Luke 13:18-35 by Pastor Dan Walker
Repentance is one of the most important words in the Bible. Without repentance a person cannot be saved. Without continual repentance, a believer cannot continue to grow spiritually. Repentance is not just saying sorry to God for your sins, it is much deeper. True repentance is the key to beginning a relationship with God and growing in the relationship. Repentance in the Bible means to change one's thinking and to turn around. To repent is first of all to recognize that what you have done is sin. Then you make the choice to turn away from that sin and follow God's ways for your life. True repentance is turning away from idols and choosing to worship God alone with your life.
Duration:47 mins 25 secs

Our message today is entitled “What is the Kingdom of God?” The kingdom of God was the main focus of all of Jesus’ teaching. In order to grow spiritually, we must understand God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, not a physical kingdom in the present age. Yet, the kingdom of God is already present in our world and influences it in many ways. Of course, every kingdom has a leader or king. The king of the kingdom of God is Jesus Christ.

John 3:3 (ESV) Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

A person must be born again or saved in order to see and enter the kingdom of God. The citizens of God’s kingdom are believers in Jesus alone.

Daniel 2:44 (ESV) And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,

Daniel the prophet tells us that the kingdom of God is an eternal kingdom that will never be destroyed. The kingdom of heaven will crush every other kingdom and bring them to an end. The spiritual kingdom that opposes the kingdom of God is the kingdom of Satan. The citizens of Satan’s kingdom are unbelievers. Satan’s kingdom has great influence in the physical kingdoms of the world. Jesus taught us to pray …

Matthew 6:10 (ESV) Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

You see, the kingdom of God rules supremely in heaven, there are no competing kingdoms there. In the kingdom of God, God’s will is done perfectly, as it is in heaven. We are to daily pray that the kingdom of God would come to this earth. And we are to pray that God’s will would be done here, as it is in heaven.

God’s church is the primary means through which the kingdom grows. The kingdom of God grows by rescuing people from the kingdom of Satan. How do we as the church rescue people and extend the kingdom? Jesus taught us one of the primary ways, as he taught his disciples.

Luke 10:9 (ESV) Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

As we bring the power of God to heal the sick, the kingdom draws near. People are convicted of their sin, repent and believe the Gospel. Today, we’re going to learn more about the kingdom of God from Jesus.

How does the kingdom of God grow?

Luke 13:18 (ESV) He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?

In the Gospels, Jesus gives many stories or parables of what the kingdom of God is like. The kingdom of God is the realm in which God rules, in which His will is done. The stories that Jesus tells about the kingdom are often designed to correct false ideas about the kingdom of God. Jesus spent so much time teaching about the kingdom because it was so important. Yet, his teaching on the kingdom is often neglected by many.

Luke 13:19 (ESV) It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds, about the size of a grain of sand. Yet, when the seed sprouts and grows, the mustard plant or tree can grow up to nine feet tall. Big enough for birds to build their nests in its branches. What is Jesus’ point? 

People tend to dismiss small things as not being very important. The kingdom is like very small seeds that get sown in many different places. The mustard seed may be words of witness or prayers prayed over an unsaved person. The mustard seed may be the tithe that you give to the Lord’s church. Whatever is done in Jesus’ name is like a mustard seed and often seems very small. But, Jesus says that it will grow very large and bring blessing to many.

Luke 13:20-21 (ESV) And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

To understand this story, we need to know that three measures of flour is about 50 pounds of flour, a very large account. The yeast or leaven that the woman mixed into the flour was a very small amount. Yet, the leaven spread through the entire amount of flour and produced bread. This story shows us that even though it seems the kingdom looks small, it can have great impact on all those around. The kingdom of God grows from very small to very large.

The great revival at Azusa Street in 1906 began with one man, Frank Bartleman interceding for revival to come to Los Angeles. The first meeting with William Seymour was with only 8 people when the power of the Holy Spirit fell. In the next three years, thousands were saved, healed and delivered in the most unbelievable supernatural ways. The impact of that small beginning, spread around the world with hundreds of millions of Spirit-baptized believers now in every country of the world.

Do not discount the kingdom power of one person or a small group or a small church calling out to God for the advance of the kingdom. Let these short stories of Jesus bring faith to your heart for where He has placed you. Do you feel like your gift from God is just like a small mustard seed or a little bit of leaven? Believe that when you offer your gifts to God, He will multiply them to bless many. 

How do you enter the kingdom of God?

Luke 13:23-24 (ESV) And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Jesus did not answer the question “will those who are save be few?” in this passage. But He did answer the same question in Matthew 7:13 where He said.

Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

So, yes compared to those who will not be saved, those saved will be few. Jesus tells us here that the way to enter the kingdom of God is through a narrow door. He tells us that we need to strive to enter the narrow door. The Greek word for strive here means to struggle, to engage in an athletic contest or to fight. Contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to enter the narrow door and be saved. In fact, Jesus tells us that many will try to enter the narrow door, but not get through it.

