Sermon Notes + Quotes:
I love it when Jim and Kim go out of town and I come up on the rotation with the gift of being with many of you. Some of you I’ve known in the little over four decades that Darlene and I have been living in this great city. And I’m not as envious as I could be for Jim and Kim being in port Stewart, Northern Ireland, because that’s where Darlene and I were in the middle part of May for two weeks celebrating our 50th anniversary. So, that’s the best news there. And that’s one of the demonstrations that the gospel’s indeed good, true, and beautiful. 50 years of sharing this relationship with Darlene. Well, the relationship of grace, as you’ve been discovering in Matthew’s gospel, is far-reaching. In fact, you’ve already been discovering that no one and no thing is beyond the need of God’s grace, and no one and nothing is beyond the reach of God’s grace.
Matthew is the most Jewish of all four gospel tellers. And he has a very intentional way of approaching his gospel. He is highlighting, for a mostly Jewish audience, what they have been taught all their lives: the coming of the kingdom of God, the fact that God is creator and redeemer, that Torah, God’s revelation, is a gift to us to be honored, that there’s a great promise. There’s a messianic hope that at some point God would send the Messiah into the world. You’ve already been working through a lot of that understanding as Jim and Matt and others have been preaching. Well, today we’re going to pick up where you left off last week with the last two verses from Matthew chapter nine. Then we’ll move into my section, Matthew 10:1-23. But I want to read these two verses as we transition into today’s study and reflection.
If you were here last week, here are the last two verses of Jim’s text. And they’re very important. Jesus has been teaching the disciples and others around him, and he concludes with these words in [chapter 9] verse 37, “Then he, Jesus, said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest.’” Now Jim wisely finished that part of his sermon with this incredible quote from Christopher Wright, great British biblical theologian that I want to read again. Christopher Wright said this, and this is just a tremendous way of thinking about the words that chapter nine finished with. He wrote:
“It’s not so much that God has a mission for his church, but that God has a church for his mission in the world. The church was not made for mission. Mission was made for the church, God’s mission.”– CHRISTOPHER J.H. WRIGHT, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative
I want to read that once again. “It’s not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world, but that God has a church for his mission in the world. The church was not made for mission. Mission was made for the church, God’s mission.” Now you heard that earlier in life from Jake and Elwood, when they said, “We’re on a mission from God.” And some of you are not old enough to remember the Blues Brothers and that’s quite alright. But you know what? Prepositions matter. When the church lives as though we have a mission for God, nothing really good comes out of that. But when the church understands, we are on God’s mission, we have been called into something that God takes responsibility for, that’s what J Christopher Wright is saying. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, there’s nothing wrong with the harvest.
God has secured an eternally glorious outcome for all of history. The God of the Bible is not trying to do something. He generously, sovereignly, mercifully, is involved in what we’ll see in Matthew 10 today. Giving us the one true king in Jesus and beginning to unfold his irrepressible kingdom. Now, when you hear the word irrepressible, here’s what I want you to think about. Not something defiant, not something edgy, not something simply conquering and taking over. Think of a slow movement. Think of something sure and steady that is underway that will not be delayed and cannot be defeated. This is the kingdom of our God. This is the King of his kingdom. Would you pray with me?
“Lord Jesus, thank you that the gospel comes to us, so that it might run through us. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that as the King of creation and new creation, you have come to do the unimaginable. You have lived in our place, a life of perfect obedience, fulfilling the law for us. You have died in our place to make us your very bride. And thank you, Lord Jesus, as we will see in this scripture today, you truly choose and call an unlikely people to steward your mission and to be given your inheritance. Hallelujah what a Savior, hallelujah what a salvation. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, would You open this text to us and open these our hearts to a way of thinking and seeing and dreaming and understanding the good news of the gospel of the kingdom. We pray this in humility. We pray it out of need. We pray it for such a time as this, in the name of Jesus and for His glory. Amen.”
