Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

The Gathering Ministry of Jesus 9/1/2013
Dear friend,

As we continue our journey with Jesus as He travels towards Jerusalem for the purpose of laying down His life for the sin of the world including ours, we come to another encounter with those who were getting increasingly annoyed with Him and His teachings. Today we find Him eating at the home of one of the chief Pharisees on the sabbath day, and as our text says, "they watched Him." They were not watching Him for the purpose of learning from Him, but rather they were watching Him in order to see how they could discredit Him and His teachings. Perhaps they had invited Him to the home of the Pharisee on the sabbath and had arranged to have a man that needed healing present just so they could try to catch Him breaking the sabbath should He heal the man.

In handling the situation, He exposed their hypocrisy (1-6), he taught them about humility (7-11), and hospitality (12-14) and then spoke a parable about the Great Dinner. (15-24)


Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.


The title of these writings is "The Gathering Ministry of Jesus" which allows us to see the over arching purpose of Jesus' descension to this earth as the God-Man, which means that God came in the flesh. It is referred to as the incarnation of God, which we celebrate each Christmas. It is important for us to continually keep this in the forefront of our mind and in our hearts so that we would not lose sight of the seeking heart of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

On the front cover of our worship bulletin are the words that has always motivated the gathering ministry of Jesus and yet does: "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." This is the focus in which we will approach this text today and we pray the through this time we will be encouraged, counseled and inspired to do just that: "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, THAT THE HOUSE OF THE LORD MAY BE FILLED." Jesus is not referring to an outward church but is referring to the invisible church which made up of all those who have been called by the Gospel and have come believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

How did Jesus respond to the setup by the meal which was being hosted by one of the chief Pharisees on the Sabbath Day? He asked two questions to which no one responded.

KJV Luke 14:1 And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

Jesus then asked a second question and again no response, for they could not answer him. How could they under their existing system of rules concerning the Sabbath?

5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
6 And they could not answer him again to these things.

Observing how they sought the chief rooms, he spoke this parable...
7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

As He now had a teaching moment, He taught them of humility, which can be defined in this way: It it not thinking less of oneself, but thinking of oneself less. He did this by pointing out to them of the folly of taking the choice seat at the wedding, for when one does that there is always the possibility of being humiliated by being asked to take a lower seat when someone else of "higher importance" would come to the wedding. Besides that, we might add, a wedding is not about the guests, but it is about the bride and the groom...Both James and Peter speak of this same topic in their epistles.....

Why did they want the chief seats? It is because they were mistaken in their knowledge of who they were, for they did not understand that their "seat" was not to be due to their assertiveness, but it was due to the benevolence of the Giver of all things, God through Jesus Christ. Pride causes us to think that we deserve the front seat, but the truth is we do not deserve anything at all. True humility takes us to the cross where we see that we are undone, that we are a sinner, broken in need of repair and only a gracious and forgiving God can help us. We are told to....


KJV James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

KJV 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

KJV Proverbs 29:23 A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.


He then speaks to them of how they should be hospitable in their invitations to dinners or suppers.

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

He tells them who not to invite as well as who to invite. Do not invite those who will pay you back in return, but invite those whom are not or will not be able to reciprocate. He is comparing the payback/reward which comes from people versus the payback/reward which comes from God. He goes onto to say that they will be blessed not by the poor, maimed, lame and the blind, for they are not able to do anything in return, but the reward/recompense will be from God at the resurrection of the just.......

"Charity and necessity must be the norms for all' laws; and there should be no law that should not be bent and interpreted according to love; if there be, it should be abrogated, though an angel from heaven had made it. And all this serves for the purpose that our hearts and consciences be strengthened thereby. Then, also, the Lord teaches us how we shall humble ourselves and subject ourselves to others." Martin Luther summarizing this Gospel lesson.

Here we see the one way love of God being demonstrated through Jesus,

"Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.” It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing. Let’s go a little further, though. Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…. Grace is one-way love"

From Tullian Tchvidian's book on One-Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World, a quote from Paul Zahl

We are to demonstrate the grace of God by reaching out to those who cannot repay our kindnesses towards them...Let us not forget that the Gathering ministry of Jesus in is the forefront here.......Yes, the Gathering Ministry of Jesus through us.......Let us learn from Him today...

