We thank God who has allowed us to gather today around His word. With the eye of faith, we can see people gathered in various places. We are thankful that we can meet in this manner, but God’s word urges us not to neglect the gathering of the saints because through it we are encouraged, assisted and supported by a word of testimony or prayer. There is blessing where we are physically together and united as one body in the Lord. Intercede that the Lord will make it possible for us to meet again one day.
In today’s text we read about the work of the Lord Jesus on earth. He knew that His time was restricted therefore He worked over-time. Sometimes He had to walk long distances on foot and when He arrived at His destination, people were expectantly waiting and He needed to work. The crowds He addressed were different. There were those understood what He spoke about and others who did not grasp and questioned what He said. Jesus aimed to bring His message across to all the listeners.
18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 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.” 20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.” 22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 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.’ 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 where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 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. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
Luke 13:18 – 30
This portion shakes the heart and causes one to pray, ‘Lord, do not pass me by. Lord stay with me.’ The first will be last and the last will be first. The Christian walk should not be walked in just any manner. If you know the Lord, you cannot claim that you know all and no longer require any help. If this is so, it is a bad sign.
In this text, Jesus strove to enlighten His listeners about the kingdom of God. He tried to show and explain the essence and reality of the kingdom of God which was difficult to grasp. How wonderful are the tidings of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ – a person can understand the gospel message even though he is unlearned. Simple truths can be revealed and suddenly things dawn on one and one is enlightened. Jesus used parables to portray the very essence of the gospel.
In this text He used the illustration of a seed, a mustard seed which was small and insignificant. The seed was so small and insignificant that one could walk over it and not even notice that something had happened. But once this seed had been planted in the ground, it sprouted and became a great tree which could not be hidden. Birds found places to sit on it and rest.
What is the implication for the children of God? The gospel of the Lord Jesus might seem very insignificant and of no value. But if it is planted in the soil, the result will be visible. It develops into a tree where various types of birds can rest and find a place to come home. What type of gospel is active in your life? Has it become a haven where others can find rest?
If a person has the gospel of the Lord Jesus, it will be obvious. It cannot be hidden. It will be evident. It is a place of attraction. A place people can lean on. A place where they find something they cannot find elsewhere. It will not be a place full of thorns that scratch and hurt. People should find a rest and a haven, not pain and hurt.
Jesus then compares the kingdom of Heaven to a little yeast that penetrates the dough until it has worked all the way through. Jesus presents how it works and reaches mankind. Those who lived in darkness could not understand this, they did not have any idea of what was to come. Jesus came with light and words that explain this wonderful Kingdom. Jesus brought the gospel to the people through their lives. This should encourage you, old and young alike have a part in this kingdom. Nobody is excluded. Everyone can come into this kingdom. We, who are part of this kingdom, ought to be a haven for people, not a tree filled with thorns that cause pain and hurt in others when they draw near. Everyone should experience this as a kingdom to which they can belong and where they can be made whole.
While explaining the truth of the kingdom of God to the people, someone asked Jesus a question 23“Lord, will those who are saved be few?” What is his intention with the question at this moment? Was he trying to trap the Lord or deviating from what the Lord had intended?
Look at the Lord’s wisdom. He does not answer directly. He answers wisely. If the Lord had answered, ‘Yes’ then the man could have said, ‘Oh, I knew I would be excluded, there’s no hope for me’; if the Lord had answered, ‘No’, then his response might have been, ‘Oh, wonderful! So let me continue with my own agenda!’ The Lord did not answer according to his way of thinking because He saw beyond the question. The man might have had an understanding of what Jesus said and he realised that if it was the truth, how many would really be saved? Another may come with a good question and give the impression that he has a good understanding, but he has ulterior motives which aim to corner you and weaken your faith.
