Sometimes, the preposition the New Testament uses is the preposition into. We believe into Christ. And this is the fundamental thing that happens to us when we're born again, when we're converted to Christ. Our faith unites us to Him. The Spirit unites us to Him. And in that way, we are bound together. And underneath all that is the fact that in everything Jesus did, He was representing us.
And because He was representing us, everything He has done is really ours. None of these things are what we work up in ourselves. All of these things we draw down from our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is everything and He fills our nothingness. Tune in with Christ, a teaching series with Sinclair Ferguson.
Visit ligonier.org slash teaching series to learn more. Jesus told parables about the kingdom of God, one about a mustard seed and another about leaven in a loaf of bread. So what's with the mustard tree?
What's with this leaven? Jesus is saying, that's what the kingdom of God is like, small beginnings, yields great and vast fruit. The disciples expected that Jesus' kingdom was going to be here on earth.
It was going to be formidable, militaristic, and more powerful than the Romans. But that idea didn't line up with God's plan for His people. Welcome to the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, and today as we continue R.C. Sproul's sermon series from the Gospel of Luke, we'll find out what Jesus meant when He referred to a mustard seed. This morning we're going to continue our study of the gospel according to St. Luke. We're still in the thirteenth chapter, and today I will be reading from verse 10 through verse 21, and I would ask the congregation please to stand for the reading of the Word of God. Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, and behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity 18 years and was bent over and could no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, Women, you are loosed from your infirmity. And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. And He said to the crowd, There are six days on which men ought to work. Therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day. The Lord then answered and said, Hypocrite, does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it away to water it?
So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, think of it for 18 years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame, and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. And then He said, What's the kingdom of God like?
To what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden, and it grew and became a large tree, so that the birds of the air nested in its branches. And again, He said, To what shall I like in the kingdom of God?
It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until it was all leavened. Again, we are supremely blessed this morning to be able to hear an inspired record of the words and activities of our Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry. This is the divine Word of God.
Please receive it as such and be seated. Let's pray. Again, our Lord, we recognize that in our day no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor entered into our hearts such extraordinary things as we have just read of in this hour. Give us now a glimpse of Jesus, who in His compassion healed this woman bound for so many years. Encourage us by this event and by His Word, for we ask it in His name.
Amen. We're told in this text this morning that Jesus was once again teaching in a local synagogue, the location of which is not given to us by Luke, but we can assume safely, I think, that this was perhaps the last opportunity that Jesus had to teach publicly in a Jewish synagogue before His execution. It was customary in those days if a visiting rabbi was in the neighborhood that he would be invited to expound the Old Testament text that was the designated text of that day.
And Jesus now, having been invited, assumes that role of teacher explaining an important text of the Old Testament. But we're told that while He was doing this, He was interrupted when, behold, we're told there was a woman who appeared, obviously coming in through the back door of the synagogue, and would sit on the back right-hand side, which was the designated seating place for women in the Jewish synagogue. Jesus could not help but notice her because of her obvious deformity. She was a woman who, when she walked, was bent over completely double. And modern commentaries have furnished for us a medical diagnosis of her condition, which is called spondylitis deformens, having to do with a deformed spine, where the bones of the spine are fused together into a single rigid mass, making it necessary for a person to walk completely stooped over double, not just a little bit tipped over, as some people suffer from somewhat common spinal problems, but this rare disease would double a person over altogether. In my lifetime, I've only known one person who suffered from this particular disease. And I can remember watching this man being bent over, trying to navigate his environment, where his vision was severely restricted to only a couple of feet in front of him, because for us to navigate close places, we have the advantage of being able to look in front of us 10, 20, 30, 40 yards ahead.
But somebody with this condition can only see as far as his eyes can be lifted up only a couple of feet in front of him. And this woman enters in her crippled condition into the synagogue. And Luke tells us that she has been afflicted with this particular infirmity for 18 years.
