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Entries in Provision (4)

Tuesday
Mar012016

Living by Faith

Luke 22:35-38.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on February 21, 2016.

Throughout the history of the Church the idea of “living by faith” has taken on several different forms.  For some it became the idea that we should never prepare for or save up for anything.  They attempt to obtain a radical trust in Jesus and His provision alone.  The opposite view sees it as only affecting the spiritual issue of salvation.  Thus they trust Jesus to save their souls, and yet do not look for any “provision” from God in their life.  I believe that the truth lies in between these two extremes.  We should trust God for both spiritual and material needs.  However, we also work hard, save up, and prepare for the inevitabilities that lie ahead.  As we look at today’s passage, we will get a better feel for this area.

The Sending Out Of The Twelve

In Luke 9 Jesus had sent the 12 into the towns and cities of Israel.  He had given them authority to heal diseases and cast out demons, while proclaiming the kingdom of God.

Part of the reasoning for this is that they would prepare the people to hear Jesus later.  In a sense they were pre-evangelizing the area.  There are different aspects to sharing the Gospel with people.  Sometimes it is brand new to them and can be symbolized by casting a seed into their minds and hearts.  Sometimes they have run into this before and our interaction with them can be symbolized by watering seed that already exists.  Lastly, we may come into the life of a person who has had seed planted and watered.  Their seeds have grown to the point of maturity and can now be harvested.  We should always bear in mind these ideas when we are sharing the Gospel.  We intersect with a life that is in motion and has a past.  However God chooses to use us, we must give our all without being discouraged by what we do or don’t see.  Be faithful.  The work is greater than any one attempt to evangelize.

Of course, it was also an opportunity to strengthen the faith of the disciples and to prepare them for their future.  Jesus told them to take no money, provisions, or extra clothes.  They were to depend solely upon what was provided by those who accepted them.  Of course God is ultimately the supply in all of our lives, but we are not usually commanded to do what Jesus told them to do.  This was clearly a part of their training and yet was also beneficial to the ministry.  After reminding them of their previous ministry He asks them if they lacked anything.  Their answer to the Lord is an emphatic, “We lacked nothing, Lord.”  It is important to recognize that we serve a God who is able to provide and, when He does, He often does so through people.

They Had Entered A Turning-Point

This time, Jesus is going to give them a command that is different than before, and it hinges on the phrase, “But now…”  The circumstances are going to be very different in the future than they were.  Before Jesus was a novelty that many people were interested in, and his disciples shared in that popularity.  Also they were only going to the cities of Israel.  Everyone there understood the Bible and God to some degree.  In a sense it was a best case scenario for ministry.  In the future they are not going to be in places that would be relatively easy.

In fact, the biggest issue ahead is that Jesus will no longer be with them physically.  He says, “The things concerning me have an end.”  That is there is a purpose in mind and it is that He must die on the cross.  It was not the Father’s will to continue things as they were before, and it was not his will to restore things to how they were after the resurrection.  They would be the main ministers now.  There would be no Jesus coming behind them. 

The earlier time was only preparatory for the Great Commission that would go beyond Israel to all the nations of the world.  This world would be dark and difficult.  In 1 Corinthians 4:11-13 Paul says, 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.  Before they lacked nothing, but in the future they are going to experience great lack in material things, yet not in the spiritual.  This brings us to a real challenge with faith.  Faith is not about getting what you think you need by declaring it.  Sure God tells us to ask and promises to provide for us.  But the disciples were headed into new peaks of faith that would require a person to trust God regardless of how good it looked like He was providing.  Sure, you have faith in God when you are blessed.  But, what about when you are hanging on a cross and feeling forsaken by God, do you have faith then?  I am not saying we will all end in such a situation.  However, it is our faith that overcomes the world, not our blessing.

