The Grace of the Kingdom of God - Luke 13:10-21

On November 11, 1921 an unknown soldier that died during World War I was brought and interned at Arlington Cemetery in a three-level marble tomb. The soldier represents all of the unknown soldiers whose bodies are not able to be identified. Since July 2nd 1937, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been continuously guarded 24 hours a day 7 days a week. A special unit was created called 3rd US Infantry Regiment in 1948 which bear the responsibility of guarding the tomb. Regardless of the weather, terrorist
attack or natural disaster, this group of dedicated soldiers remains guarding the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The requirements of receiving the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification badge is so stringent that it is the 2nd least awarded badge in the entire army. These men understand that the soldier they guard could one day be themselves or one of their closest friends. It is a great honor to guard the tomb.

It is a great honor to watch the changing of the guard at the tomb in Arlington Cemetery. There is a profound sense of honor and respect that fills the crowd as one participates in remembering those who have died in service to our nation. It is a humbling experience and leaves you changed. Most US citizens who encounter the tomb have a profound level of respect, but this is not true for everyone. On November 8th, 2011 while one of the soldiers was guarding the tomb, there were tourists who were laughing and not giving due respect to those who have fallen. As the soldier hears the laughter, he stops his march, then turns and shouts, “It is requested that everyone maintains a level of silence and respect.” The crowd went silent. Those who were talking were shamed. They should have known better. The long walk through the cemetery should have prepared them with reverence and awe, but these tourists did not get it. They did not get it, and were shamed because it.

There is a time and a place for people to be shamed. Disrespecting those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country is such a time and place. It takes courage to call people to honor. We are going to look at a scene in the life of Jesus where he demonstrates courage by shaming those who should have known better.

Jesus has just finished a long discourse that begins in Chapter 12:3-13:9. The main point of the sermon is to prepare one’s self for the Day of the Lord. Right before this sermon, Jesus pronounces woes on the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. He then pleads with the crowd (and with the Pharisees who would have been in the crowd) to repent or they will all likewise perish. The scene changes in verse 10: “Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.” The “now” shows us a change in scenery, but as you will see, it is giving the people an opportunity to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.

The Kingdom of God Extended to the Helpless

Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues. Luke mentions in 4:16 that it was his custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach. In that same account in Luke 4 Jesus was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah and Jesus found the place where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering the sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19 (emphasis added).
After reading those words from Isaiah, Jesus looked at the crowd and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus correctly taught from the Scriptures, which means he interpreted the Scriptures in relation to Himself. All of the Scriptures testify about Jesus. Jesus taught the people from the Scriptures then he would perform miracles to verify his claims. Don’t miss this, the Kingdom of God is extended to the helpless, but it is first extended through words. Teaching and sharing Biblical truth is how we extend the kingdom to the Helpless. Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”

The Bible teaches that we are all helpless, dead in our sins, blinded by the spirit of the age, until our eyes are opened through the Word of Christ. This is why we must preach the Word. Faith in Jesus comes from the hearing of the Word. I pray as you hear this word today that you would have faith and you would realize that every word you hear is the kingdom of God being extended to you. Will you accept it?

Verse 11,

“And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten herself.”
Luke draws are attention to this woman who was there who had a disabling spirit. For eighteen years she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. Understand the context that it would have been very rare for a disabled woman to get close to one teaching in the synagogue. Women were not very highly respected
during that time, and especially those who had a physical deformity. It would have been assumed (as we mentioned last week) that this woman was disabled because of her sin. She was afflicted because of her wrongdoing.