Not only was the deformity grotesque in its appearance, but also at times exceedingly painful. Jesus was giving a lecture, and he noticed the woman bent over in half coming into the back of the synagogue. We don't know why she was there. We can guess that perhaps she had heard that Jesus was in town and knew of his reputation. And so she made her way painfully and slowly to the place where he was teaching.
And when Jesus saw her, Luke tells us, he stopped his teaching. And he called her to the back of the synagogue. And he called her to come forward.
And he did two things. He spoke, and he touched her. And as she came to him, he looked compassionately upon her and said, be loosed from this infirmity.
Be released from the grip of this dreadful disease. And then he laid his hands on her. He touched her, and not gradually or slowly, but immediately, in a very instant, for the first time in 18 years, the woman stood up straight, and her spine had been healed, and the affliction removed from her. In all the multitude, the whole congregation rejoiced for the glorious things that were done by Jesus on this occasion, with one notable exception. The ruler of the synagogue, we're told, was indignant by this action of Jesus. Now, it was the responsibility of the ruler of the synagogue to establish the liturgy for the day, and even to issue the invitation to the visiting rabbi who would be there to give the interpretation of the Old Testament passage.
But this man suddenly was shocked by what he saw. And in his judgment, the Sabbath day in the synagogue was not the place to carry on a healing ministry. And so in his anger, he rebuked Jesus for disrupting the normal flow of the liturgy with this action toward this poor woman. And so he addressed the crowd, and he said to the congregation, there are six days on which men ought to work. Therefore, if you want to be healed, come on one of them, but not on the Sabbath day. The rebuke was aimed at the woman, of course, and directly at Jesus and at the whole congregation for giving their seeming approval to this violation of Sabbath protocol. How did Jesus answer this man?
Did he look at him and say, so sorry, I forgot what day it was? I should have asked that lady to make an appointment on one of the other six days of the week, but I just got distracted when I saw her. I lost my head. I lost my place, in fact, as where I was expounding on the Old Testament text. And I'm sorry to have violated the liturgy in this manner. I promise you it won't happen again.
No, no, no, no, no. That's not what Jesus said. Listen to how he answered the ruler. Hypocrite? Hypocrite? You're a ruler of the synagogue, and you're outraged because I've just healed this lady. You're a hypocrite.
Why did he call him a hypocrite? He said, don't each one of you on the Sabbath day loose his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it away to water it? Do you think it's a violation of the Sabbath day to give the necessary basic requirements of life to your jackasses? And you won't allow me to do it for a human being? What's wrong with you? Where's your value system? You give more value to your donkey and to your ox than you do to human beings. Does that strike you as strange? A topsy-turvy world in which the brutes of the earth are treated with more dignity than human beings?
You ask how could this be? In recent weeks, the newspaper has been filled with people writing in and protesting or people standing on the street corner holding up signs, outraged because some bears were euthanized when a woman was mauled by a black bear locally. Or go to New Smyrna and see what goes on to the extent of which the eggs of turtles are protected. And then after you've talked to these people, spend a day with John Barros at the abortion clinic where we routinely kill a million babies a year in the state of Florida.
Oh, I love the bears, and I don't want to hurt the turtles. But where is the outrage of the systematic destruction of living human beings? Recently, it was said that the worst crime of the 20th century was the Holocaust perpetrated by Hitler and his henchmen with the extermination of 8 million Jews. Genocide. The final solution, according to Adolf Eichmann. And yet we've taken 60 million and torn them limb from limb, not because Hitler is orchestrating it, but we're doing it ourselves to our own children, to our own babies.
And there is a deathly silence in the land about that. Oh, this past week the Sentinel reported its latest poll where they asked people their opinion of the law that would restrict abortions after 20 weeks instead of after a longer period of time by cutting back the period in which it was lawful to pay to have your baby murdered. And the poll results showed this. Forty-eight percent of the people who were polled were in favor of pushing the timeframe back. Fifty-two percent of those who were polled were opposed to these further restrictions on abortion. Now, I don't know how much I trust these polls. I know I don't trust the Sentinel.