As all this is being said, one of them sitting at the table said: Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
A proper observation, as he seems to see the blessing that comes to those who are caught in the gathering net of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May we be drawn deeper into this kind of thinking, in that we are more concerned about the blessedness that come to a human soul who has been gathered that we are about being a stickler for detail in our structures/systems.......

He now sums it up with another parable: The Great Banquet Invitation

16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

Jesus stays on this theme of supper and eating as he brings forth this parable. He speaks of great supper, not just a supper and says that many were invited. And at suppertime he sent a servant to tell them that had received the first invitation to come, for all things were now ready......It is documented (Sa'id 382) that when noble men invited others to a supper in those days that two invitations were sent out: One sometime before and then just before the supper a second one was sent out. That is what is being described here. It would be similar to our custom of RSVP. What was the response to those who were invited?


18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

It was a great offence to have agreed to come initially, but when the second invitation to make an excuse. In those days no one would buy land without seeing it first, no one would buy oxen without testing them first, and no Jewish man would discuss publicly concerning his wife, or any of the females in his house.

All the excuses that were given were not done in truth, but sounded like good reasons, but in reality they were lies.
It was not that they could not come, it was that they would not come.......They chose not to come to the Great Supper.

What happened then to the supper? Who was going to eat the food that had been prepared?

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

The servant was sent out quickly by the angry master of the house and to to into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind. These were the same people that Jesus had told the listeners to invite to their homes and to their meals. Evidentally this had been done as the servant said..;

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

Wow, that is great. Many had come to sit at the table, but there was still room. Perhaps those who came were found in the normal passages of life as they had been gathered from the streets and lanes of the city and perhaps they had come quite willingly and quickly to the supper meal. But now what happens...

23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
KJV Luke 14:24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.


Jesus, always mindful of the fact that He came here to gather lost souls to Himself for God, now gets very direct with his words. He speaks first concerning their going to gather from the highways and hedges and then speaks to those who turned down the invitation to the supper. Please note that he changes the places/locations that the servants are go into in order to "compel" them to come to the supper.. I will place the Greek spelling as well as the various meanings that have been attributed to these three words: lane, hedge, compel

lane r`u,mh, hj, h` as an urban passageway shut in by buildings on both sides narrow street, lane, alley, in contrast to platei/a (broad way, open street)


hedge fragmo,j, ou/, o` fence, hedge (MT 21.33); plural, by metonymy, hedgeside paths or country lanes, frequented by vagabonds and beggars (LU 14.23); figuratively, of a divisive element keeping two groups separated wall, what separates (EP 2.14)


avnagka,zw impf. hvna,gkazon; 1aor. hvna,gkasa; 1aor. pass. hvnagka,sqhn; (1) of compulsion outwardly compel, force (AC 26.11); of friendly pressure (strongly) urge, constrain (MT 14.22); (2) passive, of compulsion inwardly feel obliged to, feel compelled (AC 28.19)

Jesus speaks to the servant, saying there is still more room!! It it not filled, yet there is room. Is He saying, "Go out into the more hidden places of the city/country and find those who are living out of the normal pathways that people travel on, go look in the places that are not so easily visible in everyday life. Go to those who are separated from society,, those who have come to a place where they see no way out of their condition, go seek them, go find them, minister to them, help them.......

He then tells the servant to "compel" them to come in to the supper, so that MY house may be filled. Wow! We today understand that to compel someone to come to Christ does not have certain meanings. It does not mean as the Crusaders thought it meant, that to force souls to God with fear of the sword; it does not mean to beat someone with your fists to convert them...(A brother shared with me that he heard of this happening, where a man beat another man until he told him that he would become a Christian.....)

As Jesus has been talking with them in this travel narrative which began in the 9th chapter of Luke, He has been pointing to Himself as the door to the kingdom of God. He has been doing signs and wonders, healing and so forth, all the while moving towards the cross and his resurrection. As He holds before His audiences the Great Banquet His heart is burning with the desire to gather all who will come to Him. He desires that we would minister with a heart of compassion, of urgency, of committedness, of purpose, and of fulfilment.