Well, we pick up now in Matthew 10:1. And my text has sufficient verses. I’m simply going to work through the three blocks under these headings. First of all, we’re going to look as Jesus calls the 12. Then Jesus commissions the 12, and then Jesus gives the 12 an honest perspective and profound hope. So, beginning now at verse one, we see Jesus doing a lot more than simply inviting. Here are the word of God for the people of God. And he, Jesus called to him, his 12 disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits to cast them out and to heal every disease and every affliction. Stop there for a moment. I pray what you will experience going through this text today is that Jesus is not nervous. Jesus is not in the posture of possibilities and probabilities. He truly is a wise caring king who knows exactly what he is doing all the time. Even as the incarnate son of God, he is receiving from his father day by day, season by season exactly what the unfolding story required.
And this incredibly bodacious phrase, he Jesus, an ordinary rabbi as he’s emerging in the community, he gave 12 disciples he called authority. You can’t give what you don’t have. And I want us to be deeply encouraged and humbled at how early on, even in the unfolding of the story, that this king truly trusts a very unlikely bunch with this incredible unfolding story. Now, who are they? Beginning at verse two, we’re going to be introduced by name to the 12 original disciples. And we know them as apostles and the apostolic calling was very unique; there was profound way in which these 12 served the purpose of the entire bride of Christ and the people of God. But they also represent us. Because in time, these 12 would give us not only the word of God, they would be called in God’s story to see that the church would be equipped for a life of ministry.
So, here in their story is some similarities to ours. So, he calls them well, who are they? We’re going to notice, and this was the gift of me being invited to pick up where Jim left off. I love when a church does not say to me, give us your favorite sermon. Just pull one out of the file. That’s too easy. Always, when I am trusted to jump into a current series, I know the Lord’s going to stretch my heart. He’s going to show me things I haven’t seen before, or as a 72 year old guy, I’ve already forgotten. So, I appreciate the prayer today, Matt, that I would remember, or actually, it was Cora, I would remember. So, in remembering with you now, look at these people and take heart in who he chose.
The names of the 12 apostles are these: first, Simon who was called Peter. In every list in the gospels, when the disciples are mentioned, they always start with Peter. And are we not glad? He was the weakest. He was the one, most like us that had those moments of frailty – those moments in which the Lord met him in his weakness. Peter is at the head of the list, grace-needy, just like we are grace-needy, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, Phillip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew. Now, Matthew in the other gospels is called Levi, same person, but there’s something about in the gospel of Matthew that uniquely is going to use, of course, a familiar name – very important – Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector. Now, as we go through the list, there are only two individuals of the 12 that are kind of identified by the vocation. Does that matter? Absolutely, as we’ll see in a minute.
Matthew the tax collector, James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot – here’s the second of the 12 that are actually qualified by something very unique – we’ll come back to that – and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. Now, I want to say only this about that. That’s not an “oops –moment” in Jesus’ story. If there’s not room within our understanding of God in his Word for mystery, then it’s really not a king we want as much as a masseuse to manipulate for our own reasonableness. Judas did betray. And again, part of this sermon has nothing to do with ultimately resolving everything that meant. But I do want to highlight these two names. Why a zealot and why a tax collector? And what was Jesus thinking when he included these two guys, their persona, their calling, in this very important band?
Well, a tax collector that may sound harmless to some of us that are unfamiliar with the biblical story of life in Rome. But a Jewish tax collector would be something akin our culture to somewhat of a liberal that wants to play both sides of the realm. Someone that wants to fit comfortably in the culture, a lot of times just to line their own pockets. You see, if you were a Jewish tax collector meant you worked for Rome. But in the culture of tax collecting, it would most often look like this. You were assigned to people, a group, to go and regularly collect. If you got more than that, then it was kind of a wink-wink, blink-blink understanding. You get to keep it for yourself. So, the very fact that Jesus would choose someone like this, who immediately, in a group of people that come from a life shape by the Torah says, “Jesus, there’s an intentionality there.” This again, would be someone that, or a personality that you might be familiar with. Whether it’s culturally, politically, religiously, there’s just something about how they do that that’s about them. Simon the Zealot, was a zealot, kind of the opposite end of the spectrum.