Everybody knows that. But you have—how did they frame the question? Who were they asking this question to? Where was the poll taken? Those are variables that can have a significant outcome on the results of any kind of polling process.
And also you might come away from that and say, oh, well, now the edge is getting closer. There's 52 percent support abortion, 48 percent oppose it. No, the question wasn't whether you're for it or against it. It was whether you were for it or against restricting it by another few weeks. That's all. I suspect the edge of those in favor of abortion on demand or pro-choice, as it's called, is greater than 4 percent. And I read those things.
I have a tendency to get sick in my stomach. But then I think of Wilberforce, who year after year, parliament after parliament, brought up protests against slavery in England. And year after year after year, he was roundly and soundly defeated.
Why? Because slavery was an established convention. And we have now established abortion on demand as a societal convention in our culture, which is almost impossible to overturn once it has been established. But then Jesus punctuated this activity with two small parables that should give us considerable hope. He went on to say, what's the kingdom of God like?
How would you answer that question? And Jesus gave two little parables to answer the question, what's the kingdom of God like? Not what's the society like or what's the culture like, but what's God's kingdom like?
And to what shall I compare it? And he said, it's like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden, and it grew and became a large tree so that the birds of the air nested in its branches. And we know that the mustard seed was one of the tiniest seeds of all of the seeds that could be found in Palestine. And Jesus says, look what you can get from this tiny little seed. You put that little seed in the ground and you water it and you wait. And pretty soon a little sprout comes up out of the earth and it begins to grow and it grows some more until it becomes not just a bush, but a tree, 10 feet, 11 feet, up to 15 feet with a very strong canopy, dense in its vegetation, so dense that multiple varieties of birds seek it out as a place to find their rest or even build their nest, all of that from this infinitesimally small seed. And he said, it's like a woman who has three measures, and she takes a little tiny piece of leaven, a little bit of yeast, not a heaping dose of it, but just a tiny little bit of yeast will leaven that whole measure. So what's with the mustard tree?
What's with this leaven? Jesus is saying, that's what the kingdom of God is like, small beginnings, yields great and vast fruit. You know, within 40 years after Jesus gave that parable, the kingdom of God had penetrated every locale in the Roman Empire.
He started with a handful of people and they leavened the whole lump. The little seed that was planted by Jesus has grown into a tree that keeps us in its branches even today 2,000 years after. Jesus was saying this, look, the society may be 10,000 times stronger than you are and totally opposed to everything that you hold holy and sacred and precious, but the kingdom of God is like John Barrows by himself, standing in front of the abortion mill here in Orlando, which has now gathered the attention of hundreds of thousands of people in the United States of America. Small thing, but it can grow, and it will grow, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it because it's the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of men. And with God, all things are possible.
With Christ, all things are possible. A woman bent over in half can be made straight, a culture twisted and distorted in half can be turned right side up when the people of God become the people of God. I hope you could hear the concern that R.C.
Sproul had for his congregation at St. Andrews Chapel. He was concerned for the culture that we live in, and he was concerned that we not get wrapped up in it. Today's message about the kingdom of God really helps us refocus our attention, doesn't it? We're glad you joined us for the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind.
I'm Lee Webb, and each week we return to R.C. 's sermon series from the Gospel of Luke, and each week we benefit from his careful exposition of this gospel. You can take your own study even deeper when you contact us today and request the digital version of R.C. 's commentary on Luke, drawn from decades of study and pastoral reflection. This commentary clearly explains God's Word, and that's why I commend it to you today. To receive access to the digital download, just contact us with your donation of any amount at renewingyourmind.org. And before we go today, I want to extend my personal thanks for listening to the program and for your generous financial support. We're grateful that the Lord is using this outreach to proclaim the holiness of God to as many people as possible around the world. I hope you'll make plans to join us again next week for Renewing Your Mind.
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