June 26, 2016
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
What’s the “kingdom of God” all about? It’s an important question. You hear about “the kingdom of God” all the time in the New Testament, especially from Jesus. In fact, there’s “kingdom of God” talk at the tail end of our Gospel reading today. The “kingdom of God” has to do with a journey: Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, and us following where He goes. In and through Jesus, we’re brought into this journey, this “kingdom journey.” It’s a very important journey, it’s an important kingdom, and there are all sorts of false ideas about this kingdom and its journey floating around out there. Whatever has to do with Jesus is of the utmost importance; our very salvation’s at stake! Our trust in Jesus is at stake! That’s what we consider today.
((2. False views of this journey.))
We’re on a journey as Christians. Now, what’s this journey all about? Well, it’s not about building some sort of Kingdom of God on earth. There’s no reason to take over the government, or even a need to have a Christian government. There’s no establishing God’s reign on the earth. As Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” The journey isn’t all up to you either. Not in a “establishing God’s kingdom now” sort of way, and certainly not in this way: Jesus established His kingdom, brought you into it, and now it’s your turn. You need to keep yourself in the Kingdom. But there’s no: Jesus made the start, now do your part. There’s no: Do your best, God will do the rest. That’s not Jesus’ kingdom at all. And finally, Jesus’ kingdom, the Kingdom of God, the Christian Life isn’t about having enough faith so you can get what you want, so your wildest dreams can come true. There’s no trying to align your dreams with God’s will to get where you want to go. All of those ways are worldly kingdoms, a worldly journey: worldly power, worldly self-improvement, worldly wealth and success. That’s not Jesus’ Kingdom, nor the journey He lays out in our Gospel text.
((1. Jesus’ view of this journey.))
So, what’s Jesus think about this journey. Well, it’s all about trust in Him, looking to Him for every need, in every circumstance, in times of blessing, and in times of need. To have faith is to “fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” To not worry about where you’ll lay your head, or whether you’re there for a loved-one’s funeral, or whether you can have a farewell party. Jesus comes before all that. Why? Because Jesus’ journey is about His death. “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” He’s going to Jerusalem to be lifted up on the cross, to establish His kingdom upon that throne, to save it by His death. There in Jerusalem, He had no place to lay His head, but He had to be buried and lay His head in another’s tomb. But then the tomb was emptied—He rose! He was then taken up into glory. That’s Jesus’ journey through cross and empty grave. It’s about death—His…AND YOURS! Dying to yourself. Dying to your sins. Being raised on the Last Day. That’s Jesus’ true Kingdom Journey. How does it happen? Well, the Spirit placed you into Jesus’ death and resurrection in the waters of Holy Baptism. How’s this kingdom extended? Through the Word. That’s where faith is strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirt. The Spirit strengthens you in body and soul in preparation for “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” as you eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins in the Supper.
The Christian life, the Christian journey is all about Jesus—Jesus FOR YOU. He “set His face TO GO to Jerusalem.” Now, Jesus was on an almost non-stop journey to Calvary. We follow Him. That’s our journey as Christians. Following Jesus as our life wends its way to a casket and grave. There all political aspirations cease, no amount of self-improvement can prevent it, no amount of wealth and success can follow you through it. But we trust Jesus. We follow Him. He didn’t just land Himself in a tomb—stone, cold dead. He rose! We too shall rise from the dead. We’ve already risen in Jesus: Baptism brought us into His death and resurrection. Now death is a nap. A nap Jesus will awaken your body from on the Last Day. His body and blood are the seal and promise that He will do it.
JESUS LEADS US THROUGH CROSS AND EMPTY GRAVE.
That’s what Jesus’ Kingdom is all about. That’s the message that’s proclaimed: that Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem where He died and rose FOR YOU. Now, in Him you’ve died and risen so that when you die, He will raise your body up from death. We follow Jesus where He has gone, and so we’ll be where He is. There’s no other journey in all the world that ends as well as that.
INI + AMEN.