Living by faith is not about how much or how little you have.  Before, he made them take nothing.  But having faith in God is about more than proving you trust him by having no provisions.  In Christ if you have nothing to start with, or you are fully supplied, you will need to have the same faith to accomplish what God is sending you to do.  Many a ministry that has been fully supplied has been ruined through trusting riches and fearing their loss.  However, many have never attempted ministry because they feel they have nothing to start it.  Do not look at what you have but rather look at what God is telling you to do and trust him.  The supply in this sense becomes irrelevant in regards to faith.  Use what you have, but never let it be what you trust in.

Why Did He Want Them To Have Swords?

The issue with the swords at the end of this passage has been a difficulty through the ages.  Why would Jesus tell them to get swords?  He is famous for being peaceful.  The word for “sword” here is in reference to a large knife or small sword.  Though it could be used in battle, it would be a very common thing for travelers to use for protection against animals and robbers, as well as a practical tool for cutting.  So why does Jesus want them to get these short swords?

Some have pointed to the Scripture that Jesus quotes, “He was numbered with the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12).  When Jesus is arrested, the presence of the swords, and the cutting off of the servant’s ear, would help to fulfill this Scripture.  Yet, Jesus was arrested and crucified for blasphemy.  He is crucified with a thief and a murderer.  How much more would need to be done to fulfill this prophecy?  If you look up the Isaiah 53 passage, you will notice that the quote follows the statement in Isaiah that the messiah would pour out his soul unto death.  I think that Jesus quotes this verse to point out that things are changing and not why they need swords.  Jesus is seen as a criminal and thus will be executed.  This will change things for them.

Another answer has been to say that they will need them as they journey on the Great Commission for protection from animals and robbers.  This seems to fit the passage better.  It would be another item of provision when going on a journey through wilderness areas.  Paul’s list in 2 Corinthians 11 gives us a feel for what they encountered in their travels.  “23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”  The swords could come in handy on such perilous journeys.  However, this still doesn’t quite fit to some.  We never see stories of the disciples using swords later.

Living By Faith Audio

Tuesday
Sep022014

The Cost of Following Jesus

Today we will finish Luke chapter 9 (vs. 57-62).  Jesus has been teaching his disciples what it means to be great in God’s eyes, in contrast to what they believed.  The capabilities of Christ seem wasted in merely dying on a cross.  This last section looks at three different men who are going to follow Jesus, but something gets in the way, whether they know it or not.  Jesus as a teacher points these barriers out to them, but also wants his disciples and us today to recognize the cost required in order to follow him.

Regardless of the Provisions

The first guy is found in verses 57-58.  He makes a bold statement of following Jesus “wherever you go.”  Jesus responds by reminding the man that he doesn’t even have a place to lay his head.  Now Jesus doesn’t mean that literally.  He is saying he doesn’t have a place of his own.  He is at the mercy of what God provides.  This issue of provision can become a stumbling block to many.  Christ makes no promise of earthly comforts to his disciples.  “Come follow me,” but I don’t know where I am going to sleep tonight.  The person who wants to follow Jesus is going to have to deal with the worry that rises in the heart of a person regarding provisions. 

This man desires to follow Jesus; however, Christ sees something in his heart.  He is a man who is us attached to certain provisions in his life.  It will be difficult for him to follow Jesus long if he doesn’t face the reality up front.  His good desire to follow Jesus is mixed in with many other desires.  The desire for comfort and certain provisions will eventually be challenged when following Jesus.  “Pick up your cross and follow me,” is no promise of great provisions.  It is a promise that he knows where he is headed and if we follow him God will take care of us.  God always provides, just not what we always desire.

Look at the life of Jesus.  He had meager origins and he lived by meager means.  Those who followed him in those days shared in that.  Even though he had donors who gave gifts to help him out, this is still a worrisome proposition for our flesh.  Thus if we are going to follow Christ then we need to sit down and count the cost.  This man only saw what he would gain in following Jesus.  But, Jesus wants him also to think about what he will lose, or at least might lose.  Jesus promises that if we lose anything in this world for his sake, God will make it up to us with so much more of something better.  Whether in this life or the life to come is not our concern.  God is more concerned with our spiritual growth than he is with our material prosperity.  Though it may serve His needs from time to time to bless a person with material prosperity, it is a test of faith as much as the times of little.  If my heart is overly attached to the material things of this world I will have trouble following Christ in difficult times.  The person who has little is tested in learning to trust the goodness of God.  The person who has much is tested in learning to give God the credit for the goodness and to use it for His glory.  Where your heart is there your treasure will lie.