Verse 12, “When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her…” Jesus noticed her. He did not dismiss her because she was a crippled woman, but He saw her. Jesus sees her helplessness. Jesus sees her 18 years of affliction. Jesus saw her. She was not forgotten. Beloved, as Jesus has seen this woman, Jesus sees you. He knows your pain, He knows your heartache, He knows your depression. He knows because He sees you. Jesus looks at you, not with anger, but with compassion. A Rabbi should not be talking to a disabled woman, but Jesus is not your typical Rabbi. We see this as a consistent theme in Luke. Jesus reaches out to the outcasts. The woman did not approach Jesus, but Jesus went to her. Verses 12-13,

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

Jesus does not see faith in this woman. He does not seeing anything that would cause him to extend healing to her, but His grace alone. Grace is unmerited free gift extended by God undeservedly to those who are spiritually disabled. Jesus said you are freed from your disability. The same word for freed her is the same word in Luke 4:18, “to set at liberty” those who are oppressed. Jesus frees the woman from her oppression by her disability. We see from the passage the disability is caused by Satan. She was bound by Satan and has been set free from oppression. Jesus teaches the truth and then shows the truth so that you will believe the truth.

The woman had no problem believing, she was made straight and she glorified God. Imagine, after living 18 years hunched over, to all of a sudden to stand straight. This would have caused extreme joy. The Bible is not a book of rules; it is a book of glory. This book highlights the glory of God unleashed on unrighteous sinners. Have you experienced this straightening?

One of the greatest misconceptions of the world is that they believe they have to get themselves right before they come to God. The exact opposite is true. You are spiritually disabled and unable to straighten out your life. You need God to extend his hand and touch you and set you free from your oppression. The way God extends his healing touch is through his Word. The preached Word is God’s invitation to you to come to Him and He will straighten you up. He will change your life. He will change your desires. He will give you victory over sin.

No soldier who has served in combat is ready for war the day they are enlisted in the army. They go to boot camp. They are tested. They are tried. They have trained. Listen to 2 Timothy 2:1-4:

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good solider of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

We have been enlisted by God as one his soldiers. Our aim is to now please the one who enlisted us in His Kingdom. We do not have everything down day one, but our whole direction changes. We no longer care about civilian pursuits for our aim is to please God. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, God is extending
his invitation to you to enlist in the kingdom of God through his Word. To enlist in this army you need to do one thing: You renounce your rights as a citizen of this world, and become a soldier of Jesus Christ and a citizen of heaven. Jesus offers himself to you. He offers you his perfect life, his sacrificial death and his death-conquering resurrection. He offers to take all your sin and to give you his perfect record, if you would only enlist in his kingdom, by following him as your King. The invitation is extended…how will you respond?

For not everyone accepts the invitation.

The Kingdom of God Irritated the Hard-Hearted

Verse 14,

But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”

This story is called a mirror account. It is very similar to the story Luke 6 where Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. But why did Luke place this story here at this point in the gospel? The words of the Gospels were inspired by the Holy Spirit, but so was the order and arrangement. Jesus did a lot of miracles and a lot of teaching, but not all his teachings and miracles are explained in the Scriptures. So why is this passage here when it is so similar to the account in Luke 6? I believe it is here to show the continued hardening of the Pharisees against Jesus. They would not listen to his teachings. He just finished a long sermon and specifically shared a story how he was giving more time to the fig tree before it was cut down. Jesus is not cruel, but loving in his warnings. Luke places this story here to show us a tree that does not bear fruit.

The ruler of the synagogue does not address Jesus directly, but indignantly speaks to the people. “There are six days that you can come and be healed, you need to wait on one of those days to be healed.” The ruler cared more about following the tradition of the elders rather than the Spirit of the Law that was given. The elders were so nervous that people would break the Sabbath law that they added restriction after restriction to what was allowed on the Sabbath. The Sabbath became a day of constant rule following rather than rest and enjoyment of God. The Sabbath rest has not ceased in Christ, but redefined to enhance our worship.

We are called to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. We should have a day that we set aside to the Lord for the worship and praise of God; a day to rest, think, and to reflect on God’s goodness to us in Christ. Our culture is so busy that we may need to spend more time thinking about the meaning and purpose of our Sabbath rest. As the summer gets started, our pace naturally slows down, but as our pace slows our worship should increase. Do not allow the summer as a time to hinder your worship, but enhance it.

