Keys of the Kingdom 18

Keys of the Kingdom 18 January 30, 2008

Here are the words of Jesus from Matthew 10, our next reference to kingdom in the Gospels: 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, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; 10 take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep..

1. The message the twelve missionaries are to preach is summed up in these words: “the kingdom of heaven is near.” The same is found at Luke 9:2 where it is connected as well with healing.
2. This message is the same message John (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus (4:17) preached. Thus, part of this point is continuity: from John to Jesus to the Twelve we have one message; that message is that the kingdom has drawn near.
3. The terms “is near” means future, perhaps imminently future, but still future. This term does not mean “already here” but “near, very near, so near its presence is being felt.”
4. Alongside this “message” (kerygma) is act: healing, raising dead, cleansing lepers, exorcising demons, living by faith in God’s provision.
5. Do we look back too? Is the kingdom Jesus preaches and tells his disciples to preach the kingdom that gathers in the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”? If so, this kingdom is not concerned with Gentiles or Samaritans, but the “lost sheep” — whoever they might be.
6. The praxis of missioners is to enter a community, find someone worthy — someone who responds to this kingdom message and actions — and settle there. So, there is community formation involved in this missional work. (Opposition too!)

It seems to me we are back to two things: (1) what the word “kingdom” meant in the Jewish world (esp here) and (2) how Jesus has used this term up to this point. My contention is that we thrust back on these themes: God as King, Davidic kingdom expectations (think Magnificat, Benedictus, Nunc Dimittis), God’s will, God’s society, God’s society doing God’s will, etc.. Land is involved in such expectation.
Your thoughts?

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