Luke 13:25 (ESV) When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’

The master of the house with the narrow door in this story is Jesus. When Jesus returns or when a person dies, every unbeliever will know who Jesus is. They will, as it were, knock on the narrow door and try to get it, but the door will be permanently shut. Jesus will answer from within the house, I don’t know you.

Luke 13:27-28 (ESV) But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place 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 but you yourselves cast out.

Again, Jesus repeats that He doesn’t know the people who have not believed in Him in this life. He calls them workers of evil. They are sent to hell, the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth in eternal torment. In Jesus’ day, He was speaking to the religious Jews who did not accept Him as the Messiah.

Luke 13:29-30 (ESV) And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Jesus is referring to the Gentiles who believe in Jesus will be in the kingdom of God. Some people who seem to be last in this world, not having status or wealth, will be first in the kingdom. While others who seem to be first in this world, in status or wealth will not even be part of the kingdom, they will be last. You enter the kingdom by struggling through the narrow door.

I think the church and myself included makes it seem so easy, so simple to become a believer. In one sense it is, easy, you simply must repent and believe in Jesus. Yet, many people pray that simple prayer but do not understand nor submit their lives to begin a relationship with Jesus where He knows them.

Let’s think for a minute about a traveler walking down a dusty road in life. He has a large backpack on and is carrying other things on his belt and in his hands. As he approaches the beautiful house of God’s kingdom, he sees a narrow door with a sign that says welcome. He thinks, well that looks pleasant, I’d really like to enter in and enjoy that house. As he approaches the door opens and he can see wonderful things inside the house.

But as he tries to go through the door, he recognizes that it is very narrow. Try as he might, he cannot push his way through with everything that he is carrying. His possessions represent his money, his relationships, his career, his goals and his sins.

The man lays some of the things down, but he still can’t fit through the door. Finally, he realizes that in in order to go through the narrow door, he has to give up everything that he has. Sadly, he walks away. For he is not willing to give up everything to enter the narrow door.

Yet, this man will think that he is a believer, for he has laid some things down and even goes to church once and awhile.  Yet he is not a citizen of God’s kingdom, he has not made it through the narrow door. To enter the narrow door of the kingdom requires laying everything down.

Who is excluded from the kingdom of God?

Luke 13:32 (ESV) And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Jesus is referring to King Herod as a fox that he was not concerned with. Jesus was on a mission from God. He mentions the demonstrations of kingdom power through casting out demons and healing people. Jesus was headed toward the cross to die for our sins and he knew the time was getting close.

Luke 13:34 (ESV) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Jerusalem was the capital city of Israel. Yet over the centuries true prophets of God had been killed and stoned in it. Jesus longed for all the Jewish people to believe in Him as the Messiah. Yet, there were not willing to repent and believe in Jesus. So, because of their unbelief, they would be excluded from the kingdom of God. Jesus then pronounces God’s judgement on unbelieving Israel.

Luke 13:35 (ESV) Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

In 40 years, 70 AD, the Romans would destroy the temple and the entire city of Jerusalem. In Jesus’ day and down through history, most Jews have not recognized Jesus as the Messiah and entered the kingdom of God. One day, Jesus will return and everyone, including every Jew will see Him. Only those who put their trust in Him before he returns will be saved and enter the kingdom of God. Those who are not believers in Jesus are excluded from the kingdom of God.

Those who are excluded from God’s kingdom will spend eternity in the kingdom of Satan, referred to in the Bible as the domain of darkness. There is no escape from hell, there is no presence of God in hell. In fact, it appears from one of Jesus’ parables that those in hell can gaze into heaven, which only increases their torment. To choose to part of the kingdom of God is the most important decision in life.

The only way to enter God’s kingdom is to repent and believe in Jesus. Make sure that you have laid everything down and entered through the narrow door of the kingdom. And for those who are citizens of the kingdom, we have work to do. God calls every believer to be a soldier of the kingdom and to rescue people from Satan’s kingdom.

It doesn’t matter how nice a person seems to be, how many good things a person may do, what beliefs or religion they appear to believe. If a person doesn’t know Jesus, they are not part of His kingdom and aren’t saved. Just as we would through a life preserver to a drowning person, so we must tell the lost about Jesus. Some people won’t grab hold of a life preserver and drown, but we’ve done our part. Some people won’t believe in Jesus even though we’ve witnessed to them, but we’ve done our part. May God give us compassion for those who are not yet part of His kingdom.

Understanding the kingdom of God is one of the most important things in life. That’s why God’s kingdom was the main point of Jesus’ teaching. God’s kingdom is growing all around us as we plant the seeds of God’s Word. Even though it starts out small in people’s lives, in small groups, churches or cities, it will grow by God’s grace.

To be part of the kingdom, you must struggle to enter through the narrow door. To get through that door, everyone must lay down everything they own. Those that are not willing to give all to Jesus will be left out of the kingdom.

God is calling us as believers, as a church family, to bring the kingdom near to people. We bring the kingdom near through prayer, healing, deliverance and the gospel. May God help us to rescue more people from the kingdom of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of light, God’s kingdom.