Regardless of Timing

The second guy is found in verses 59-60.  We see some of the same issues in the next two guys.  So I will focus on the timing issue in this situation.  Here it is Jesus asking the guy to follow him.  Yet, the guy asks for more time in order to deal with his aging father.  Apparently he wants to follow Jesus, but the timing isn’t good for him.  Though the text says he needs to bury his father, it is highly unlikely that he means his dad is already dead.  People were buried very quickly after death.  Most likely his father is old and failing in health and he wants to go back home and wait until this situation has ended.  Of course then the estate will be divided and since he is following a man who can’t promise any provisions…  Well, you get the picture.

God often calls us to do things that are not good timing from our perspective.  “Go talk to your neighbor about their soul.”  Answer: But Lord, I’m not ready yet.  “Follow me.”  Answer: But Lord I have too many things I want to accomplish first.  When I’m retired I will really get down to business in serving you.  It is this “lack of timing” that causes to surface precisely what we need to deal with.  God’s timing is not bad.

We also see that here that good things can get in the way of God’s things.  There is nothing wrong with caring for family, burying those who die, and inheriting an estate.  However, such things can also divert us from doing what God is calling us to do.  In some cases, like missionaries, we have to say goodbye to many good things and simply trust the Lord.  In other cases, we must learn to do those things AND serve the Lord; at the same time.  We must be careful of thinking, “I will do this first and then serve God.”  If God is calling you today, then you either don’t need that which you will have to leave behind.  Besides, maybe he is calling someone else in the family to step in and care for dad.

The response that Jesus gives sounds strange.  “Let the dead bury the dead, but you follow me.”  Jesus is speaking spiritually here.  If the spirit of God is speaking and you are spiritually alive then you need to obey and follow God.  But if you are dead to the Spirit of God then by all means stay and do what you want.  There are many spiritually dead people in this world pursuing the joys and pleasure of this life without a thought for what God wants them to do.  But if you are alive then you can’t live like that.  What are God’s purposes in this world?  And, how do I fit in with those purposes?  These are the questions we need to answer and then act upon.

Regardless of What We Leave Behind

The third man is in verses 61-62.  This man also wants to deal with his affairs and say goodbye to his family.  His seems to be less of a wait and yet a wait nonetheless.  Let’s focus on the things we have to leave behind.  Sometimes family ties can hold us back from God’s call.  Even the mother and brothers of Jesus tried to restrain him from doing what He knew God was calling him to do.  So Jesus understood this problem well.  Dad and mom may not always understand what God is calling you to do.  If you let your good attachments to them get in the way, you may never follow Jesus for yourself.  It is not wrong to love family.  But our love for family should not be greater than our love for our Lord.  We use the phrase, “inordinate love.”  It is a love that is not given the correct order in relation to God.

Jesus also uses an image from farm life: plowing a field.  This metaphor demonstrates the importance of not looking back.  We must keep our focus on the task before us in order to do it well.  Distracted work is not done well.  Jesus does not want us to be distracted workers.  God is worthy of our undivided attention in the task that He gives us.  Thus learning to serve God with a whole heart is primary.  When the Lord calls us to salvation we can be tempted to look back to the pleasures of this world.  Those friends of the world will not be our friends any more unless they follow Jesus too.  It can be difficult to accept such things.  Even in service to the Lord we can be looking back to easier days and “better” things.  We can pause or even stop in our following of Jesus.

