Kingdoms – Kingdom of God

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Luke 24:13-47 Reading excerpts from 13-15, 25-27, 31- 34, 36, 44-47

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.

25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

This is God’s Word.

 

So for the past month we have been talking about Worldview, how people view and understand the world.  And we have called this series Kingdoms because Worldview is so much more than just a set of ideas, it is a person’s beliefs that provides the foundation from which that person, lives and moves, and has his or her being. And what we have discovered in this series is that there are many of these Kingdoms that are very different from the Kingdom of God. We are all born into a Kingdom, there are Kingdoms all around us, and there is a Kingdom within us. And all of these Kingdoms are actually at war with the Kingdom of Christ, holding promises that will never fulfill, that will never satisfy, and that will never last.

So this week, our last week of the series, I want to talk about our Kingdom, the Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that has been moving since the beginning of time, but a Kingdom that was inaugurated, at the resurrection of Christ.

 And in this passage we actually learn a lot about this Kingdom and namely three things that I want to look at with you today. First of all the Foundation of the Kingdom – On what is this Kingdom built that makes it different than all of the other Kingdoms of the world. Secondly the Place of the Kingdom – Where is this Kingdom and How is it found? And then lastly the Mission of the Kingdom. 

So what about the foundation of the Kingdom? On what foundation does this Kingdom stand? And that’s actually what these two men are talking about on the road to Emmaus.  They were talking about the foundation of this Kingdom and it is actually something that all of us have to talk about at some point or the other, and that is the resurrected Jesus. You see if there was a man, that said he was God’s son, that said that he was going to be killed and then rise from the dead, and then he was killed and he did rise from the dead, you have to do something with that. 

The resurrection of Christ literally changed the world. It changed the world on the day of this walk to Emmaus and still changes the world today.  There were many people at the time of Christ that claimed to be the Jewish Messiah, and some of these movements were actually much more significant during the time of the movement, than the movement of Jesus was.

 Probably the most known of these was that of Simon Bar Kokhba, who led a revolt a Jewish Revolt against the Romans and he established a Jewish Kingdom in 132AD. They called him the Prince of Peace, because it was Bar Kokhba people believed who would bring peace on earth. And this Jewish Kingdom was so established that they even minted money, they even changed the calendar.  In fact some of this money still exists and on it they printed the year, so in the first year of this Kingdom of Bar Kokhba, they printed money that said – Year one, year two, year three… Because they were so convinced that the New Kingdom had come, that the new era had come, that the peace and freedom of Jerusalem. But then in 135 AD the Romans destroyed this new order, and they were actually able to scatter the people of Israel out and away from the land of Israel, and they wouldn’t return from 135 until the 1870’s.  And no one knows about Bar Kokhba, because the Romans took him and killed him, and he was never heard from again.

It’s what they tried to do with Jesus.

So here you have one ruler and leader, Bar Kokhba, who the powerful people, and the teachers of the law loved and followed, and people fought for him and he was able to establish himself as the King and ruler of the Jews. People believed him to be the King of the Jews, to be the Messiah.

And you have another leader and ruler who led and worked among a very small group of people for three yearsthat were not powerful at all. They were meek and poor and lowly, and the powerful people hated him and even wanted him killed.

But the first is forever forgotten and the second has forever changed the world. What’s the difference?  Well it is the resurrection. Jesus was heard from again. So you see if this is real, if this really happened then you have to do something with it.

 The resurrection that is the foundation of the Kingdom…

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14 – And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

 The resurrection is our foundation. And not only the foundation of the Kingdom, but it’s also the power of the Kingdom. Jesus defeated death, a man who was brutally murdered was raised from death to never die again. There is no greater victory and that is why Bar Kokhba was forgotten and Jesus is remembered. It is why the disciples can go out with such confidence after the resurrection.  They aren’t afraid of death. They rejoice in their suffering, they rejoice in persecution, it is why Rome can’t stop Paul. Through prison, and countless beatings, whippings, and floggings they can’t stop him because his foundation, his power is that Jesus was beaten, and whipped, and flogged and crucified, murdered. Jesus died and was buried and then three days later he rose from the dead.

