The Kingdom Of God: Luke’s Gospel

It has been said that, in the Gospel of Luke, we see Jesus as “the Friend of the friendless” (William Barclay, The Men, The Meaning, The Message Of The Books, p. 17). This is wonderful. Jesus is our Friend. We rejoice in this great when we sing, “What a Friend we have in Jesus.” Jesus is our Friend, but there is more to the gospel than friendship. Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus is not only our Friend. He’s also our King.

– He is the King of our salvation. This is what we say, when we say, “Jesus is our Saviour.” He is the King of my salvation. Only Jesus can save me. Without Jesus, I cannot be saved. He is our Saviour, the King of our salvation.

– He is to b eking in our life of discipleship. This is what we are saying when we say, “Jesus is my Lord.” He is the King in my life of discipleship. Jesus must take first place in my life. If Jesus is not set on the throne of our lives, you and I are not living as true disciples. Jesus is our Lord. He is to be King in our life of discipleship.

When Jesus was on earth, he went from place to place, preaching the gospel of the kingdom. The kingdom of God – this was the central theme of his preaching. When, today, we are faced with the message of Jesus, we are faced with the question, “How can I enter the kingdom of God?” This the most important question of all. There is nothing more important than this.

When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of God, people misunderstood him. They thought he was a military leader, a political leader, a social reformer. They had missed the point. Jesus had a higher calling. Jesus is our King. He came to this world as our Lord. He came to be our Saviour. When Jesus spoke about the kingdom, he was not speaking about an earthly kingdom.He was proclaiming the kingdom of God, the rule of God, the reign of God. When Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, he called his hearers to acknowledge him as the King of their salvation, the King of their lives. Today, Jesus says to you, “What is your relationship to the kingdom? Have you entered the kingdom?

Jesus’ first hearers missed the point. Today, we can still fail to understand Jesus. To see him as a great teacher, a social reformer, a political activist is to misunderstand him. Who is Jesus? He is our Saviour. He is our Lord. Who is Jesus? This is more than a question of historical curiosity  It’s more than a question that we can ask, casually, about a man who lived centuries ago. Who is Jesus? This is the question of our eternal destiny. It is the question of heaven or hell. Jesus is the way to heaven. Without him, you and I are bound for hell. Who is Jesus? This is the most important question of all. It’s a personal question. It is directed towards you and me. “Who do you say that I am? Jesus puts his question to every one of us. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Saviour from sin? Have you crowned him as Lord and King of your life? This is the question which the Lord puts to you today.

How can I know Jesus as my Saviour? How can I submit to him as my Lord? You must recognize that you are lost. You must acknowledge that you need to be saved by Jesus. You must ask Jesus to save you. You must come to him with the faith that he, alone, can save you, the faith that he, alone, is the Saviour. This is where we must begin – knowing Jesus as Saviour. From there, you go on, in faith, submitting yourself to Jesus as the Lord of each and every part of your life.

We now turn our attention to Luke 9:57-62 – This is the story of three men. Looking at their story will help us to see the importance of trusting Jesus as our Saviour and submitting to him as our Lord.

There can be no Christianity without discipleship, Christ. These three men were unwilling to submit to Christ as Lord because they did not recognize him as Saviour. Where there is a true recognition of Christ as Saviour, there will also be a real submission to him as Lord. The two belong together. Jesus is our Saviour. Jesus is our Lord. To have one without the other is a contradiction in terms. Jesus Christ comes to us with the offer of forgiveness. He also comes with the call to discipleship. We are not at liberty to say, ‘I like the offer of forgiveness, but I can do without the call to discipleship.’ Those who have received him as their Saviour find their joy in following him as their Lord.

What can we learn from the story of these three men?

  (a) 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  (Luke 9:57-58).

This man probably thought that Jesus had a great career ahead of him. He wanted to get in on this, to be a part of this great career. he wanted to give his support to Jesus the social reformer, Jesus the political leader. Jesus brought him back down-to-earth. Jesus said, ‘No. What lies ahead of me is the cross.’ This was not exactly a great success story, but it was God’s way of victory. Men and women don’t like the way of the cross. They want to follow a great leader, but they do not like to be brought low before the cross. The way of the cross may not be popular, but it’s exactly what we need.We need more than an example we can follow. we need more than a leader to whom we can give our support. What we need is a Saviour, who is able to save us – to bring us forgiveness, to give us new life, and to lead us on to a place in heaven. For Jesus to be our Saviour, there was only one way for him to go -the way of the cross. Without the cross for Jesus, there would be no salvation for us.

  (b) 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-60).

The matter of salvation is a matter of the greatest urgency. Here, we see a man who is unwilling to make a real commitment to Christ: ‘Yes, I will become a Christian but not now. I’m too busy.’ We dare not be like this man. You and I must enter the kingdom of God without a moment’s delay. We must enter the kingdom of God immediately. Nothing must keep us back. This is the most important matter of all – entering the kingdom of God. The moment you realize that you need Jesus, if you are to escape hell and enter heaven, you do not say to yourself, ‘I’ll become a Christian sometime, but not now. I have something more important to do.’ There is nothing more important than making sure that you have entered the kingdom of God, making sure that you belong to Christ, making sure that you are saved. Nothing must stop you from entering the kingdom of God. No-one must keep you from entering the kingdom of God – not even your nearest and dearest (Luke 14:26).

  (c) 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62).

Our Lord Jesus Christ calls for an unconditional surrender of of our lives to to him. Here, we see the half-hearted man. He says that he wants to follow Jesus – on his own terms. He says to the Lord, ‘Lord, I’m prepared to follow you, but it has to be my way, not your way. This is not discipleship. This is not following Jesus at all. If we are to be disciples of Jesus, he must come first. My convenience is not the most important thing. His Word and his will – these are the most important things in the life of discipleship.

That’s the story of these three men. It’s a sad story. It’s an oft-repeated story. What about the story of your life? Is it a story of being unwilling to come to the cross of Christ and humbly confess your need of Christ to be your Saviour? Is it a story of apathy- too apathetic to settle the most important matter of all the matter of your eternal salvation? Is it a story of half-heartedness? You say that you’re willing to follow Jesus, but your words are hollow. They’re empty. They mean nothing. Whatever your story may be, the story of your life can be rewritten, if you will come to Christ right now. Trust him as your Saviour. Receive the salvation that he offers to you. Submit to him as your Lord and walk with him on the pathway of discipleship.

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