In each of these cases, Jesus is not trying to dissuade these men in following him.  But, precisely because he knows the path ahead is difficult, he requires us to count the cost in advance.  We do a disservice to people when we try to remove all the barriers to getting saved and following Jesus.  This is not real life.  Later, when you are not there to remove those barriers for them, they will falter.  God gives us truth so that we can make a decision that is based upon reality rather than fantasy.  May God help us to follow him regardless of these things to which we too easily become inseparably attached.

Cost of Following Jesus audio

Tuesday
Jul082014

The Lord Our Provider

We have many needs in life.  However, if we are not careful, our life can become a version of seeing how many plates we can keep spinning.  In such cases we are driven to keep an innumerable amount of desires satisfied.  Of course, it is never enough.  If I only had more skill at this then I could be like so and so.  Have you ever stopped to think that this most likely is not God’s plan for us?  Scripture clearly states that God does not want man to worry about how his needs will be supplied.  As long as God is with us, we can trust in Him.

Another problem is that we can focus only on material needs and neglect the even more important spiritual needs.  We need spiritual sustenance and healing as well as physical.  As we look at Luke 9:10-17, we find Jesus ministering to both the physical and spiritual needs of the people.  In this passage the feeding of the 5,000 teaches us that we need not grumble about what we lack because God will always provide.

Jesus Has Compassion For Us

Luke’s account is brief compared to the other gospels.  In both Matthew and Mark we are told that Jesus was “moved with compassion.”  This is a hallmark of Christ.  He is deeply touched with what it means to be human and have need.  Though it may seem strange, the teaching that God took on a human nature makes sense in the light of compassion.  He can identify with our situation and cares for us.

In fact the reason Jesus had gone out into this uninhabited area was in order to be alone with his disciples.  They had been going throughout Israel ministering with Jesus and had just returned to him.  Jesus knew that they needed some time alone with him in order to be the receiving ones.  Humans were not designed to only be givers.  We are to also be receiving from God and from that supply giving to others.  So it is not just the crowds that need Jesus, but also his faithful workers.

Even Jesus himself later sends his disciples across the lake while he prays on the mountain alone.  This sets up a powerful understanding.  We all need to receive from God as individuals in a quiet secret place of our own.  From that place we can be an encouragement to our close friends and family.  This part is a two way street.  I am giving to them, but they are also giving to me.  The third layer is the one of the crowd.  These are people who have no relationship with us at all.  However, Jesus had compassion for them as well.  Notice how we often want to choose one over the other.  Jesus kept them all in balance because he truly did care for each one.  Sometimes we can let the sheer numbers of the crowd and the never ending need drown out our care for them.  The opposite is true as well.  Some people care more for the crowds than they do for those closest to them.  May God help us to love Him, our friends and family, and the unknown people around us.

These people were imposing on Jesus and his disciples.  But he had compassion on them.  Many of them would only follow him if he was doing miracles.  They would never enter his Church after his resurrection.  Some of them would stand in Jerusalem shouting, “Crucify Him!”  Yet, he had compassion.  As he ministered to Judas, knowing that he would betray him, so we must listen to the heart beat of how Jesus operated.  Jesus began teaching the people and healing those who needed healed.

Jesus Wants His Disciples To Have Compassion

As it approaches evening, the disciples come to Jesus with a practical concern.  He needs to tell the people to leave if they are going to find lodging and food for the night.  The area they were in was uninhabited.  But, Jesus turns this problem back on them.  “You give them something to eat.”  Jesus is not a dummy.  He understands that there is not enough food around.  He is testing them.  Another word for testing is “training.”  These disciples need to learn to operate from the same compassion and trust in God that Jesus had.

