June 14th, 2020
Good morning church family! Today we will be talking primarily about what Jesus, Mark and Luke called the Kingdom of God. Matthew, however, referred to it in his gospel as the Kingdom of Heaven.
The idea of God’s Kingdom is essential to Jesus’ teaching and is mentioned 50 times in the Gospel of Matthew alone. As a matter of fact, it is the main thrust of his Gospel.
The Kingdom of God started with the coming of Christ. When the long awaited Messiah, Jesus, through whom God had established His reign on earth, had finally come. It was the message proclaimed by John the Baptist, preached by Jesus and emphasized by Matthew.
The Kingdom of God is the spiritual realm over which God reigns as King, and it’s the fulfillment of God’s will on earth.
Our scripture for today is Matthew 9:35-10:8. It is taken from the New Revised Standard Version,
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon from Cana and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”
Our passage begins with Jesus proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, which is, of course, the fact that God has provided salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While He proclaimed this truth, he also healed sick people, raised the dead, cleansed lepers, and casted out demons. So, He proclaimed the truth, while taking care of the people.
While He is doing so, He had great compassion for all of them, because they were so lost. He told His disciples there were so few laborers to take care of all of people. Thus, they should ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the field.
It’s important to note that since some of the OT texts and many of the parables taught by rabbis often referred to Yahweh as the master of the harvest. Thus, Jesus’ identification with the Lord of the harvest is strongly implying His deity.
Now it certainly makes sense that Jesus would begin to expand His outreach under these circumstances. So many lost people with so few laborers. While He was God, He was living within the bounds of humanity, consequently, He couldn’t reach everyone.
So, He summoned together His twelve disciples and gave them the very same mission, focused on the very same group of people, with the very same message, and demonstrating the very same power.
Because the disciples were sent by Him to do His work, they received the necessary empowerment from Him. And as His chosen Apostles, (apostle means “sent ones”), they were also given the authority of the very one who commissioned them.
So, what does this mean? They had everything they needed to do what God had called them to do!! Do you ever feel like you can’t do what God has called you to do?? I promise you, He will equip you. Remember that saying, He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those He calls! And it’s true!
Once the disciples received the mission, and by the way, chapter 10 in this gospel is often referred to as the mission discourse, they were told to go nowhere near the Gentiles or the Samaritans. They were to only go to the Jews.
Of course we know that later the good news of the gospel was opened to all people, of all nations. But initially, Jesus spoke to the Jews. Why? Because God had chosen the Israelites to tell the rest of the world about Him. But again, the Bible clearly teaches salvation is for all people.
Since their mission was the same as Jesus’ they were to proclaim the good news, the kingdom of heaven was near. They were also to heal those who were sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons. They were to do everything Jesus did. Now what’s that saying we’ve all heard? What would Jesus do?? That applies to us as well here today! And it’s a good question to ask ourselves when we are unsure about something.
The disciples were given Jesus’ mission. And the mission was not optional for them, nor is it optional for us. This mission is the very reason the church exists! We are to proclaim the good news of the gospel, to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near, and to make disciples as stated in the Great Commission.
Have you ever wondered what was meant by the Kingdom of God? First please note that Jesus the Messiah has already begun His Kingdom on earth in the hearts of His followers. But the Kingdom of God has not yet been fully realized.
When it is fully realized oh my, words simply cannot describe the beauty of this Kingdom. Evil will be destroyed, there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor tears as John tells us in Revelation, and we will live in peace and harmony with one another.
So to define it a little further, the Kingdom of God is the reign of God that He brings through Jesus Christ – it’s the establishment of God’s rule in the hearts and lives of His people, the overcoming of all of the forces of evil, the removal from the world of all the consequences of sin – including death and all that diminishes life – and the creation of a new order of righteousness and peace. And it is going to be AMAZING!!
Church family, for all who believe, the Kingdom of God is in your heart, yet it’s also near at hand, to be fully realized when Jesus comes again. I leave you with one final question. Have you joined the mission of Jesus Christ by proclaiming the gospel and that the Kingdom of God is near?Let us pray. Father we lift up the Cassell family to you as they mourn the loss of their loved one. May they feel your presence, peace, comfort and most of all Your love. Remind them that she is in a better place. Help us to keep the family in prayer as well as the other families who recently lost a loved one.
Lord we lift up this country to You. Help us to see You, to know You, to love You. It’s only through You that the strife, racism, division and violence will end. Convict us where we need conviction and then help us seek repentance. Forgive us for our sins.
Our Father, Who Art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. And all of God’s people said Amen.
Let us all pray for each other. Jesus loves you and so do I.