Jesus’s wisdom is amazing. He is not taken up by the question. Through His answer He brings a greater depth of understanding. 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. The man asked a question. His motive is unknown. Jesus answered not only him but each of us. Jesus brings another aspect of salvation. Jesus not only answered one person but us all: Strive, make every effort to enter the narrow gate. We must ask, ‘Lord, will I make it? Will I be counted among those who will be saved, or among those who will perish?’ Christian, where you find yourself? This question should galvanise you into action, into bearing fruit. “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” Will your Christianity lead to salvation? During lockdown, Christian, where do you stand? Are you there where you will be saved or on slippery ground and in danger of perishing?
Jesus brings this answer: “Strive (make every effort) to enter through the narrow door.” This is the task we have been entrusted with – strive to enter in at the narrow gate. In any circumstance in which you find yourself – problematic, alone, without assistance from your pastors or counsellors – you must make every effort to strive that you enter through the narrow gate. This is a time to strive for faithfulness. This is a time to strive to be found in the faith and in the Lord, not to be cast out where the immoral, the dogs and the drunkards are. This is a time where we must strive in prayer to be found faithful in the Lord. This is a time where we must strive to be found with and in the Lord and not taken away and enticed by Satan.
If a person is idle, he busies himself with evil. Christian young people, what are you busy with? Are you striving or is this period an idle time where you float around and enjoy your lusts? Is this a time where you are in the pit of the internet, hooked on pornography and sex? It is terrible if mature men are busy on the internet and swept away by it. It is something disgraceful and should not even be mentioned. This should be a time where we communicate with the Lord, in prayer or through the Bible.
Look at athletes. Their minds are set on the race. They set their sights on the top 10 or top 20. You too, should exert yourself for that goal and prize. If you are not in training, you will fall by the wayside. In your spiritual life it is the same. You will be snatched up by other things and ultimately find yourself outside the kingdom.
There is a striving involved in order to enter through the narrow gate. It is not a free for all to reach Heaven. There is a high cost involved. You need to be of this kingdom to attain to to the eternal Kingdom.
This question slipped in while the Lord was speaking about the Kingdom of Heaven. It should wake us up and cause us to tremble. When Jesus answers, it seems as if He decided to reveal the true essence of this walk in life: you need to strive to enter through the narrow gate. Where do you find yourself? Do you do what you want and at your own leisure? Such people are not striving. One marvels at some people’s words. Their words are burnt up with fire there and then. If you claim to be striving to enter, you will be disqualified because of your flippant, easy talk. Your speech is worthless, not worthy of the narrow gate.
25 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.’
Some listen to the gospel but take no notice as they have no time for it. My friend, are you that kind of person? Do you take no notice of those who preach the gospel in your streets, homes or areas. You look at the wicked and see how well things are going with them. All the doors for them are open and they live it up. Do you have the same attitude as they have?
‘Lord, open to us,’ they say as if they have the right to have the door opened to them. Oh, these human rights that we cling to! In heaven they will not be there. You can have all the rights on earth but in heaven one Man rules- Jesus Christ. Everyone listens to you now because of your position and money but in heaven that will disappear and there will be the One before whom everyone, even you, will bow.
The owner of the house will get up – let everyone know that truth! The doors of heaven are wide open for us now. The gate of grace – the door of salvation is wide open. Answer the call and enter in while there is still time! This invitation is to you, whether you are burdened or lost, whatever your need is. Here is the invitation: come in, there is abundant help and assistance. The owner of the house will get up and close the door. He who is inside, is inside. He who is outside, is outside. We will meet with this true lockdown one day.
We have been in lockdown for 58, 59 days and many are tired of it, but once the owner of the house has locked the door, it will be locked for all eternity. There will be no point of return for you. This time of mercy will pass by. This is the time to race for the open door. Get in. Strive to attain this kingdom.
The Lord will stand up and welcome those who are inside, those who have come out of great tribulation and suffered for His name sake. He will invite them to enter the glories of the Father because they have forsaken the pleasures of this world and all it offered. Those who are outside will hear the words: ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ Does He know me? Does He know you?