See Jews typically despise tax collectors for everything it has mentioned. But what about a zealot? A zealot was the closest thing in Israel to what we would call a nationalist. Meaning this, that if you were a Jewish zealot, you basically believed, you read the Torah in this way. It’s all about my nation, Israel. It’s all about to us and for us. And a zealot had no heart for other nations. And so, this would be indicative of someone, whether it’s a Swiss person that thinks the greatest country in the universe is Switzerland, leave us alone, we simply want to have it our way or whether it’s our country. I mean, nationalism was just a phenomenon of kind of confusing the kingdom of God with my national identity. So, just let that sit in your heart for a minute. The other 10 would not be overly excited to have a tax collector and a zealot. You get that?
Have you ever thought, this church would be great if it just weren’t for them? And we certainly inhabit, do we not right now, very much a culture of us versus them? And that circle of comparison, contrast, and venom, gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So, I want to come to the women’s Bible study on what to do when everybody’s fighting. That sounds kind of intriguing. So, let’s proceed with the story. Who are the 12? They’re not those that submitted resumes and curriculum vitaes. And Jesus went through the whole thing and came up with the most likely to succeed list. He’s got broken people. He’s got people shaped by ideology, worldview, political sensibilities, theological understanding. Every single one of them begin in this apostolic story as neophytes and the true ways and means of grace. That should encourage us. Well, the calling obviously, so much more than invitation. In fact, if you read in Matthew’s gospel, how Matthew got called, do you remember what it was like?
So Jesus is walking along and all of a sudden, he looks through tax collectors says, come follow me. Well, we don’t have a recording of any kind of apologetic for that or defense or Jesus pausing at the booth and saying, yada, yada, yada. No, it’s follow me. You see, this king speaks words that are more than invitation. They’re subpoena like. That’s why this king could stand outside the death of Lazarus and say, come forth. It’s why we sit here today with the knowledge of God’s grace, because this king calls, he doesn’t just offer. Oh, it’s a real offer, but it’s more than that. So, notice with me how this plays out. Verse five, Jesus commissions, the 12.
So it’s these who are walking with him have already seen various demonstrations. They have heard teaching. They’re beginning to try to figure it out. They’re already squabbling. They’re going to squabble up until the very day Jesus goes to the cross. But here’s what he gives him to do. I love this verse five, these 12 Jesus sent out, instructing them. Now, pause there for a moment. Have you ever been in a church situation before, and I’m not asking you to think about something you want to critique or criticize, but sometimes in churches there’s called the “readingof the scripture” and then the preacher gets up and preaches, right? And sometimes people read so flat line, not looking for any possible emphasis. You know what I mean? So, just kind of reading it, we read it, now let’s preach it. The reading of the word of God is important. That’s why now, after what I just said to you about this zealot, about Peter, and about this tax collector, here’s the way I read these opening words.
These 12 Jesus sent out. It’s like these 12. Can you believe it? These, who Jesus hand picks, truly he sends them out. He’s got the authority. He’s got the love. He knows the betrayals that are coming. And what is his commission? He sent them out, instructing them, go nowhere among the gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and proclaim as you go saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now, this commission is important. And readily you notice there’s a prohibition and there’s a clear directive. So, who, but the king could obviously give such a decree? Here’s where I want you to go and proclaim this emerging news of the kingdom of heaven. And by the way, there’s a big difference between the call to proclaim and the call to be a self-appointed prosecuting attorney. A proclaimer stewards a message, a declaration, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, “This person, Jesus, is the promised one.”