Those in the hedges, in the places of separation, have a difficult time believing that the grace of Christ is for them. He paid it all, all to Him I owe, Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.......

May the love of God constrain us to go with a heart of compassion to the outof way places to find them. We bring to the in humility and kindness cross of Christ before their eyes, and thereby demonstrating the love of God as well as the need for repentance toward God and faith in Christ.

23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
KJV Luke 14:24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Jesus is speaking first to the Jews in their time, and He is certainly pointing to the Gentile visitation, but there is application for us today.

It is a question of our hearts and where they are at today. There is no lack on the provision of the Great Provider of the Supper, for all things are ready, Come and Dine at His table today....

Lastly, those who turned down the invitation to the Supper, forfeited their place at the table. There is a place for everyone, and the only way that we will not sit at that Table is if we reject the invitation and do not go to the Supper.
May we not be one of those to whom He speaks in verse 24.

Let us please be clear, no one who comes will be denied, but only those who do not come.....

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is abundant, greater than all our sin, He is calling today.



1. It may not be on the mountain height

Or over the stormy sea,

It may not be at the battle's front

My Lord will have need of me.

But if, by a still, small voice he calls

To paths that I do not know,

I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:

I'll go where you want me to go.


(Chorus)

I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,

Over mountain or plain or sea;

I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;

I'll be what you want me to be.


2. Perhaps today there are loving words

Which Jesus would have me speak;

There may be now in the paths of sin

Some wand'rer whom I should seek.

O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide,

Tho dark and rugged the way,

My voice shall echo the message sweet:

I'll say what you want me to say.


3. There's surely somewhere a lowly place

In earth's harvest fields so wide

Where I may labor through life's short day

For Jesus, the Crucified.

So trusting my all to thy tender care,

And knowing thou lovest me,

I'll do thy will with a heart sincere:

I'll be what you want me to be.

May His grace surround you today.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 01 Sep 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Jesus' Gathering Ministry 8/25/13
Dear friend,

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us today and always. Amen.

KJV Luke 9:51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

Luke 10:10 And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
11 And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
17 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.


As Jesus moved toward Jerusalem and the hour in which he would lay down His life for the salvation of the world, He had encounters with people both inside the synagogue (Jewish church) and outside on the streets. He showed the love of God towards the world by teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. All this He did because of His compassion for fallen humanity whom He came to save from sin's penalty and condemnation. As He did so, He had to come face to face with people and their religious structures which had difficulty in seeing past the rules and regulations that guided their actions toward people within their churches.

In our Scripture text today after He demonstrated this gathering grace to the woman who had been sick for eighteen years by healing her, the ruler of the synagogue took exception with Him for doing such a miracle on the sabbath day, saying that there are six other days when these healings could be done. Please note that the ruler did not address Jesus, but complained to the people..... Jesus countered this protest by calling him, the ruler, a hyprocrite, through question reminding them that each of them unties their ox or donkey on the sabbath in order to water it. He went on to say that this woman for eighteen years has been bound by Satan and asked the question that should she not be loosed from this bondage on the sabbath day?

There was no response to His question of contrast, for who could say anything against His reasoning? For the ruler had to face the fact the this woman had been "thirsting" for healing for eighteen years and their animals perhaps experienced thirst for a few hours of the morning while they awaited their masters coming to bring them to the water to drink? What could he/they say?

Luke 13:17 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

The people rejoiced in the healing of the woman while the adversaries of Jesus were silenced in shame. May we learn more of the gathering heart of Jesus through this example before us today and be given the ability to honestly evaluate and examine as to how we are living our lives in relation to the kingdom of God. Are we gatherers of the lost? Or have we become so entrenched in our system/structure that we are inhibited from seeking to find the lost?

As we travel with Jesus in the Gospels on the way to Jerusalem and the cross, it is not difficult to see that the disciples had a hard time grasping the gathering grace of Jesus as He taught and demonstrated the kingdom of God that He had brought to this world. It remains a difficult matter for all including ourselves yet today, for everything around us speaks of structure and programs, which are necessary, but often lead to a systematized Christianity and into a business like venture.

