A Sanctuary of Security
Read Luke 13:10-19
There is nothing quite so amazing as the huge redwood trees of California. Not only are they the tallest trees in the world, they are the largest living things on earth. Some of them are 300 feet high and over 2,500 years old. It is almost imponderable to imagine that something so large and steadfast began with just a single seed. But it did. And you would think that trees so large must have a tremendous root system, one that reaches down hundreds of feet into the earth. But they don't. The great redwoods have a very shallow root system. A shallow root system? But if that's the case, how is it that when the mighty Pacific storms come with their devastating winds that the redwoods still stand? Simple. The root systems of this mighty forest of redwoods are all intertwined. They are locked to each other. Not one tree is alone for all the trees support each other. Each tree provides protection to all the other trees in the grove.
What a powerful system of preservation and protection God has devised in this mighty forest. But there’s another sanctuary of security instituted by God whose root system reaches far beyond the boundaries of a single physical location. The Church. And it’s no wonder that in today's reading Jesus used the illustration of a tree to describe the steadfast shelter that is the Church.
As we’re reading this portion of Luke chapter 13, we find it appears to be divided up into two separate subjects – the role of the Church and the Kingdom of God. But I think as we look closely, we'll discover that one is really just a continuation of the other.
The occasion was the Sabbath, and Jesus was once again teaching in the synagogue. While He was teaching, Jesus noticed a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit.
When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, "Woman, you are healed of your sickness!" Then He touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised and thanked God! Luke 13:12, 13
This woman met God and was touched by God in the house of God. What better place for this to occur. And what better day than on the sanctity of the Sabbath. Only, the leader of the synagogue didn’t see it that way. He was indignant that Jesus would, on this holy day, put forth the effort to miraculously change this woman's life. How absurd that must've sounded to those present that day. A person in the synagogue may receive from God on any day but the holiest day. God is available every day of the week, and to think otherwise is to miss the forest because of the trees. Which brings us to an interesting point.
In many Bibles, there’s a little space between verse 17, which concludes the healing in the synagogue, and verse 18, which presents an illustration made by Jesus. I happen to believe these two passages belong together. Let's read verses 18 and 19, and then I'll tell you why.
Then Jesus said, "What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? It is like a tiny mustard seed planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds come and find shelter among its branches." Luke 13:18, 19
I believe the Kingdom of God should be reflected in His Church. Like a mighty tree, its branches should extend beyond its four walls into the outside world. The place of worship should be an oasis of the peace offered by God. With its roots firmly planted in the Bible, and its root system securely locked worldwide, God's mighty Church then becomes a spiritual haven. A safe place where people everywhere will be drawn to, and find shelter in, its branches.
If you haven't found a church that offers you sound Biblical teaching while providing a shelter in your storm, keep looking. They’re out there. And their branches are filled with others just like you. People who have found a safe place to heal.