It starts with choosing to be a giver.  It is easy to always send people on their way and never ask the question, “Does God want me to give to them?”  Being a giver has nothing to do with how much you have to give, but with how much you care for the other person.  Even when we have much to give, we can operate from a “mentality of lack.”  People need Truth and Love even more than they need food and clothing.  We always have something to give.  Like Peter at the temple we can say, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee.”  Quit looking at what you don’t have as an excuse for your lack of compassion.  Rather, give what you can material or spiritual out of compassion.  Our heavenly Father is a great giver.  Look at all that He has provided on earth and throughout the universe.  To become like Him is to become a giver.  So make that choice.  You will find that when you become a giver, your out-of-control consumption is restrained.  Your mentality will not be about how little you have, but how much you can give.

Which points out, we shouldn’t worry about what we have to give.  Whatever it is, it is enough.  It is enough to help the other person.  You are not God and He doesn’t expect you to meet all of their needs.  We spend too much time bemoaning what we don’t have.  In truth we can actually rejoice in the little that we have.  Why?  We can rejoice because God’s supply will be easier to see.  Paul saw this when he said, “when I am weak then I am strong.”  He knew that his weakness would make God’s strength all the more obvious, which would then strengthen his faith and the faith of others.  When we are strong we delude ourselves into thinking it is all us.  When in truth God is even then helping us.

We need to also give in both material and spiritual things.  Different people tend to go one way or the other.  We either give $5.00 to someone and go on our way, or we hand them a Bible tract and go on our way.  I am not saying that either of these is wrong.  The real question is about our motivation.  God, how can I help this person?  Sometimes we need to stop giving people money and help them in other ways.  This takes true care and the wisdom of God.  Jesus was able to do both.  He fed the people food, but also taught them about the Kingdom of God.  Sometimes people do not realize that they have great spiritual need.  They may despise your attempts to minister to them spiritually.  Compassion should not be given because the recipient is so thankful.  It should be given because it is the right thing to do.

This Event Parallels Israel In The Wilderness

When you step back from this story, you realize that is practically a reenactment of Israel and Moses in the wilderness.  First, we have a people who go out to meet with God in the wilderness.  In the Exodus it was Israel leaving Egypt to follow Moses.  Here it is people who are hungry for God leaving the society of Israel behind to follow the Messiah.  In both cases it is a remnant of all the people in the land who follow God.  Today, the Church is the remnant of the tribes, tongues, and nations of the earth that have been called out of the world system in order to meet with God.

The second point is that God provides bread and meat for them.  In the exodus, they began to complain and God miraculously provided manna and quail as well as water.  Jesus of course takes 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and feeds over 5,000 with it.  In fact in this case it is the Messiah who does the miracle.  Whereas Moses only told the people what God would do.  Even today, the material needs of God’s people are met by Him.  He promised that if we would put His Kingdom first, then He would provide our material needs.

The third point is that God provided Truth and Instruction for them.  Moses is known as the lawgiver because God gave his laws to Israel through him.  Here, Jesus instructs the people in the new society they are to become a part of, the kingdom of God.  It is easy to settle for bread and meat and to not care about the spiritual.  God is not content to just meet our material needs.  As Christians we can be guilty of being part of the religious crowd, but not really letting the teaching of Christ change our life.  Here is a question for you.  Do you interpret the Bible in the lens of what you want and feel?  Or, do you interpret your feelings and wants in the lens of Scripture?  Don’t be foolish and twist God’s Truth to fit what you want.  We are the ones who need to repent, not God.

In some of the other gospels we are told that the people continued to follow Jesus in the days after this great miracle, hoping for more bread and fish.  Yet, he rebuked them and said they needed to work as hard for spiritual food as they did for food for their stomach.  Thus commendation is for those who trust the Lord, not those who saw a miracle.  In days of the Exodus, all the people saw great miracles, but they perished in the desert because they did not have faith in God.  Faith turns away from grumbling and towards thanksgiving.  Faith turns away from complaining and towards rejoicing.  Faith turns away from disobedience and towards obedience.  Faith does not focus on our lack, but rejoices in His faithful supply.  The Lord is our provider and He has not failed us yet!