 One of the oldest texts we have in church history is Ignatius’ Letter to the Romans, it was written probably around 110AD.  Ignatius was a great church leader from Antioch which was a city in what is now Turkey and he has been arrested for his Christianity and he is going to Rome. And he will probably be killed in Rome. But he writes the Christians in Rome and  he tells them not to stop the killing.  If he is condemned to die, he is condemned to die, and he believes that his suffering for Christ will bring Jesus great glory. That to be united with Christ in death would be his greatest experience. And before we all write Ignatius off as crazy, it was this kind of fearlessness that eventually broke the backs of the Romans and led Rome to become a Christian nation.  What separates Christianity from every other religion, where our power comes from, it comes from the hope of the resurrection, that just as Jesus died and was raised to inaugurate his eternal Kingdom, so shall we. So shall we be raised with him in eternal glory.

But its not a resurrection as something else. When the Christian is resurrected he doesn’t become a spirit, or something new, he is himself, just a better himself, just a more perfect himself.

If you notice in this story, and this is really true in all of the resurrection accounts.  It takes people a while to recognize Jesus. They all do, but at first Mary thought Jesus was the gardener on Easter morning. The disciples on the sea of Galilee in the John 21 account thought he was a ghost, and then these disciples had no idea who he was until later in the meal. And I think there is something to this. This is the resurrected Jesus, this is the more perfect Jesus.

I remember one time I met this girl at a party when I was probably 25 and I was talking to her, and literally about 30 minutes into the conversation she said, “Jason, you don’t remember me, do you?” No, I do I know you. And she said, “I am Juliana Kyle. We were in 3rd grade together.” And as soon as she said that, of course I remembered her we sat next to each other I tried to beat her in math all year. It was the same Juliana, it was just a more mature Juliana.

And that is part of the hope of the resurrection that God has in store for you a more perfect life a more mature life. And it is from that hope that we live and move and have our being. It is from this resurrection hope of Jesus that we build the very foundation of our lives.

We are called to a better Kingdom, a more eternal Kingdom, and not just a more perfect Kingdom, a perfect Kingdom, where Christ reigns, where he is our foundation. And if you find that, and if you really build your life there, there is an enormous amount of power in that.

That is why 800 of you came out on Friday night to help eradicate hunger. Because of that more perfect Kingdom that we believe in, that we hope for we want to see it now. Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done, Now.

In the eternal Kingdom of Christ there will be no hunger or pain, or sin, or heartache. And we the people of the Kingdom, we are called to manifest Christ and to bring that reality to earth now. And so when you feed the hungry, and when you take care of the prisoner, and when you care for the person lost in sin and pain, when you, through bible study and prayer, help release the captive from sin, you manifest the fact that there is a new and real Kingdom. You manifest the power of the resurrection.

 I just look at these missionaries. Why would you do this, why would you leave family, and home, and comfort to go and be a missionary in a place that hates you?  They believe in the power of the resurrection. Because if that is true, if Jesus really died and came back to life to never die again, if death is really dead, then this Kingdom is alive and real and everything changes. Then there finally is a Kingdom that fulfills, and satisfies, and lasts.

The Foundation of the Kingdom is the Resurrection. But what about the place of the Kingdom? Where did this Kingdom come from, how do we understand the Kingdom, and how do we find this Kingdom?

What we find in both of these men on the Emmaus Road is that they were looking for hope. They were looking for a Kingdom, they were looking for the redeemer, the Messiah.

Much like the Bar Kokhba revolt after Jesus about 200 years before Jesus there was another Messiah figure, Judah Macabee.  At this time the Greeks had taken over the land of Israel and the pagan rulers were making pagan sacrifices in the temple.  And so this Judah Macabee led a small resistance movement, and they marched into Jerusalem waving palm branches and they went and cleansed the temple… Does that sound familiar?

And everyone thought at the Macabeen revolt this is it, the Kingdom has come, the Messiah is here, but sure enough the temple became corrupt again, and then the Romans took over and the temple became even more corrupt, and the Jewish people weren’t ruling.

And so when Jesus came people thought well it didn’t work out with Judah Maccabee but this guy, I mean he does miracles. He multiplies food, he walks on water. I heard that one time there was a storm and he literally calmed the wind and the waves, he raised a dead man.  I’ve never even heard of anything like that, and so the people were thinking.  This is it, this guy is our answer, this is our guy.  He is finally going to rule over the Romans, he is finally going to bring peace to earth, he is finally going to Triumph and finally establish a pure Temple, a pure place of worship, and Jerusalem will finally be the city that rules the whole world, and he will be our King. He will be the Messiah.

