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

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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