St Luke (The Kingdom of God)

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St Luke - "The Kingdom of God"

Luke 10: 1-0

I speak in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Today we celebrate Saint Luke – the beloved physician!  

Luke wrote two books of the Bible: a Gospel and The Acts of the Apostles; and together they make up just over one-quarter of the New Testament.  Almost all that we know about Luke comes from the New Testament. We read that he was a physician and a companion of Paul on some of his missionary journeys.   

But to return to the Gospel reading this morning which we heard just now - there are two key phrases: The 72 are told by Jesus – just before they set out - to be sure to tell their listeners that: “The Kingdom of God is near” and a little further on we heard - as if to emphasise the point – “be sure - that the Kingdom of God is near”.  “The Kingdom of God is near”.  What did Jesus mean by the “Kingdom of God” and – what did he mean - that it was “near”?

 

“The Kingdom” is a dominant theme in the message of Jesus, but nowhere is there is no clear-cut formal definition of its nature. 

 

On a number of occasions Jesus used parables - pictures in words - to describe the “Kingdom of Heaven”.   He compared the “growth” of the kingdom to a mustard seed and to yeast – he compared the “value” of the kingdom - to hidden treasure and the merchant’s search for a pearl of great value.    But these descriptions don’t really give us a firm understanding of “what” God’s Kingdom is.  

 

As followers of Jesus the Christ – I believe we need to grasp what Jesus meant by “the Kingdom” - for if we don’t understand what it is – if we can’t see the “value” of his kingdom – and why should we – as individuals and a chuch community strive to be part of it – to live the kingdom?

 

But there are clues which can help us.

 

You will remember Jesus saying to Nicodemus – “I tell you the truth - no one can “see” the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  And clearly Jesus wasn’t talking about being physically being born again – but rather that “to be born again” is to enter into a vibrant and personal relationship with God – and by accepting the all enveloping love of Jesus the Christ into our lives – such a relationship leads to nothing less - than a completely new life - a completely transformed, a completely - forgiven life.   So this being born again into this new life – I would suggest is to enter – to become part of – to dwell in –  God’s Kingdom.    To dwell in God’s Kingdom - is to “abide – to be enveloped ” in God’s love.  

 

So “God’s Kingdom” is a kingdom of love – and this love is portrayed in the story of Jesus the Christ – handed down to us in the Gospels – his story – is THE story - the story of  “the kingdom” in action for Jesus “lived “ the kingdom and in his ministry made it clear that life in the kingdom was “normal” life – a lfe that is open to all humanity – where men and women are in a relationship to God as Son – the Abba- father relationship.

 

Jesus lived love - for God is love - and in his love - he made men and women – and he gave them the human capacity - to love.   True Love as lived by Jesus - was not the weak and sentimental thing that we often make it - it is robust, venturesome, utterly open to the varied complexity of human relationships.    If living in God’s kingdom - is truly living “in love” – loving God with all our heart, all our mind and all our strength - and loving our neighbours as ourselves – then it seems to me – that to live in the kingdom - is to gain a treasure beyond human value – but it is not without risk - total commitment to love and to follow Jesus the Christ is a risky business - as the young rich man found – it will be tough and frightening - that’s for sure – because to live “Christ-like” lives demands our whole life and being – but there is no fear in love – love drives out fear – there is nothing that love cannot face.

 

But the rewards of living in the kingdom are beyond value – and to support us we have - throughout our earthly pilgrimage – of the reality of God’s unconditional love – demonstrated at Calvary – his love for each of us - for you and for me

 

I want to finish by quoting from the Apostle John’s first letter – which – I turn to again and again – what he writes is so vitally important - because it leads us into God’s kingdom - here  - now - John writes:

 

Let us love one another – for love comes from God.  This is how God showed his love among us – he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him – This is love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us - and sent his Son to as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   If any one acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him – and he in God – in this way – love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement – because in this world - we are like him. 

 

Ponder the significance of these words when we say together the prayer of humble access during our communion service in a moment – we are inviting God to abide in us - so that we may abide in him – this is - if you will - the “yeast” that gives us life .

 

Jesus when asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come – he replied “the Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say; “here it is  - or there it is – because the kingdom of God is within you.”   How do you and I, as followers of Jesus - live and proclaim the Kingdom to the world. You know - the Church is not the kingdom – it is through the Holy Spirit indwelling in our lives - as men and women of the world – that proclaims the kingdom – and perceiving what God is up to in our all our activities and seeking to do it with - and for him – with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, goodness and self-control.

 

St Paul tells each of us - in these never to be forgotten words:

 “The life I now live is not my life, but the life - which Christ lives in me – who loved me and gave his life for me”.

 

And in a final exhortation:

 

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

 

This is to live in the Kingdom!

Peter Hewlett-Smith, Heckfield, 18 October 2015