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 where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’
If Jesus stands up and says, ‘I do not know you. Who are you?’ That will be the most terrible lock down – hell and damnation.
Consider Judas. He was with Jesus. He was trusted by Him. He sat at His table. He put his bread into the same dish as the Lord’s. These are the ones who will say: ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ He will say: ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ All the teaching that you heard in your streets will hound you and these words will accompany them: I do not know you.
You stumble and sin because someone does not greet you or because of the insignificant things people do not do to you. Friend, what does that compare to the words that the Lord will utter one day against you? ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ Do you want Jesus to chase you away from His presence? What causes that to happen? Your sin. The sin of pride and self-recognition. The sin of failing to bow and humble yourself. What hinders you? What keeps you from Jesus? What sin encompasses you that you cannot break loose and enter His door? Jesus will stand up and say, ‘Friend, that is why I gave My life. That is why I was crucified and rose again. I gave my last for you.’ What keeps you from Jesus’s saving grace?
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21
Jesus knows His own. He knows those who only say, ‘Lord, Lord’. He will have to say, ‘Depart from Me. Because you knew that I was your Lord, but you failed to keep My commands and My words.’
The word of the Lord says, 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” Rev 22:11. You who do good, cling to it, continue in it, do not slacken. Hold on to the gospel. Cling to the Lord. Do you hear the word of the Lord? Let us examine ourselves. Are we still on track or do we find ourselves amid a forest? You started off so well. You strove. Where are you today? You were a joy to the brethren but now you are in the bush, you are lost. What has taken you off the track? What has enticed you? What has drawn you away like a magnet from that which you knew was true? How has the devil enticed you? What came in? What infiltrated your life? The life that had been redeemed by Jesus and His gospel. What has come in that you have veered off?
What has taken you off those years of labour and striving where time and time again you proved yourself true to the gospel? Have you become great in your own eyes? Has greatness filled you to such an extent that you have lost your life?
29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.
Some constantly resist and despise the gospel, but others will come from the east and the west and sit at the tables with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What a hope! The Lord has His faithful ones scattered among the nations. He said that this gospel will spread across the globe to every nation and they will feast at the table of God. Yet how frightening this is! They will come and the children of the kingdom will be cast out. This humbles a man and you want to cry out, ‘God, keep me humble. Keep me faithful that I will be true to the end!’
Is there a hell worse than the hell of Jesus saying, ‘Depart from Me?’ Jesus will say, ‘This was your place. This was your realm. All this had been prepared for you. Your name was written in the book of Life but it had to be erased.’ What will you feel? What will it help to say, ‘Lord, you preached in our streets?’ What will it feel like? Brethren, I cannot explain the pain I feel if this should be the case with any person among us. Some will respond and say, ‘Just leave me to live my life. I will turn at the end.’ Friends, such words will serve as your condemnation. May God help us to repent from the sins that have caused us to err and be on the outside. Turn from them. Why should you wait for eternal damnation – turn today! This is your opportunity. Come to the Lord and say, ‘Lord, I am turning back. This is my opportunity.’
Conclusion Albu van Eeden
Friend, will you allow the truth to judge you today? The Lord Jesus said, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 Will you allow the truth of God’s word to judge you? Allow God to judge you and find you guilty because then you can run to Christ for salvation and forgiveness. Even if this message has hurt – the truth hurts – it sets you free. Have you been finding excuses for yourself during the message? In your heart and mind, have you have manoeuvred yourself out of the guilty seat?
When I was a child, I watched trains at the railway station. When a train came in from Johannesburg and had to go to Empangeni for instance, they manoeuvred the train with a large locomotive from one track to another. This is what some people do when they listen to the truth. They find themselves in the guilty spot, but they manoeuvre themselves out of it as they listen to the message and at the end of the message they declare themselves innocent. They do not realise that they have closed the door to heaven because Christ came to save sinners. Christ came for those who have seen their sins and who say, ‘Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. I have sinned.’ Allow the truth of God to judge you today. Do not run away from it. Do not find excuses.