But then just as things were really moving with Jesus, he was killed. And so we read in verse 21 that these two on the road to Emmaus had said, 21 We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. But right then Jesus explains to them, that it was actually this thing that they dreaded, that the Messiah would suffer and die that provided a gateway to this Kingdom.

25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus showed them that all of history, and all of the Bible, and all of creation was about him.  It is all about Jesus.

 As we said a few weeks ago, you have got to find this pattern.

From Jesus for Jesus… You want to be fulfilled, you want to be satisfied, then you have got to find your life in this.

From Jesus for Jesus…Your life is about Jesus, and you will be fulfilled, and you will be satisfied, and your joy will last when you find that.

I was talking to a missionary, Kevin, the other day about his call.  How does a guy get from Georgia, to Central Asia, where there is nothing familiar, there is nothing normal? And he just said, “Look my life is Christ’s. And I have one life to live and I have one light to shine, and I am going to shine it where it can have the most impact.”

You take a lighter and strike it in this room. Guess what, well this enhanced the light of the room somewhat, but not very much. But you take this same light and light it in a room that is totally black and guess what, everyone in the room will feel it. Everyone in the room will see it. Everyone in the room will be drawn to it.

 And he said, “My life is Christ’s and I just have one of these to shine, and so I am going to find the absolute darkest place I can and let it rip.”

See he has seen this, from Jesus for Jesus. And even though he is in one of the darkest places, I guarantee you there is a joy in him that is satisfying and lasting and so real.

And so Jesus met these men and he said to them, don’t you see this? And if you can’t see it in creation, and if you can’t see it in history, don’t you see it in the Bible?

 Don’t you see that in Genesis 3 when Adam sinned and God promised Eve an offspring that would be bruised by the serpent, but would then crush the serpents head, don’t you see that that was Jesus?

 Don’t you see that unlike Adam, Jesus never sinned, that Jesus passed the test, and then he was bruised by the serpent, only to three days later be raised back to life defeating sin and death once and for all and crushing the serpents head.

 And he went on to say, don’t you see that when Isaac was willing to be sacrificed by his Father Abraham in Genesis 22, don’t you realize that was pointing to Jesus? Because Jesus was willing to be sacrificed by his Father. And don’t you realize that Abraham, because he loved God so much, was willing to sacrifice Isaac the son of the promise? Don’t you realize that was pointing to God the Father who, because he loved us so much, was willing to sacrifice Jesus?

And he went on to say, Don’t you realize that just as Moses was willing to face the wrath and reproof of Pharaoh, the most powerful man on earth, in order to redeem his people, don’t you realize that Jesus was willing to face the wrath and reproof of the almighty and all powerful God, maker of heaven and earth, in order to redeem his people?

And don’t you realize that when the people of Israel killed a lamb and spread the blood on their doorpost so that death might pass over them, don’t you realize that Jesus was the perfect lamb of God, who was slain and whose blood covers all who believe in him?

Don’t you realize that when David defeated the great enemy, Goliath, he saved the Israelites from their great enemy, the Philistines, and he saved them from becoming slaves? Don’t you see that David was pointing to Jesus who has taken on our greatest enemy, the enemy of sin, and has defeated it once and for all on the cross and has saved all of his people from becoming an eternal slave to sin and death?

And he went on to say don’t you realize that when Esther was willing to risk being thrown out of the palace, and was even willing to risk her life to go to King Ahasuerus in order to save her own people, don’t you realize that Jesus was willing to leave his heavenly palace, and was willing to give his own life in order to save his people?

And on and on and on he went showing them how all of the Bible and how all of history, and how all of life pointed to Jesus. And as they listened their hearts burned, and they felt as though they were very near to the Kingdom that they had longed for their entire lives.

Now this whole time they didn’t know they were talking to Jesus about Jesus, but finally a little while later he revealed himself to them and then he vanished. And we read in verse 32

32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

And they saw the place of the Kingdom, they found the way to the Kingdom, and they realized they didn’t need a map, they didn’t need a political regime, they didn’t need an army, they didn’t need a law, they just needed Jesus.

 If you have seen him, you have seen the Father. If you have found him, you have found the Kingdom.

“How do we know the way to the place that you are preparing for us? How do we know the way to the Kingdom,” asked Thomas the disciple.

