk 12:39-40). Some said to Jesus, "I know
you. I know where you come from." But Jesus will say, "Away from me, all
you evildoers!" (27) Because they did not have the seed of the kingdom of
God, Jesus told them that their eternal condemnation will be great and
everlasting, while the holy saints will rejoice together with Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob. Let's read verses 28-30. This short story tells us the
theology of the millennium in a few words. We must decide to choose to go
through the narrow door, Jesus.
Fourth, Jesus' sorrow for Jerusalem (31-35).
At that time, some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this
place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." Jesus replied, "Go
tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow,
and on the third day I will reach my goal'" (32). Jesus meant that he would
do his mission and on the third day fulfill God's mission on the cross.
Jesus knew that God chose his people Israel as his own people of all
nations. God chose them as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:6;
1Pe 2:9). But they abandoned God and were corrupt beyond recovery. Jesus
knew how God bore with them for 42 generations. But there was no sign that
they would repent. So Jesus began to weep, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...how
often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her
chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (34)
May God help us to keep the seed of the kingdom of God in our hearts and
enter through the narrow door.