Jesus sees the hypocrisy in the ruler of the synagogue. He should know the spirit of the law and he should rejoice in God’s power displayed on the Sabbath, but instead he is irritated. He is irritated that God was being glorified through the demonstration of Jesus’ power. Jesus takes this opportunity to shame the ruler and those with him who did not respect the God of the Sabbath. Verses 15-17,

Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

Jesus makes a very clear statement that these men cared more about their own animals than they did about a daughter of Abraham. Jesus shames theses Jews who would “set free” their “bound” animals on the Sabbath, but would not “set free” the “bound” woman. They were shamed, because they should have known better. Their hypocrisy was evident to all. They could not argue with Jesus’ logic.

This passage also shows the battle between God and Satan. Satan kept this woman bound for 18 years and Jesus came to set her free. There is a very real battle between God and Satan. Here God’s people were not
fighting with God, but against him. Satan is called the Adversary and in this passage, Jesus calls the Jews adversaries. They were against the things of God. People will either be against Jesus or for Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 2:15 says of the Jews that they,

…killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out (speaking of the apostles) and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to full up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last.

These Jews were not just trying to enforce the Sabbath, but in misapplying it they were fighting against Jesus Christ. They had become adversaries laboring with the great Adversary, Satan.

And here is the scary thing; the Jews really believed they were fighting on the right side. Saul of Tarsus pursued Christians to the death because he believed they were hindering God’s message until one day on Damascus Road when he heard, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” We can know the Bible, but if we misinterpret it, we may be fighting against God. Christianity is not always neat and the Bible is not always easy to understand. There are times we need to be shamed like these Jews so that we would be loosed from our bondage to the enemy. When we realize we have been working astray, we must repent. We must come to our senses and escape the snare of the devil by rejoicing in the repentance offered by God.

Life is a war and we are soldiers; we must make sure we are fighting on the right side. Luke closes this section by connecting this scene with an explanation.

The Kingdom of God Explained to the Hearers

In verse 18, Jesus starts to teach about the kingdom of God. We know this teaching is connected because Luke writes, “He said therefore,” showing that what he is about to say is tied to the previous scene. Verses 18-21,

He said therefore, “what is the Kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of a 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.” 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.”

Both analogies explain the kingdom of God to start very small and inconspicuous. A mustard seed is a small seed that grows to a substantial size, even to give room for the birds of the air to find a home. A little leaven is hid in three measures of flour, but when it is fully leavened would have 40-50 pounds of bread. In both cases, it starts small, but grows to substantial size. This is what the Kingdom of God is like. It starts small and inconspicuous, but will grow to cover the whole earth. Habakkuk 2:14, says,

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

But for those who oppose God, who are his adversaries and seek their own glory, the prophet says,

The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory.

The Kingdom of God may start small, but it will fill the earth. No one will be able to hide from the glory of the Lord for it will be like the waters that cover the sea. The whole earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.

Jesus ties the display of this power in the healing of this woman with the power that is displayed in the Kingdom of God. Jesus freed this woman from bondage to Satan through his power and that power will only grow. Satan’s time is up. The kingdom of God has come. The battle is still raging, but the beginning of the end has come. It is only a matter of time.

At the close of World War II, there were 513 men held as Prisoners of War at a prison camp in Japan. The prisoners had heard that the US forces were making progress, but that the Japan soldiers were executing all the POWs before their retreat. A mixed group of only 320 American and Filipino soldiers outflanked 8,000
Japanese troops to rescue the POWs. One of the rescues, Alvie Robbins, came across a prisoner terrified in the corner of his cell tears streaming down his face, saying, “I thought we were forgotten.” Robbins looked at the man and said, “No, you’re not forgotten. We have come for you.”

Friends, no matter what we face in this life, we must always know that we are not forgotten. The kingdom of God has been extended to us through the Son. Jesus Christ came to rescue us from our bondage to Satan and one day the trump will resound, and the Lord will descend and we will know that we are not forgotten, and we will see our rescuer face to face and hear those glorious words, “I have come for you.” Our God has not forgotten us, but has promised that his kingdom will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Until then, let us fight the good fight of faith as good soldiers of Christ Jesus by making it our aim to please Him who is worthy of our honor and respect.