This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
PRAY FOR THE PEOPLE OF MOORE, OKLAHOMA
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
18-19 Then he went on, “What is the kingdom of God like? What illustration can I use to make it plain to you? It is like a grain of mustard-seed which a man took and dropped in his own garden. It grew and became a tree and the birds came and nested in its branches.
20-21 Then again he said, “What can I say the kingdom of God is like? It is like the yeast which a woman took and covered up in three measures of flour until the whole lot had risen.”
The kingdom is not entered by drifting but by decision
22-30 So he went on his way through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way towards Jerusalem. Someone remarked, “Lord, are only a few men to be saved?” And Jesus told them, “You must do your utmost to get in through the narrow door, for many, I assure you, will try to do so and will not succeed, once the master of the house has got up and shut the door. Then you may find yourselves standing outside and knocking at the door crying, ‘Lord, please open the door for us.’ He will reply to you, ‘I don’t know who you are or where you come from.’ ‘But …’ you will protest, ‘we have had meals with you, and you taught in our streets!’ Yet he will say to you, ‘I tell you I do not know where you have come from. Be off, you scoundrels!’ At that time there will be tears and bitter regret—to see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets inside the kingdom of God, and you yourselves excluded, outside! Yes, and people will come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and take their seats in the kingdom of God. There are some at the back now who will be in the front then, and there are some in front now who will then be far behind.”
Often Jesus’ description of the smallness of God’s kingdom -it’s like a seed or a bit of yeast- seems like a way of comforting his disciples: it starts small but it will grow and flourish in its own time.
Here Luke proceeds to place material which suggests that it is necessarily small because the entranceway is narrow. The way of Jesus is demanding but there is no easier way into the kingdom. People either come in as disciples or they don’t come in at all. Mere acquaintance with Jesus, mere acceptance of Jesus as your buddy, still leaves you out in the street. The kingdom will grow but some of those who expected to be there may be in for a sad surprise.
Jesus was not into gaining friends and influencing people; he did not sign up for the power of positive thinking. He knew goodness is hard and never pretended otherwise. That’s why the most successful churches keep the real Jesus out of circulation.