June 15, 2016
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Somehow, in my decades of Bible reading and study, I’ve never seen this. It’s something so simple yet so profound, and yet it is too profound to be simple. When Jesus sent THE TWELVE out with his authority, he also gave them a seven word sermon to preach as they went. Give the text a quick re-read and see it for yourself.
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
I’ve preached a lot of sermons over the years and I’m sure I’ve said this in so many words, but I’m convinced that “so many words” just may be my problem. While I’ve likely spoken these seven words in a sermon, I’m quite sure I have never proclaimed these seven words as the sermon itself.
How about you? Have you ever heard this sermon before? Have you ever proclaimed it?
‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
These seven words are the presupposition of all we do in the name of Jesus–preaching, teaching, healing, deliverance, helping those in need, serving the poor, potluck suppers and so on. ;0) This is the presupposition that can never be assumed. It needs to be explicitly declared, always.
We want the Gospel to have clarity. We want to be able to put it into propositional statements and spiritual laws. Some want it to be simply helping people without any proclamation. Others want it to be a clearly articulated, doctrinally sound sermon that brings people under conviction. Still others want to cut to the chase and invite people to confess their sins, pray a prayer to receive Jesus and be baptized. And a great majority of the church as we have known her just wants to get people to “join the church.”
What if before the Gospel can have clarity it must have simplicity, and what if the the most profound simplicity comes in the proclamation of these seven words—the unstated assumption and underlying presupposition of all that the Gospel and the Church in their deepest essence most truly are: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
These seven words hold the essence of awakening; however, it must begin with our own awakening to the reality they declare.
1. Challenge: I want you to repeat these seven words aloud multiple times. Don’t count. Just do it till you are finally both hearing and listening. Invite the Holy Spirit to bring these words to the deepest attention to your innermost self. Don’t analyze, just posture yourself to receive them as the Word of God.
2. What effect or impact did this exercise have on you? If you didn’t actually do it go back now to #1 and reconsider doing it. Aloud. This time with feeling. ;0)
3. What are some of the implications of these seven words? While we may say more after we’ve declared these words, we will say little of consequence until we have declared them. What if that’s the case?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.