Big difference between the two, but why start with the lost sheep of Israel? Why prohibition about gentiles and Samaritans? Is there racism involved here? Is there sectarianism? Absolutely not. You see, from Genesis to Revelation, we see an unfolding story that includes in time, God having a family from every single nation and language that has ever sucked oxygen. But because it’s an unfolding story that we inherit and steward together, there is a teleology, there’s a movement, a trajectory. And who are the lost sheep of Israel? Most biblical scholars suggest two things are involved with the disciples going to the lost sheep of Israel. Number one, it’s saying that just because you have a passport in Israel, that doesn’t mean you have a saving relationship with the living God.
Part of my story, growing up in North Carolina, I mean, I went to church long before I ever went to Christ. And there’s a real contrast between simply taking on the accoutrements, the language, the external aspects of some system of faith, of religion and really having the connection, especially the connection that God designed for us. So, there is love. There is the announcement of the arrival with Jesus, with the beginning of the kingdom of heaven with an anticipation of its fullness in time. So, lost sheep of Israel would be even Pharisees, even tax collectors and others that think they know Jesus, and do not. Remember the story in John three of Nicodemus. Remember the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish council that needed to come to know God’s grace and not just God’s law.
Zacchaeus is up in a tree. He’s an example of a tax collector. Come down. Salvation iscometo your house today. So, this is beautiful. But now in time, even in this text, you’re going to see the Gentiles are always included, Samaritans and truly in the stories that unfolds. Who, but a king can commission. This king, Jesus. But what about this proclamation verse seven? Here’s what you or to proclaim saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Now from anybody, from a Jewish background, here’s what they would’ve been thinking of. They would’ve think broadly about the fact that God is a king and that he should be honored by his creatures and creation. But more importantly, the prophets within Israel’s story, they spoke of a messianic kingdom. Of how God not turning his back on brokenness and rebellion and acting out in horrible ways by all of his image bearers. How God would take onto himself a story of new creation that is rooted in original creation.
And so the kingdom of heaven is the same thing as the kingdom of God. It’s just the domain, the reign of grace upon earth. We prayed earlier in this service, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Kingdom of heaven is not ethereal. Hallelujah, when we pass into eternity, you’re not going to be given a harp and a pair of wings. That’s nothing against harp players in the room, please. But all of life comes under the domain of this king now. And the future of the kingdom looks far more like Eden than it does simply a gigantic coliseum-filled hymn sing, the kingdom of heaven, proclaim it. That would be intriguing and it was. And you know, and we’ll see in this text, it creates pushback. If you’re someone saying this rabbi, his understanding that we have not received before, all kinds of conflicts will emerge as we will notice.
But again, let’s stay with the commissioning. Proclaimed, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. What does that look like? And what’s the nature of God’s reign on earth now through the resurrection of Jesus in part, but in fullness, when he comes back? Elements of this kingdom, this realm. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Those aren’t just four throw away phrases. They all speak to some overlapping aspects of the brokenness of life. This kingdom of heaven involves healing the sick, healing in scriptures, both spiritual and physical. See the good news of the Bible is not just preparing us to die. Just pray the sinner’s prayer. Just make sure you’ve got the assurance of your salvation before you die. That’s not a bad thing, friends, don’t get me wrong. But healing is spiritual and it’s physical. It’s why a lot of Jesus’s ministry was physical.
We are promised a resurrected glorified body. The very body we live in as image bearers of God he will be made new. Heal the sick, raise the dead. When kind of king can say to a bunch of knuckleheads like this bunch, you are going to be fighting each other, raise the dead? Only He who has authority over life and death. He who came to destroy death itself. In all of its forms, not just the cessation of human life. Cleanse lepers. Well, leprosy was not just a horrible disease. It impacted an entire culture and society. If you were a leper, you’re cut off from your family, your faith system. You’re cut off from everybody. I mean, here’s a picture of the ultimate disintegration of life through something like leprosy. Cast out demons. The power to say there is a defeat coming, and there is an eradication and fullness coming of all evil. What Jesus says to these 12, they really don’t fully understand what he means. But they go because they see him.