While it is true that there needs to be structure, yet it is important to always remember that the kingdom of God is a gathering kingdom of the lost. Where systems and structures inhibit us from freely moving about to gather the lost, we must make the necessary changes in order to allow the systems and structures to facillitate the gathering of the lost but not to the point that programs become more important than the gathering of the lost.

Jesus had asked two questions in response to the ruler's protest against His healing and allowed His hearers the opportunity to work out the answer in their own minds.....Some were put to shame while the others rejoiced....

Now He illustrates further by asking a couple of more questions, but this time He gives the answer Himself, again giving them opportunity to think things through in their minds, by using common and ordinary things of life in His illustration.

18 Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

The kingdom of God may only consist of Himself and 12 disciples at this point, He tells them, but it will grow into a large kingdom, one which will provide a resting place, shade and protection for many many for the years to come. The point here seems to be that though it be small now, growth that will come because of the seed being planted is exponentially great. In other words, it will mulituply itself many times over. We here in our congregation are enjoying the shade of the trees that have grown as a result of the seeds being planted by those who lived before us here in this area.


20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

He then pointed out that the kingdom of God is hidden, comparing it to yeast that when put into bread permeates the rest of the dough causing it to rise to become larger than it was. One cannot look on the outside of the bread to see how it grows, for it is something that is inside the dough itself. This seems to illustrate that the gathering work of the kingdom of God is largely unseen outwardly, with the effects being seen as the growth occurs.

Summarizing this portion, we learned that as Jesus is on the move toward Jerusalem to the cross, He is gathering lost souls as He journeys there, that religious people and their structures do not understand or accept His gathering ministry and resist Him all the way, that the kingdom of God though small in its beginning will grow great in size and that the substance that causes the expansion of the kingdom is largely unseen by the outward eye.

22 And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

Now let us thing through these lesson for ourselves, individually and corporately (as a congregation), using the four following points to guide our thoughts.

1. Jesus is gathering lost souls as He journeys to Jerusalem and the cross
2., Religious people and their structures do not understand or accept His gathering ministry and resist Him all the way.
3. The kingdom of God though small in its beginning will grow great in size.
4. The substance that causes the expansion of the kingdom is largely unseen by the outward eye.

We recognize that the whole is made up of its individual parts and so we can say that collectively as a congregation we are the sum of the members in our congregation and their individual gifts. We are part of a church Federation, the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America, and have been for many many years.As a congregation we are committed to being under the Constitution, Bylaws and Annual Meeting decisions of the larger body which governs our doctrines and practices, but as a congregation we operate largely in an autonomous manner. That means that we are given the freedom to conduct the structure/systems of our congregation according to the goals of our people as long as they do not violate the larger doctrines and policies of the larger body.

Recognizing that we remain here on earth in order to facillitate the gathering ministry of Jesus, let us ask the Holy Spirit to assist us being open to evaluation as to how we are doing in our gathering ministry. And we will do this on a congregational basis and not on a national basis. (Kingston Apostolic Lutheran Church and not the Apostolic Lutheran Church of America)

Let us start from the bottom of our four point list, by being reminded that the substance, the Word of God, that causes the expansion of the kingdom of God is largely invisible. It is as Apostle Peter wrote: 1 Peter 1: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

So therefore, it is of utmost importance that we continue to preach the Word and simply allow that Word to bring forth life in Christ through faith, so that the life that follows will be as a result of Christ living in, through and out of our lives. When the tree is good, the fruit will be good also.

From point number 3, we can say that though we may be a small congregation, that does not mean that we need to continue to be small. As long as our congregation is connected to the Vine, we will bear fruit. (John 15)

And now the hardest question to ask oneself of this text from points 2 and 1. Have I as an individual, as the pastor of this congregation become too systematized/structured as to lose sight of the gathering ministry of Jesus? I do not thinks so, but maybe that is the current state. I just do not know.. But I do know that God is always working, and He sends people into congregations to bring different energies, different focuses,and/or different experiences to bring about change that helps a congregation to continue/return to Jesus' gathering ministry.

May we patiently wait upon the Lord who wants us to continue in Jesus' gathering ministry. He will lead us and guide us into His ways which will encourage, equip and inspire us into seeking to comfort the hurting as well as to gather the lost......

In Christ,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 25 Aug 2013 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Gathering Ministry of Jesus 9/1/2013
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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