John 14:6-7

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” 

Which brings us to finally the Mission of this Kingdom. When these disciples realized that they had been with the resurrected Jesus, when they realized that they had been so close to the Kingdom of God, they got up right then and hiked 7 miles. This is the middle of the night, but they got up right then and went back to Jerusalem. And they found the disciples with this incredible news the foundation of the Kingdom. Jesus is alive all of the reports are true we have seen him and just as they were telling the disciples Jesus was there. And he does the same Bible study for all of them so they can all see the truth of the scripture they can all see how everything points to him.

Luke 24:45-49

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

And of course this power from on high is the power of the Holy Spirit that God has given as a gift to every believer. And so in this we see the heart of Christ, and we see the heart of the Father. The Father sent his son because he loves the Nations, because he loves all people and he so desperately wanted this good news of repentance of sins proclaimed to all nations. And this commission for the disciples is a great commission that has been at work from that time to this time, and by God’s grace this good news of repentance and forgiveness of sins has come to us, it has come to you.

 The Kingdom of God has come near to you. Do you believe? Have you been saved? Have you found Jesus? Because if you have, you are now a disciple, and if you are a disciple you have been sent, you have been given this Great Commission to go and to make disciples, to take this good news of salvation to the farthest and most difficult corners of the world. What we have to have happen in our church, what you and I so desperately need to happen in our lives is for The Great Commission to become Your Great Commission, and My great Commission.

If God were to come to you and say, I have a mission for you, what would you do, what would you say? Well the thing is, he has. You are sent… will you be obedient to go?

And as we said the other night, are you like Isaiah, one who has seen the glory of God, and been willing to say to the maker of heaven and earth-  Here I am send me? Do you, like Paul, believe that your life is Christ’s? And that your death in this life is only gain? Are you like the countless men and women through the centuries who were willing to bring the gospel to you, willing to leave their comforts, and to sacrifice their time and energy to be obedient to the Lord? Are you like them?

You are sent. God has sent us to Make disciples. If you believe in this resurrection if you have met the Risen Lord, he changes everything.

And so for the rest of our service we are going to be very practical. I want everyone to grab this commitment card. I don’t care if it is your first time here, could God have called you here today to do something in your life that will change you and change heaven and earth forever?

Someone asked me this week, what do you even do on a mission trip? Here is what a mission trip is. We are here for the church, we believe that God’s Kingdom will advance, and that people will come near to the Kingdom of God, through the church. So all of these missions partners represent churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of them represent a well established church, like the Bunch’s Harvest Baptist Church in Smithfield Virginia. It is a good, healthy, strong church, but they just don’t have a building, and so we are going to take 50 – 75 people up there and Lord willing we are going to build them a building.

Some of the churches haven’t even been planted, like Blake’s Church, Vertical Church in Kansas City. It is still in the vision stage, but we are going to go up there and love the community and serve community through sports camps and other outreach events, so when they launch on 9-14-14, they will have great favor in the community and we pray great success.

Some of the churches are in such a hard place, the ground is so hard that we have to get the pick out, and literally break the ground.  And so a lot of those mission trips require great faith. You are just walking around praying.

Right after I graduated from college myself and one other guy went to China for like 5 weeks and the IMB had identified this unreached, unengaged people group the Lolua. And so that was 2004 and they didn’t even know where most of these people were and so for month, me and this guy went walking through the Himalayan mountains looking for villages where these people might live and all we could do was walk and pray. And that was our little part in advancing the Gospel. But now in small part because of that and because of the work of other men and women, the results are small, but a church is growing among these people. They are coming to faithin Christ. Some missionaries then just needed me to go beat a hard soil and pray, But now God is working.

And you might be thinking, well I don’t know if I am called to go.  And let me just clear that up for you, you are. One of the goals we have for this church is that every member would go at least once every three years on mission for Christ.  Now you can go every year, you can go multiple times a year, but we want all of you to at least once every three years see how God is working outside of Valleydale, outside of Birmingham.

This is your family, these are your brothers, these are your sisters.  If you had a brother that you saw less than at least once every three years well then you would be a bad brother or sister. I think this is just a good spiritual discipline to be a part of the family of God. Get out there and work alongside your spiritual family.

So everyone right now, I want you to take out your card and just pray this prayer, “Father where are you sending me?” And I am going to give you a couple of minutes to hear from the Lord and to fill the card out. “Father where are you sending me?”

 Look and if you haven’t looked at finances, if you haven’t really looked at the calendar yet, look don’t worry about that right now. Those questions can come later. You are going to have to say no to something so that you can say yes to this, but don’t think about that right now. Just get real with God and ask him, Father where are you sending me?

 

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