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Home For Middle Easterners New King, New Kingdom” - Text

New King, New Kingdom” - Text

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New King, New Kingdom” Luke 5:1-26

Australians are renowned for understating things and finding short-hand ways of referring to people and things. I remember reading a history of the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese and one man who lived through it described it as getting “a bit of a tickle”.

But it’s only when you investigate what that summary description involves that the true significance of the event is understood. That raid was commanded by the same squadron leader who led the attack on Pearl harbour only weeks earlier, and more planes were involved in the first raid on Darwin than attacked Pearl harbour.

We have a similar type of thing from Jesus himself (4:43). Jesus said, “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”

This is Jesus’ summary or shorthand description of his mission. But it is only when we understand this summary description that we see the true significance of Christ’s mission.

Luke’s desire in his biography of Jesus is to show us who Jesus is and what he is about, and especially how this notion of ‘preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God’ is at the heart of Jesus’ public teaching ministry mission.

So, we need to ask, “What is the Kingdom of God”? Why is this phrase used by Jesus as a summary of the heart of his mission?

The idea of a kingdom is not difficult: it is the place over which a king rules. For example: The United Kingdom has set geographical boundaries - England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – which you can fly over it to see its features and form. And the United Kingdom has a king or a queen who rules the territory and people of the kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is no more difficult to understand than that. It is simply a shorthand way of describing God’s rule over his people in his place or territory.

This idea is right through the Old Testament. Every Jew believed that God rules his world, but because of sin or rebellion, the rule of God is no longer clearly seen. So, every Jew looked forward to the time when once again God’s kingdom or rule over the people he created and his world in general would once again be clearly seen or visible.

The prophets conveyed God’s promise that the Messiah would be God’s king who would come into the world to gather God’s people into God’s place, and make visible God’s rule.

The Messiah would establish God’s Kingdom.

It is this idea that is central to everything Jesus is and does. This is Jesus’ gospel. The word gospel simply means a declaration of good news. So the gospel of Jesus is to proclaim that in him and through his words the kingdom of God has arrived.

That’s the amazing truth that Luke wants us to see from the incidents in Luke 4:14-44, that framed the start of Jesus’ public ministry.

Jesus of Nazareth was Messiah whom Isaiah prophesied would come into the world and establish God’s rule among his people and set things right by freeing and restoring people to health and strength and relationship with God.

That’s why Luke has been so keen in chapters 1-3 to show Jesus’ credentials. He is God come into the world in true human form. He is God’s son here on the mission, which has the total backing of God the father and the Spirit’s unlimited power to enable success.

So, in Jesus the Kingdom of God is now a reality. But this raises some questions. What does the Kingdom look like? Can we see it? What form or shape or boundaries does it have? What is important in God’s kingdom? Who will be part of God’s kingdom?

We get the answers to these questions in the next few chapters of Luke’s account. Luke has set the scene, as it were. He has introduced the new King and spoken of the reality of God’s new Kingdom, which is now described and identified in detail in a series of incidents.

God’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom ( Luke 4:14-44).  That was immediately obvious in chapter 4. It would not be like national Israel with geographical boundaries. It would be a spiritual kingdom concerned with spiritual realities such as sin and repentance and salvation and relationship with God.

Therefore, it is focussed on people ( Luke 5:1-11). Luke records an incident that begins with Jesus teaching, presumably about the Kingdom of God, as his mission compelled him to do. A large crowd tells of growing interest in his teaching.

Having completed what he wanted to say, Jesus then suggests they do fishing. To Peter, an experienced local fisherman, the idea was ridiculous. He knew that the best chance of catching fish with nets in deep water was at night time. He also knew there was nothing around as he and others, had slogged it out on the water all night, and caught nothing.

But, trying to show respect for Jesus, or just to humour him, Peter did what he was asked which results in an absolutely massive catch. Peter’s reaction and the absolute astonishment of the other fishermen involved tells us that this catch was indeed miraculous. And they were left wondering what sort of bloke has this sort of control over nature?

But the miracle is not the end point of the story. It is like a sign post. When I see a signpost to Tamworth, it is not Tamworth, it points me to Tamworth.

In the same way the miracle shows that Jesus is God - only God can control the fish of the sea in this way. But at the same time the miracle points to a more important truth: namely, that the Kingdom of God established by the word of Jesus, has as its focus, people.

The catching of the fish is an illustration of what Jesus’ kingdom would be focussed on – gathering his people and bringing them under his rule as the net of the gospel is thrown out.

And even more amazing, that those who are captured and drawn into Jesus’ kingdom would themselves be made catchers by Jesus to help achieve his mission.

Friends, here is the Kingdom of God being established in real time. Here is what it means to belong to the Kingdom of God. These blokes are confronted with the power and authority of King Jesus; confronted with their sin, need for grace and restoration by the King; drawn into new praise and willingness to demonstrate new loyalty and obedience to the King in a new life of selfless discipleship.

Practically that meant they walked away from their life’s work just when they had landed the best catch of their lives. All this was unimportant in light of confrontation with King Jesus.

So, if this does not describe you, then you have not yet confronted King Jesus properly and that means you are not yet in his Kingdom.

Luke quickly follows up this amazing incident with two more miracles designed to illustrate Christ’s compassion and determination to gather his people ( Luke 5 : 12-26).

Leprosy in bible times was the most feared and most despised disease. It was a dreadful bacterial disease which slowly rotted the flesh, disfigured a person and eventually killed them. The only defence against its spread was quarantine. So those with leprosy were forced to live in total isolation from all others except fellow sufferers.

To have leprosy was to be defiled or considered despicably dirty and totally unwanted. It was a situation of great shame and total hopelessness, cut off from all normal relationship, including relationship with God through temple worship.

At one stage Jesus is confronted by a man in the advanced stages of leprosy- his whole body was covered with sores, perhaps even stinking sores as they often became infected.

This poor bloke recognised in Jesus the opportunity to have his greatest need addressed – the need to be made clean; the need to have his shame removed; the need to be put back in a relationship where once again he was valued and honoured as the person he was.

His fear was that Jesus would not be interested in him. But no doubt to the amazement of this man and the whole crowd, Jesus did both the unthinkable and the impossible: He touched the man and said, “I am willing, be clean”.

The man was physically healed, but once again the miracle points to the more important truth that he was made clean.

Jesus had given him the first physical contact he had with another human being in years – a touch that was full of tenderness and compassion and restoration.

Jesus identified with him – in his loneliness; in his shame; in his desire for relationship; in his need to have things put right so that he could be what he was created to be instead of a hideous caricature; in opening the way for him to be restored to a position of honour and value in his household and in his world in general.

That Jesus sent him to the priest, who was like a health inspector, was simply to put the man’s restoration beyond question. It was backed by the highest religious authorities.

What a wonderful picture of King Jesus at work gathering his people – people without hope; people who beyond the power of religion and society to help let alone restore.

From there Luke takes us immediately to a similar incident, where Jesus appears to be getting on with teaching the Kingdom, and verse 17, the phrase: “The power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick” suggests that Jesus had already healed some people before the eyes of the top Jewish religious leaders.

Anyway, some blokes went to a lot of trouble to get their friend, who had been paralysed for life – most probably a quadriplegic – up close to Jesus.

Again Luke wants us to understand that neither the paralysed men nor his friends had any doubt that Jesus could heal his disease. The real question was whether Jesus would be interested in someone like him.

Jesus did interrupt his teaching, but perhaps anticipating that everyone looking would expect just another miracle of healing, the first thing he said to this man was not about sickness but about sin – Your sins are forgiven.

The Jewish religious leaders immediately reacted in their minds, Luke 5 : 22, hearing these words as utter blasphemy, a crime punishable by death. Now, if I am right about Luke 5 : 17, and Jesus had already been healing people, then this helps explain the Pharisees reaction and helps make the point Jesus wants to make.

It may have been that the Pharisees were happy enough with Jesus being a fancy miracle worker, but to claim that he had forgiven the man’s sin, was just outrageous blasphemy.

Jesus knowing what they were thinking asks them a question. Clearly the answer is that it is much easier just to say “your sins are forgiven’, because nobody can tell if it’s true or not.

But there is another layer of challenge in this question that we often miss. The Jews believed that illnesses such as paralysis were a result of sin, and that they would only be healed when the person’ sin was removed completely.

Therefore they would conclude that if the man remained paralysed, it was evidence his sins were not forgiven, and Jesus would be shown to be a blasphemer and deserving of death.

Jesus then heals the man instantly and completely. So sudden and complete is the reversal that this man has full muscle tone, strength, and flexibility, after years of being a cripple, and he gets up and taking the stretcher that had been his bed for years, and went home praising God as he went.

So the point is made. Jesus has authority over sickness and disease. More importantly Jesus proved he has authority to forgive sin and restore this man to relationship with God, evidenced in his physical healing. Jesus proves to the Pharisees that not only is he a miracle worker, but he is God who forgives sin.

Once again we see that Christ’s kingdom is about people and the great King is compassionate towards and determined to gather those who are helpless and hopeless without him – paralysed by sin and in great need of a great reversal, a fresh start whereby they are freed to praise and serve the Lord as they were created to do.

Friends, by way of application can I just urge you to read and re-read these verses this afternoon and this week until you can see the Jesus Luke wants us to meet and see the beauty of his kingdom..

So much more could be said about these incidents and how they fit together to show us more of King Jesus and what his kingdom is like. It is a kingdom for people who are hopeless and helpless. It is a kingdom where honour is restored to those who are shamed; where relationship with God is re-connected because the problem of sin is removed completely.

How amazing is it that King Jesus is so concerned for his people and their plight. In the history of our world Kings have generally been interested in themselves. They expect their subjects to keep them in luxury while their people exist in poverty and need.

How amazing is it that King Jesus seeks out his people at their point of need and without regard for their shame and misery?

 

How amazing is it that King Jesus provides for his people in their greatest needs – forgiveness, a fresh start into new life. Sin and illness and disease leave God’s people in grotesque states – outcast, cut off from God and paralysed before him, unable to help themselves. But King Jesus reverses this grotesque world of sin and puts us back as we were meant to be – those made to serve and obey the Lord.

 

 

How amazing is it that King Jesus is there for his people identifying with them and that he gathers them to himself in new obedience and loyalty.

 

How confident are you that the same King jesus can gather you and keep you in spite of ongoing failings and sin?

 

 

How confident are you that king Jesus can easily, through the spoken gospel word of salvation gather your sin deformed, sin hardened, God dismissing, spiritually hopeless, hurting, broken desperate friends, family and workmates?

 

David Calderwood

 

 

 

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 23 May 2011 10:10  

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