Bible and Theology
The True Nature of the Kingdom of God
Michael Youssef, Ph.D.
Jul 12, 2023
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Read Luke 13:10-21.

In Luke 13, Jesus again teaches about the Kingdom of God by challenging the manmade rules of the Pharisees with an incredible miracle. He exposes the heartlessness of the religious leaders and reveals that God's Kingdom is the only source of true love, compassion, wisdom, and blessing here and now by healing a woman who "had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years" (v. 11). Because the prevailing belief system concluded that this woman suffered because she had sinned and was under God's judgment, she was an outcast. Though everyone else had rejected her, Jesus delivered her from her torment, healing her completely.

Though everyone else had rejected her, Jesus delivered her from her torment, healing her completely.

Astonishingly, when the Pharisees saw what Jesus had done, they neither praised God nor marveled at the miracle. Instead, they were furious with Jesus for healing the woman on the Sabbath! Of course, nowhere in God's Law is there a prohibition against making someone whole by His power on the seventh day. Jesus hadn't broken God's Law, only man's traditions. Even the Pharisees believed it was permissible to care for an animal—say, an ox or a donkey—on the Sabbath. So, Jesus responded to their indignation: "Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" (v. 16). The Pharisees were humiliated.

Then, immediately after this healing, Jesus presses on to correct misconceptions about God's Kingdom; He likens it first to a mustard seed and then to leaven (see Luke 13:18-21).

Many of the Jewish people believed Messiah would come to deliver them from servitude to Rome. When He failed to meet their expectations, they rejected Him—except for a handful of disciples. Even that handful of disciples thought the Kingdom of God was going to be an earthly kingdom with visible power and splendor. But Jesus explains that His Kingdom is like a mustard seed—from an external perspective: miniscule. But eventually it will expand to include every language, tribe, and nation so that one day the faithful will amount to "a great multitude that no one could count" (Revelation 7:9).

Then Jesus reveals the incredible internal influence His Kingdom will have, like the power of yeast mixed into dough (see v. 20-21). No matter how overwhelming the influence of evil may appear now, make no mistake about it, the Kingdom is quietly working in the nations, resurrecting dead hearts and transforming lives.

Prayer: Father, I am so humbled that You would draw near to me, a sinner—that You would resurrect my heart of stone. Thank You that You are at work in the world today, bringing hope and renewal in so many lives. May I bear witness to Your glorious Kingdom—the source of true compassion, love, and blessing. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

"It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches" (Luke 13:19).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon series Enduring Wisdom: WATCH NOW