Last week about an hour after my golf game on Tuesday, I developed a sudden acute upset tummy. It improved by Thursday morning but relapsed severely by the evening. By late evening I was facing the prospect of a weekend, without medication and the possibility of finding any or even any access to a doctor. Then it dawned on me: the Lord had led me to the edge of the Red Sea so that I would be “forced” to stop trying to find all sorts of ways out and turn to Him as the only real deliverer. It came to me that in Psalm 146:2 it says “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men who cannot save.” So I sank to my knees and asked forgiveness for my “self reliance” and desperately looking for a “prince or doctor” to save me and turned the whole problem over to Him. I wasn’t instantly cured but there was a change in how I felt and slowly over the weekend I have recovered, except for feeling a bit shaky. On reflection I had spoken to the Lord about the matter, but without real conviction that He should have been my first place to flee to. This is not the first time this has happened to me, to remind me of the need to trust Him first and then take the route He shows me.
So this morning in my worship time, I see in my mind’s eye a calm sea – “Calm”, the word comes to me – as I watch, the sea is lit by a light, reflecting beautiful colours – “I give you calmness – I give you peace. After the reminder of the world-changing events, remembered this weekend through the Easter celebrations and the storm that affected you these last days – I give you the sort of calm I gave the disciples after I calmed the storm they were in. The battle is over – the victory is won! But the ongoing expedition to conquer the world for the ‘kingdom’ still lies ahead – gird yourself for action, but the victory is assured”.
So to God’s Word: After the announcement in Luke 16:16 that the kingdom of God is breaking into the world and the question in 17:20 “when will this happen”? Luke puts together 6 stories from 18:9 to 19:10 which give us different facets of how entry into the kingdom would happen. Why don’t you read these stories, think them through, and determine what point Jesus was making in each, which would help the reader to know how to enter the kingdom. This may take a bit of time but will reward you when you have done it.
Here is what I found: “The Pharisee and the tax collector” contrast two attitudes that people have as they approach God and His kingdom. On the one hand self-assured, confident that by keeping all the religious laws and regulations he had already gained entry, while the other only aware of his total lostness, nothing to offer as merit for his acceptance. The comment in vs 14 explains how the latter attitude is the one acceptable to God. The story of the “little children” underlines this and explains and illustrates the same point. Little children have no merit to call on and are totally dependent. Then the rich ruler is presented as a lay copy of the religious Pharisee. He also thinks he has managed to “earn” his way into the kingdom. He is shocked by Jesus’ requirement of repentance and slinks away. Clearly Luke wants us to perceive the contrast in attitudes and what is necessary to approach God for salvation.
Jesus then makes the astounding statement about the camel and the needle, which has had people over the centuries trying to explain it, but the point is it is obviously impossible. The disciples are distraught “who then can be saved?” they call out V 26. This cry gives the central point of all these stories, with Jesus’ answer: “What is impossible with men is possible with God”. That’s the ultimate point isn’t it? Only God can save and it is always miraculous. Salvation is far more difficult and miraculous and impossible than just passing a camel through a needle!
But the vss 31-33 are key, it is necessary for Jesus to die and be raised again, for salvation to be won for mankind. There is no other way that you can be saved, but through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Is that not what we have just spent the whole weekend celebrating?
To underline the fact that it all comes from God, Luke adds the story of the blind man being given sight. For any man to be saved Jesus must miraculously open their eyes.
So what is our response to be in all this? How do we share in this miraculous, supernatural action? Well you guessed it – by faith of course. 18:42.
And how does one who has been saved look like? 18:43, He recognizes God and His part in this whole process and just wants to praise Him for what He has done for him. Just like Zacchaeus in the next story, his life totally transformed, from a mean, crooked official to: repentance for his past sins, recompense to those who he had stolen from and a joyful generosity to all, ending with a happy fellowship with Jesus Himself, 19:5 By their fruit you will know them!
Wow what a story! There are several subthemes and points to ponder, but this seems to me to be the main thrust of all these stories strung together like this.
And what did Jesus say to me? As the mists cleared and I could see this thread more clearly, like the blind man, I was filled with joy and just wanted to praise God and share the “good news of the kingdom of God” Luke 16:16.
May this fill you too with joy and awe and motivate you to share this wonderful news.
4 Replies to “Entry into the Kingdom.”
First and foremost the prayer of my heart is, that this blog may be to the glory of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May many give their heart to Him in trust. May they experience His unconditional love and grace upon grace in fullness. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven ” Matthew 5 3 – 12. “He giveth grace unto the humble” James 4 -6.A humble heart will overflow in gratitude to the Lord and give the honor to the Lord alone. Streams of grace will flow through a humble heart to the glory of the Lord. Let us be poor in spirit! The Lord often uses the weak and broken to show His glory. His power is made perfect through human weakness . Friends i know with every fiber of my being this is true! We are living in a situation where we have to “walk” by faith in an unseen reality. “For we live by faith not by sight” Corinthians 5–7.But this unseen reality is nevertheless very real indeed. The best choice we therefore can make in our lives, is to.stay in constant communication with the Lord. I have learned to cling to His strong, loving hand. He alone is my strength and my rock. In childlike faith, I trust that He will.lead me into glory. All power and glory be to our Holy Lord forever and ever. Amen
It is a valuable lesson that we can only trust in the Lord in our sometimes weakness, illness, and just be glad in Him that He never leaves us, or forsake us. It was especially true for each one when we were in total lockdown. And it tested our faith and dependancy on Jesus. Thank the Lord that we could see His church meeting once again! We serve a Mighty God.
The Easter message gave me renewed hope…. Thank you Ian for the ongoing lessons. This blog is a great inspiration for Hans and we thank Lilly and Kathy for their encouragement. The harvest is indeed white and we need to speak to the ‘doubters’ and the ‘searchers’ at this time. Reaching out and clinging to Jesus’ garment. He spoke to me this morning before first light…”I am the light and lamp on your path” He said whilst leading me step by step over a river. One stepping stone at a time illuminated.
Hans AND I blessed by Ian’s blog!