Lord our Provider Audio

Tuesday
Jul012014

Power and Authority Delegated

Today we will be looking at Luke chapter 9 and verses one through ten.  It is easy to think of the ministry of Jesus and his disciples in the sense that the disciples were just baggage that Jesus carried around with him.  However, in today’s passage we see that, even before the cross, Christ had sent them on missions in which they were able to do what Christ had been doing (to some degree).  How was this possible?  It was possible because Jesus had delegated to them his power and authority.

Power and Authority Delegated

In the first two verses we see that the word delegated is not used.  However, it clearly says that Jesus gave his disciples power and authority.  Of course, this is the very definition of delegation.  The word “power” focuses on the raw power to do something.  The disciples would have this “raw power” because the Holy Spirit would work through them.  Jesus was giving this to them.  The word “authority” focuses on the right or position that enables one to do something.  As personal representatives of Jesus, they are given the right to act on the behalf of Jesus in certain ways.

Now remember that Jesus has more than proven his power and authority by this point.  He has shown power over disease and nature.  He has also demonstrated power and authority over spiritual powers.  So when he tells them that he is “giving” them power we should sit up and take notice.  This somewhat amazing command is helped by the very nature of the one giving it.

Freeing a person from a spirit or from a virus is really quite similar.  A foreign entity is removed so that a person can operate as God intended them to do.  Yet, spirits do have sentience.  So Jesus tells them to cast out spirits and to cure diseases.  Yet, the authority and power is limited.  They are not told to take over the administration of Israel, or to command the Romans to leave Israel.  Thus true delegation is powerful and yet limited by the one who is giving it.  It is easy to do to dismiss the “backwards” notion of evil spirits.  However, those who have honestly researched into these things will find that too many things cannot be explained.  I won’t go into it this morning, but God’s Word warns us against opening ourselves up to evil spirits through drugs and occult rituals.  These things are ways that people give “permission” to evil entities to begin operating within them.  As our nation, more and more, rejects Jesus and God’s Word, we will begin to see more and more demonic activity.  Are you ready?

Now in verse two it mentions that they are to preach the Kingdom of God.  Thus while they do spectacular works of power, they are proclaiming a message about God’s Kingdom.  Israel had longed for the Anointed King or (Messiah) to come and rule with the righteousness of God.  His would be a just administration that would truly be God with us.  Jesus and his disciples proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was now here.  However, it has a present and a future sense.  In the spiritual, Jesus would take up rule in the hearts of his believers without an earthly throne.  By his Spirit in their hearts he would direct and rule over this kingdom from heaven.  This is not exactly what Israel was expecting.  They were looking for the Messiah to sit on a throne in Jerusalem and raise up Israel to rule over the world.  Now there is a future promise that Jesus will come back to earth in physical form.  He will also put down the armies of the nations of the world as they try to stop his coming.  Jesus will indeed rule in person on this earth one day.  But that day is not yet.  Thus there was a strong need for some powerful proof that the disciples were not just making up a likely fairy tale to explain why Jesus had “failed,” once he was crucified.

Don’t Worry About Provision

In verse three Jesus tells them not to stock up on things that they would normally take with them on a journey.  Why?  Material provisions and our worry about them can often get between us and God’s plan.  So, Jesus ensures that they will have to learn quickly how to trust God and Him alone.  In some ways not taking anything would make matters worse.  From day one they could worry about where their next meal would come from.  They could worry more.  But, as they found God supplying their needs they would grow in faith.  Sometimes God allows us to enter times that seem lean to us.  Yet, if we will trust Him, we will find that His supply will remain constant, though maybe not at the level we hope for.  If we remain thankful and faithful, we will become more like Christ and bring joy to our heavenly Father.