And as they go, he says, “You received without paying, give without pay.” And this is a part of the commission. And it’s a part of what it means for us to live now in a broader understanding the life of grace as we have received, so we give. See, one of the greatest things about a healthy church is that stewardship of our brokenness and stories. Here’s how the Lord met me when. Here’s how I moved from legalism into understanding. Jesus is not my second chance, he’s my righteousness. See, we freely receive and we freely give, however, the Lord meets us. That’s why the apostle Paul talked about in second Corinthians one, where God has been merciful to us, we are called to be merciful with others. And mercy in scripture is both the absence or the exhausting of judgment and the presence of care. It’s radical when a church lives in this fashion.
Freely receive, freely give. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts. Now, that’s an image of as you go, don’t overfill your backpack with denarii so you’re afraid of running out of money. And it also means don’t just look to people to be your support group in any way, putting you out of the room of depending upon the one that gives you daily bread. See, it’s a beautiful picture of the irrepressible advancing of a people who are more in relationship with the king than having secured guarantees about how we’re going to do this thing…such as the kingdom of heaven. Acquire no gold or silver for your belts. And that also means when you go, don’t just kind of milk the generosity of soft touches ,to kind of think, this is the new way a tax collector would get more.
Nope, you go no. The bag for your journey are two tunics or sandals or a staff for the labor deserves his food. God’s going to provide for his people as they go. Now, verse 11 moves us into a unique picture of what it means for not only the 12. But for us to be thinking in terms of what does life and the kingdom look like for us; how will we relate to this? Well, we’ll look at verse 11. In whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.
Truly I say to you, it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Now, what in the world is going on there? I’m so glad we get to ask that together. And listen, this picture, of the disciples going out is rooted in the biblical world of God as the hospitable one. Andy, your book still on hospitality reflects this. I mean, really this is the story of the art house here. God is the hospitable one and he calls us to go into his world, seeing his provision for us. And where there is welcome enjoy it. Thank God for the blessing of being welcomed. And he is saying tothe disciples live there, love there, stay there. But this is Jesus and he’s going to build usup a little bit.
He’s going to say, now look not everywhere you go is going to welcome you. And when you experience opposition, when you experience the opposite of welcome, number one, don’t let it shock you. And don’t take names and start tweeting about it. Because really understand, it is me they are rejecting, not you. Now why mention Sodom and Gomorrah? Because some of us, when we hear those two names, we automatically think, oh, here’s what that’s about. But let’s let the Bible answer its own question. Why, as we go, as we are the church living in communities where we will receive welcome and extend welcome. And we will receive opposition and we will steward that. Well, why Sodom and Gomorrah? Well, listen to Ezekiel 16:49 which answers this question. Here’s God himself speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, “Now, this was the sin of your sister Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned. They did not help the poor and needy.” And whatever else you’ve ever thought about with the Bible talks about Sodom and Gomorrah, I’m not challenging that. I’m just saying – hear this – the offense of being inhospitable. The offense that happens when a church becomes an in-grown “us versus them” community, it contradicts the welcoming heart of God. And it’s why this is so important. I mean, there are three words: arrogant, overfed, unconcerned. They did not help the poor and needy. That becomes clearer as the story of Jesus unfolds and the mission we share together. That’s why I was so thankful this morning, listening to the different mission aspects of TVC. I mean, holistic view of here’s why we do this, that and the other, we’re not being do-gooders. Jesus cares about brokenness, and loss, and reversals, and children going to camp, and loving families in crisis, and being good neighbors. Being a place where the aroma of grace and mercy is emitted not a bunch of people that are overreacting or over controlling.
Now, Jesus continues thirdly and lastly, along with Jesus, calling a lot more authority than an invite, commissioning credible. What a pressure is off he’s in essence, saying on the front end, before they could have categories for it, guys, this is my mission. And you’re a character in it and your carrier of it. Don’t confuse you with doing it for me. It’s I in your midst. This makes sense as we conclude. Look at verse 16, this text finishes with Jesus, giving the 12 both an honest perspective and profound hope. Jesus is going to now say to his disciples, the apostles, and believers of every generation. These words relate. Look at verse 16. Where’s the honest perspective we need about living out our calling of being a people’s shape by the word of God, for the glory of God, through the grace of God in Jesus?
