Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God for the privilege of public worship yesterday morning and evening. Praise God that he is a God of Peace. Praise God that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Praise God that the good news of the gospel brings peace to those who will, by faith, receive it. 1 Thessalonians 5:12, Isaiah 9:6, 2 Corinthians 5:9.
Confess the sin of not pursuing the rule of peace in our hearts as we could, and of not praying for the unity of peace as we should. Colossians 3:15, Psalm122:6.
Please ask the Holy Spirit's help as you come to his Word.
Please read Luke 13:18-21
Quiet and unseen, but look at the global growth.
V18. Look at the phenomenal growth.
This passage opens with the word 'therefore', which shows that this teaching arises from what has just taken place. Many of those looking on and hearing the synagogue ruler’s caustic comments could have concluded that whatever his power and ability, Jesus was never really going to be able to achieve much in terms of the big picture. Yes, he could attract huge crowds, and they loved him and were thrilled by what he said and did, but was a real mass movement for change developing? Yes, he could heal individuals and many of them. And while no one would disparage the impact on individuals and their families, what did it all amount to? He did have the twelve men who generally followed him around and seemed to be his closest confidants, but could anyone honestly say that he was changing the face of the Jewish religion, let alone address the Roman occupation issue? Jesus now speaks to those possible silent questions, through two parables.
He had used these parables before. As we had considered previously, Jesus was not beyond teaching the same thing two or three times. Matthew, Matthew 13:31-33, and Mark, Mark 4:30-32, record similar parables when he was in Galilee, which was earlier in his ministry. Luke records these parables when Jesus is in the last year of his ministry and on his way to Jerusalem. That may be why the emphasis is slightly different in Luke than in the other two synoptic gospels. Matthew and Mark focus on the difference in size, between the smallness of the seed, and the largeness of the plant that grows from it. Whereas here, we see that the size of the seed is less important than what is finally produced. There is also a difference in the gospels in the location of the sowing. In Matthew and Mark, the sowing takes place in a field and on the earth, respectively. Here the man sows the seed in his garden. The point is not where it is sown, but the fact that it is sown. Note also that there is nothing special about how the seed is planted; in all three gospels, the seed is sown, presumably by just throwing it unto the ground. Again, the point is that the seed is sown. While those points are not critical in the parable, they are nonetheless worth keeping in mind.
The critical point of the parable is the growth that takes place. The growth from this one grain of seed is so great that the birds of the air can nest in the plant's branches. One commentator writes, "The birds roosting in the branches are often a symbol for the nations of the earth, (Ezekiel 17:23, 31:6, Daniel 4:12,21). The Kingdom will be universal. Men from all nations will find themselves therein." And you and I are living testimony to that. Had Jesus tried to explain to those listening that his Kingdom would extend across the entire world, they would have found it hard to imagine, and yet it does.
V20. Look at the unseen yet incredible power.
While the 'mustard seed' parable spoke to the Kingdom's massive global growth, this next parable about the “leaven” speaks of the Kingdom's incredible transforming power. Leaven doesn't normally have a good connotation in the Scriptures. Usually, it is used in an evil sense and is associated with that which corrupts, see Luke 12:1, 1 Corinthians 5:7,8, Galatians 5:9. In this instance, though, the leaven represents the good and gracious power of Christ's rule through his Kingdom.
The leaven was placed in the flour; it was hidden in it. There is no reference to any mixing. The leaven is just there, working away, unseen and quietly, without fuss. And what work it does. It's exciting to think that Jesus used the analogy of 'leaven' and how it works to describe the work of the Kingdom. We tend to think of the church as being almost invisible, unseen, and that her work is unimpressive and insignificant. 'What good are we doing? What are we really achieving?', can often be the perception. Yet, we know how the gospel, as it was proclaimed through the Roman empire, often through persecution, had an astonishing impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people. And see how that quiet, unseen, steady growth has continued unabated throughout the past 1800 years.
We need to hear these parables and take encouragement from them. Our daily communion with God, as individuals and families, is by its very nature, quiet and unseen. Our public worship of God on the Lord's day morning and evening is unassuming and simple. We come, we worship God using His Word, and leave. Not much seems to change from week to week, but Christ is at work among us. And it is serious work. He is preparing us for a season of growth, and that is involving both pruning and growth. We would love to experience the latter without the former, but it is simply not possible. The leaven is being hidden in our lives. And when the growth comes, as it will, it will come quietly, almost imperceptibly. We will see it in the coming months and years, in our own lives, in our children's lives and in the salvation of those whom Christ will bring to hear the good news of the gospel of peace. Christ is at work among us. The seed is being sown and will reap a harvest to the Father's glory in due season. You and I just need to continue developing and maintaining the simple habits of daily family, and weekly corporate, worship. As we seek first the Kingdom of God, the power of the gospel will do the rest. Mark my words, I have seen it before, and by the grace and power of God, we will see it here in Ottawa.
A Psalm to Sing
Sing with joy in your heart to God.
Psalm 84B - Link to the words. Link to it being sung.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed".
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 96 - What is the Lord's Supper?
Answer - The Lord's Supper is a sacrament in which, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to Christ's appointment, his death is proclaimed, and those who receive rightly are by faith (and not by the mouth in a physical manner) made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God for the quiet power and work of the Lord Jesus Christ as he builds His Kingdom around the world.
Thank God for the remarkable privilege to be part of that Kingdom, by His grace.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC