They wanted what he offered a new life. He had stood in the midst of the temple reading from the prophet Isiah and declared that he was the one spoken about in that passage. He declared that the anointed one on whom God’s spirit was poured upon would heal the sick, set captives free and that it was him. His ministry on earth had begun and the people heard him talk, they saw the healings and he challenged them to live by a new law.
I have often wondered if the reception of him in the scriptures would be different if the elitist religious leaders had embraced him as much as the sinners did. Yet, I believe in the scriptures that tell us one must die for the forgiveness of sin. God knew many would embrace him and many would reject him. That is still the situation we find today. We hear that in this gospel when Jesus tells those he was sending out that some will not accept the message they were to proclaim.
I want you to notice that those called to proclaim the message are not the twelve disciples but 72 ordinary people who followed him. What would cause anyone to go out without any resources of their own other than their belief that God’s power would be manifest through them? I know that in order to go and do what he told them to do only happened because they understood he had equipped them to tap into the power of God. If you take the time to read the scriptures you see this time and time again.
Luke in his gospel gives us a true picture of what any follower of Christ must be and must do. The picture he paints is one where the disciple identifies with Christ and becomes a reflection of Christ, just as Christ was the reflection of the Father. They responded to the call and because they did they did what Christ did and they came back rejoicing. This gospel is not a story like a child’s bedtime story that teaches us a truth about life. It is a story directed at us and challenges us to risk rejection and go proclaim the kingdom of God is among us.
Luke in his Gospel, talks about the Kingdom of God more than 60 times. It is an important theme and Luke gives us a picture of the Kingdom to come when Christ comes in his glory. That is the Kingdom where Christ reigns and intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father where we will also shine. But Luke also shows us a kingdom where we disciples live today, where God is present to us and his power is at work in us who believe and obey.
We often have a singular view of the reason Christ came among us – for our salvation. To reconcile us to the Father so we can live our created purpose of being in the presence of God daily. So we, made in his image, would know the depth of God’s love for us because he sent his only son – so that those who believe would not perish but have life eternal.”
Yet Jesus gives us in his own words another dimension to his coming – to proclaim the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is at hand, Christ tells us and he tells us that it is that kingdom which we must seek before we seek anything else. Once we find it we realize this kingdom is one where a disciple acknowledges Christ in all things. We acknowledge Christ in our life by words and in our deeds, we acknowledge Christ at work or at play, we acknowledge Christ in religious settings and in secular settings.
It is a kingdom where we feel the power of God at work among us bringing joy, peace, mercy, forgiveness and healing. It is a kingdom where our hearts sings and rejoices because it is a heart beating with the love of a lover.
I know as I say these things that many of you have never considered your faith journey to be any more than going to church and participating in its programs. Do you think those 72 had anything in mind other than just being in the presence of Jesus? I do not think they did and yet when told to go they went and saw things and did things they could only imagine. Jesus today is telling you to go and proclaim the kingdom. Do you want to stay in the comfort and safety of church or do you want to do what you were created and gifted to accomplish?
When Jesus said come follow me, he did not mean for you to never do any more than follow. His call was and is a call to die to self and live for Christ. My brothers and sisters, this week tell one person each day that God is in our land and that the kingdom of God is where all we seek is found. Then be prepared to tell then what we found in the kingdom.