Here’s what it’s going to mean for us. Behold, I’m sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. So, be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. There’s a preparing us to understand as we go into God’s world, it should not shock us, when there are these sovereign gifts of healings and movements of the spirit. Only in the fullness of the kingdom will that be the eternal norm, but the kingdom is come. But as the kingdom comes, there’s disruption, there’s opposition. Let’s be aware and let’s not become self-righteous sheep in the midst of wolves. Verse 17, “Beware of men for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues.” So, Jesus is saying to the disciples, listen, here are two realms in which you can expect opposition.
The courts are the secular world. The synagogues are the world of the religious. And so he’s not frightening his men. In fact, as you could see in a moment, he’s giving them profound hope. Dear, dear, dear friends, our labors in the Lord are never in vain. Come back to that, but consider what I mean by these words. So, he’s really saying… and there’ve been more Christian martyrs in the last century than the previous 19 centuries, by the way. Just need to know this is an exaggeration. But persecution opposition comes in different ways. Let’s just be prepared and be humble, not something else. But where it meant for the delivery of the courts, and flog you in their synagogues. You’ll be dragged before governors and kings. Next three words are critical. You’ll be dragged before governors and kings for my sake. See, when the church loses that sense of. This is something that’s so critical to what it means to know the redemptive transforming kingdom of Jesus, the king who’s unlike any other.
It will be for him that these things happen and not as a throwaway, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. See, Jesus is preparing for an unfolding. In fact, if you know the book of Acts in the New Testament, it’s incredible. Same story emerges when Jesus, after he is raised from the dead and is ascending to the Father, promise of the Holy Spirit soon to follow. What does He say to not just these 12, but his church of every generation? Beginning in Jerusalem, Judea Samaria, the outermost parts of the earth. When we sing the hymn, “This Is Our Father’s World,” we’re not exaggerating. When we sing, when we understand the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus claim every sphere of life. We begin to live with humility. We begin to inhabit a week like this upcoming week where sensibilities, thoughts, feelings, by both people that call America home, but also who share our faith, but see decisions so differently.
We’re going to be in a position to think in terms of how do I steward ways of seeing things differently. Will the church in the next generation become those that are more inclined to say, it’s getting worse than ever? Where can I hide? Who can I fight? Or will we like Jesus is calling us to in every generation to say, the world is very, very difficult and broken. Where can I serve? Who can I love? Do you see the difference between the two? We’re not called to be in-grown. We’re not called to be either Simon the Zealot, confusing God’s kingdom with any earthly political entity. We’re not to be tax collectors, just working it. We can make this good in pragmatically thinking, yeah, I can do the tax collector thing and get more money and give it to missions.
There’s just so many ways we can take the Bible and narrate it rather than have it narrate us. Well, we finish with this. Again, I want you to get this taste of profound hope before we pray, okay? Honest perspective of life in this kingdom, verse 19, “ When they deliver you over, do not be anxious for how you are to speak or what you are to say. For what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the spirit of your father speaking through you.”
Something unique about the way of course, God gave the spirit and voice for those that would be entrusted with finishing the New Testament scriptures as we know them. But dear friends, this is a promise to all of us whatever the circumstance. Should some of us simply, because we know Jesus and love him, should we be facing extreme opposition?
Jesus’ word to us is not buck up, but you can trust me. It’s the Father and His Spirit that’ll be speaking through you. Now, let me make this very real for some of you. Some of you are here today because you were on the hearing end of the voice of the Father’s spirit, speaking to you through a friend. And you know what? They may have showed up in your life in story at a time where you thought there’s no way there can be a God, or two, that God could love me. And it wasn’t through a gigantic kind of angelic visitation. It was a friend that simply said kind of like the woman at the well, “Come see the One that told me everything I ever did. Is this not the Messiah?”
