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Sermon- Pentecost 2, 6/14/20- Jesus’ Mission and Message- Pastor Joe Asher, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany. *IN NOMINE JESU*
The Gospel of the Kingdom
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
The Twelve Apostles
10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles- The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Twice in today’s Gospel reading, the Kingdom of Heaven is featured by the apostle Matthew as he helps us understand Jesus’ earthly ministry. The first reference to the Kingdom is in verse 35 where the disciple Matthew tells us-
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
So to understand our Lord’s work on earth, a person has to appreciate this significant fact- that Christ was constantly attending to the sick, the sufferers of disease, and the physically disabled. While a person’s spiritual life with God was of decisive importance to our Savior, from the record of Scripture we know that our Lord Jesus healed everyone who approached Him for mercy and help.
If you could go back to Israel two thousand years ago and observe and follow Jesus around, one of the things you would notice is that everywhere Christ went became like the setting of a hospital emergency room. Sick people, injured people, people with long enduring internal maladies crowded in and begged the Savior to heal every imaginable infirmity. God’s Word reveals that Jesus provided miraculous help for the deaf, the blind, lepers, those with internal bleeding (the woman- Luke 8), the paralyzed (pool of Bethesda/ at Peter home), those with fever (Luke 4- Peter’s mother-in-law), those with withered/ atrophied limbs (Matthew 12), those with internal and external edema, or swelling, and Christ also healed the high priest’s servant’s ear after Peter cut it off in Gethsemene on the night our Lord was betrayed.
While saving sinners by His cross and faith was His primary mission, the Son of God also came to restore all of creation and our lives back to the way it was before sin ruined everything. In love for our rebellious and corrupted world, Jesus took time to heal broken and sick bodies- in part- to bring the world back to the way it was before- perfect, holy, blessed, and pristine. Motivated by love, Jesus saw the suffering, had compassion on everyone, and healed those in need. Again, Matthew writes that Jesus…
went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
And this truth is instructive for us today. If you are ill, or in physical pain, or if you struggle with some physical or psychological disability, know that Jesus has not changed in His compassion for all of us who suffer the challenges associated with this fallen and pain-filled world. Christ is near to all who call upon Him for mercy. And we trust that according to His Word and will, the Lord will help all who look to Him in faith.
Christ’s help may come in the form of the strength to endure affliction, for the Lord may not remove suffering because in His will we must be shaped by it. But our Savior is still the Great Physician and, according to His will, He may choose to heal and give recovery.
Now, Jesus not only healed those in need, in our Matthew text we also see that he preached and taught, verse 35-
…the gospel of the kingdom.
While physical healing often dominates our attention because pain is difficult to ignore, far more essential to our existence is our soul’s health and our eternal life with God. And the reason for this is obvious. This world is passing away. At best our span of years on this earth is limited to only a handful of decades. After all, our mortal bodies have an expiration date. If Jesus’ Second Coming doesn’t occur first, we will die. So for us, the wise course is to do what Jesus said- Matthew 6:33- (King James Version)
…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Over the course of my 36 year ministry, I’ve learned that few Christians have a clear idea of what the kingdom of heaven/ God really is. So in today’s reading, when our Lord Jesus puts the message out there, verse 7, that
The kingdom of heaven is at hand…
…few today understand what He is talking about. And this is really surprising when you consider that in our Lutheran Church, we pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday, and we petition God, in Matthew 6:10-
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
As Christians, we WANT the Lord’s kingdom to be present and active, controlling our world.
So this raises a couple of questions.
- What is the Kingdom of Heaven? And…
- What are we asking for when we want God’s heavenly will on earth, also?
The narrow definition of the Kingdom of Heaven is the “reign and rule of Christ in the hearts of believers.” (repeat) And when we pray “Thy Kingdom come,” we are pleading for God to establish Christ’s rule over our personal lives as well as over every facet and sector of our fallen world. In a real sense, we are asking for Jesus’ Second Coming and our eternal life in heaven. But until that great and joy-filled day happens, in the Lord’s Prayer we are essentially asking that God’s good and gracious will not only be done in heaven, but that we also want what God’s wants in our personal lives, and in our church, and throughout the entire world. In other words, we want sin and evil to stop, and we also pray that the things that please God would be willingly and joyfully done by all humanity.
For this to happen, we petition that God’s power and grace would break and hinder everything that opposes His will so that what our Lord wants will always be done among us. This means that we are praying for the Lord to frustrate and defeat the devil’s work in this world. Further, we pray that our Lord would strongly oppose the world’s rebellion and evil, and finally we ask our heavenly Father that He would give us His aid, in the Holy Spirit, to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) so that even our own sinful nature yields to the Lord’s will.
When we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we are praying for God’s rule and authority over everything. After all, since Jesus is our Savior, and since He paid for our sin on the cross and is now our risen King, and finally since He BRINGS the kingdom in Himself, we want Christ in charge. So, the reign and rule of Christ in the hearts of believers is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The final thing that our Gospel reading presents is that God uses His people to get the gospel of the Kingdom out to the world. While Jesus walked on this earth, He preached and taught the good news of the kingdom Himself. But the Lord also sent out His followers, the twelve disciples listed in our text, and today Christ also SENDS US, because the Savior knows that the harvest is plentiful, while the laborers are few.
So, to get the message out, the disciples were sent with the message, verse 7-
The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The Greek in this verse is a little abstract. The verse can mean:
- The kingdom of heaven is “near”
- Or, the kingdom is “in your midst”
- Or even the kingdom is “inside you”
Our Lord Jesus was reinforcing the truth that the kingdom, brought by Himself, and resulting in life and salvation, is internal and springs from faith and a relationship with the living God. This kingdom is marked by “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) And the kingdom is ours when we know by faith and love Jesus Christ. For Jesus brings the kingdom as He changes hearts… one at a time.
And this brings us to today. Our world is still fallen and in sinful rebellion to God. This world still needs the gospel of the kingdom in the same way it always has. We pray that God would send us out so that the world may find hope and life in Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ name.
+Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC- Prayers- Pentecost 2- 6/14/20
Dear heavenly Father, we rejoice in the Kingdom of Heaven which You have provided through faith in Your Son. Draw us to Christ so that in Him we may have righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And because this fallen world also needs Jesus, give us power and courage to be Your witnesses so that all may receive life through faith in Your Son.
Lord in Your mercy…………………. Hear our prayer.
God of all comfort, help us to remember that You desire the prayers of your people, and that You always promise to hear us and give assistance according to Your Word and will to all who look to you in faith. By your Holy Spirit’s power, give us the desire to approach Your throne of grace, that we may always rely on You in every time of need.
Lord in Your mercy/ …………………Hear our prayer……..
Blessed Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the global pandemic continues to impact our world, we pray that You would have mercy upon us as our trust is in You. Give strength and healing to all who look to You for help. Assist our health professionals to do all that is necessary to respond to this viral emergency. And help all Christians to be a blessing to their neighbor.
Lord in Your mercy, HEAR OUR PRAYER.
Finally, Heavenly Father, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, lonely, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…
Lord in Your mercy………………… hear our prayer…
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.