We also notice that God would provide through people.  This is seen in the following verses.  This too is a pitfall.  Will I become to lean on people more than God who opens their heart towards me?  What is my motivation?  Am I seeking to mooch off of people or even worse, fleece them?  The work of a minister is to be a humble one.  I am at the mercy and care of others.  I should never take advantage of that, nor become angry when it is not up to my liking.  If God calls you to full-time ministry then He will provide for you.  It will often come through the help of people who are thankful for your ministry on God’s behalf.  Do not let that corrupt you.  Rather continually give God thanks no matter what is given and minister freely to those who do not have.  Even if you are not called to full-time ministry, no matter what God calls you to do, He will provide.  You won’t have to shake people down, or manipulate them through better fundraising techniques.  You merely need to pray and be faithful at what He has called you to do.

Don’t Worry About How You Are Received

In verses 4-5 Jesus speaks about the kinds of reception they will receive.  Now when we say, “don’t worry about how people receive you,” it doesn’t mean you don’t care about how they respond.  But, it does mean we refuse to operate out of a method that will change the message in order to get more to receive us.  Jesus was rejected by the religious leaders because he pointed out their sins.  Some would receive the disciples.  Perhaps because of what was being preached and wanting to know more.  Or perhaps, because of a miracle that they had seen the disciples do.  They would find people who wanted to be a part of the kingdom of God and would invite them into their houses and feed them.

On the other hand some people would reject them.  Not all still believe there is such a thing as the Kingdom of God.  Perhaps they have grown cynical.  They would be rejected by individuals and yet, Jesus says that they might be rejected by whole villages.  The Gospel was not to be changed in order to appease them.  Rather, Jesus instructed his disciples to shake the dust off of their feet as they left town.  This is a reference to a custom of some religious Jews who, when they left Gentile cities, would shake off the dust from their feet as a sign that they wanted no contamination to cling to them.  Yet, here Jesus uses it as a sign that the disciples had been there and would leave evidence that God could point to as proof of the guilt of those who rejected them.  When we come in the name and manner of Jesus, He will deal with those who reject us.  We need not be bitter or compromising.

The Rulers of This World Perplexed

In verses 6-10, we see Herod perplexed.  Jesus is the king of the Kingdom of God.  However, the current King of Israel isn’t sure how to take him.  Herod is himself a pretender to the throne.  Given to him by Rome’s Ceasar, Herod had no true claim to Israel’s throne.  Yet, Jesus does not seem to be trying to take it.  He doesn’t “do politics” in a way that Herod understands.  Herod also seems to have some guilt about killing John the Baptist.  He conjectures that Jesus just may be John come back from the dead.

Although God works indirectly through world leaders, His primary tool in this world is His Church- people who are surrendered to His rule and mission in their life.  God has rejected the wise men and the movers and shakers of this world.  This perplexes them.  They cannot conceive that anything great can truly be done without them.  But God has pledged to do exactly this.  If you find yourself among the powerful of this world, humble yourself and beg of God for grace.  Jesus and His Kingdom will not be brought in by Herod, Ceasar, or the leaders of the world today.  Rather, He will do so through the most humble of the earth.  1 Corinthians 2:7- 8 says, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.”

Just as Herod was perplexed with Jesus, so the spiritual powers behind him are at a loss as well.  The strategy of Jesus is quite different from the schemes and tricks of the devil.  In fact, had satan realized what crucifying Christ was doing for sinners, he most likely would have refrained from instigating the leaders against him.  But now Jesus has spiritually bound the strongman.  Those who know Christ are given the right and authority to preach the gospel on His behalf.  He also chooses to confirm this gospel through signs and wonders that he performs at his desire.  Yet, the battle is not completely over.  Even as satan is spiritually bound today and all are free to embrace Jesus, many still reject Christ.  Eventually God will let the world and its leaders have the way that they have desired, which will only lead to rapid ruin for this planet.  So until the Kingdom of God is materially instituted on this earth are you operating within it by the Spirit already?  Christ is still delegating today power and authority to His faithful disciples.  We must respond in a way that waits upon the Lord for direction as to how he has determined for us to serve him.  We must also be bold in this hour when the enemy wants to cause us to fear through intimidation.  Respond to the Spirit today by putting your faith in Jesus and becoming a proclaimer of the Kingdom of God.

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