The spirit of the Father lives in you. If you’re a Christian, He lives in you. You don’t have to be afraid. In fact, we should all be not so much praying for less fear, but praying for more love whatever the environment. It can get very difficult. Brother will deliver, brother over to death, the father, his child. Children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all men for my names’ sake. There are extreme times when the kingdom of darkness shows up in extreme ways. But sometimes the most subtle ways just lull us into our own mediocrity. And we need to know, as Jesus said, He is with us and we are on His mission and he is right in the middle of it. Here’s the final word of hope. I love this.
It’s for my namesake, that you will experience some of this opposition at times. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. In my youthful, non-gospel understanding days, I thought two things. One, this is the verse that teaches, I can lose my salvation. Or number two, I can earn my way into eternity if I just keep doing it right. In the context, that is not at all what’s going on here. In a very specific and broad sense, this is a way of reminding us. Endurance first of all, is a gift. We enter into the endurance of Jesus himself. He is the overcomer. We overcome in and through Him. But you see here, Jesus did not all of a sudden start to make an individual person the issue as though Christianity is a privatized story if you just keep trying to save yourself.
No, it’s look, everything I call you to do, endurance brings salvation to bear, stay present. Why do we stay present? Last verse(23), “ When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. For truly I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the son of man comes.” See, here’s literally the pastor’s not lying. He is winding it down. What is that last verse? And why is that profound hope? See, hope runs throughout the whole scripture, not hype. We don’t need to be fired up here every week. Just get out there. Just really do it for Jesus one more time. Or just really this week, love those people that are super, super angry at Christians right now. We proclaim a kingdom that’s been proclaimed to our heart that in Jesus, all the promises of the kingdom of restoration, and forgiveness, and mercy, and renewal, have been brought to bear.
And the son of man is coming again. Now, what does that mean? In the book of Daniel, the messianic figure, the one who has supremacy over all evil kingdoms, the one who alone is sufficient to enable a Daniel, a Meshach, a Shadrach, and Abednego, to live and love in the midst of even studying Chaldean and the Babylonian arts, friends, Babylon is God’s Babylon. And we’re not holding on. And the church is not Fort God. When Jesus says to disciples, I tell you this, here’s the good news. As you go, as it’s hard, you’re not going to go through every city of Israel before the son of man comes. That means two things. Number one, they’re going to see the coming of the son of man in his resurrection. They’re going to live to see that first installment of the coming of the son of man through the resurrection, through Jesus’ defeat of death, through his fulfillment of the law, through the temple curtain being torn from the top to bottom. Because he is the Messiah and the son of man will come again, in the perfect day, to finish making all things new.
Precious brothers and sisters, we don’t need spin. We definitely don’t need to live hostage to fear. We need to know this king is in our midst. He was raised for our justification. He’s the ruler of the kings of the earth. He calls us to live and to love to his glory. He is right now, making all things new. He will finish making all things new. It is not easy, but it is eternally and gloriously good! Hallelujah what a Savior! Hallelujah with a salvation! Would you pray with me?
“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank you for Your word. Oh Lord, thank You that we don’t take verses and put our meaning. And we’re always in the position of learning. Seeing more clearly, Lord Jesus, as we discover You to be the only hero in the entire story. Thank You, Lord Jesus, that the kingdom of heaven has come in part and equipped us to live in the already and not yet. Help us to live with the good news that already the devil and evil have been defeated, but not eradicated. Help us to live with this good news that the promise of restoration and renewal, it has come gloriously in part. We are right now as loved by God the Father, as we ever will be because of Your work, Jesus, help us. Help Ukrainian brothers and sisters. Help those spread throughout the world who are living. Lord Jesus, as first fruits of your kingdom, we thank You, we praise You, we bless You, we trust You in Your name. Amen.”