Bob's Sermon for Sunday, March 11, 2017


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 “Was Jesus mistaken about the kingdom?”

Mark 9: 1 NIV


     (Mark 9:1) “And he (Jesus) said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’"


      A generation ago, Jesus’ comment about his kingdom created fiery debates. When folks now hear the word “kingdom,”   they think of Walt Disney’s magic places. 


     Kingdom also kindles thoughts of children’s books—“Once upon a time, a royal couple lived happily ever after.” Kingdom suggests make-believe, fantasies, or at most a tent-lodging Saudi-Arabian potentate. Few of us relate kingdom to every-day experiences, true? Before we can decide whether Jesus was mistaken, we must connect with what he meant by the term “kingdom.”


     It is not as hard as you might think.“Kingdom” associations are not limited to childhood fantasy and imagination. People get really worked up over most kingdom-connected words. Here is a “for instance.” The word “rule” is a kingdom-related term. When judges “rule” on certain issues, heated debates often erupt. Any report of a “reign of terror,” is using kingdom terminology.  When we speak of someone “governing,” or “managing” people, it is kingdom talk. The word kingdom involves ruling and asks the question, “Who or what is in charge?” 


     Those questions occur in Florida, Washington, D.C., Des Moines, and parts east, west, north, and south. They occur in every household, in every relationship, and in every living brain. What or who manages you, what you think, what you spend, and where you go? “Who is in charge” triggers marital spats, labor disputes, parent-child tiffs, and school shootings. “I am my own person. Nobody tells me what to do!” “We don’t like outsiders coming in and telling us what to do.” Matters of who is in charge and who makes decisions continually rile people.


     These topics all relate to God’s kingdom. Yet even preachers say little about it. They mention Jesus, of course. But they say almost nothing about Jesus’ major topic, namely God’s kingdom. Think of these stats:  

·         In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus used the term “kingdom” more than 50 times.

·         In Luke, “kingdom” appears 44 times.

·         In all the Gospels, it appears about 120 times.


     Can you guess how many times the word “church” appears in the Gospels? In the Gospels, “church” appears three times. “What about the word love?” you ask. Love appears 53 times in the Gospels—less than one half the number of their kingdom references. Considering how often Jesus spoke of it, the Kingdom must be important.


    Some time ago, Norma was fixing dinner and I was fixated watching newscasters tell the bad news of the day. Suddenly I heard Norma’s voice. She was unusually irritated. She distinctly said, “Are we going to have to get you a hearing aid? I’ve asked you twice, if you’d put water on the table and you haven’t answered me.” By that time, she was putting water on the table herself. She mentioned water twice and considered it important. If she’d had to say it 120 times, she might have been looking for a new husband.


     Jesus and the New Testament writers used the term “Kingdom” more than 150 times; it appears many times in the Old Testament. Yet hardly anyone pays attention to the subject, let alone what Jesus said about it. What did he mean when he stated: “Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power"?


     Opinions abound.

·         Some have ridiculed Jesus saying he was badly mistaken.

“Where is the kingdom Jesus promised?” they scoff. “We don’t see it anywhere. We see only war, greed, cheating, sexual excess, and lawlessness. We see no evidence of any kingdom.”

·         Others scratch their heads about Jesus’ statement in our text,


     Here’s the conflict: About 27 AD, Jesus said that his kingdom would come with power during the lifetime of some alive then.

·         Many assume Jesus meant that goodness and righteousness would forever prevail.

·         There’d be no more war, no more cheating, no more terrorists, and no more bad people.

      Listen to 15 minutes of news any day from any source and you

 know it did not happen.

In the battle between good and evil, evil seems to be winning big-time.


     Suppose I were to play one-on-one basketball against LeBron James.  It seems that good loses that badly to evil. Would you bet on me winning a golf match against any golf pro? Give me a handicap of 40; I’d still lose by several strokes. The odds of good triumphing seem as likely as my chances in those fictional matches. By the way, in using these comparisons, I am not intimating that I am good or better than anyone else.


     Was Jesus mistaken? How could he miss so far? When an astrologer correctly predicted that a lady at the court would die within eight days, Louis XI (of France), a devout believer in astrology, was duly impressed. “But he was convinced that the too accurate prophet was dangerous, so he plotted to have the man killed. You claim to understand astrology and to know the fate of others,’ Louis said to the astrologer as he was being restrained. ‘Any last prediction about your own life?’ ‘I shall die three days before Your Majesty,’ answered the astrologer. The king decided not to execute him.”[1] I don’t believe in going to astrologers or fortune tellers whether they appear accurate or not. But was that astrologer more accurate than Jesus?


     Jesus predicted the kingdom would come with power. If it came “where is the kingdom?” many ask.


     God’s kingdom is here and I am convinced of it. Are you thinking that I have totally lost it? If Jesus meant that good would prevail in the world, it surely has not happened. If Jesus meant that the end would soon come and he would take his followers to heaven that did not happen either.


What did Jesus mean? The Bible explains the situation this way:


  1. First, the Bible uses the word “kingdom” in more than one way.

 For example, the Bible speaks of the kingdom as a present reality. We recently discussed demon possession. Recall what Jesus said about the fact that he could drive evil spirits from people. He said “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”[2] The fact that he was casting out evil spirits meant that the kingdom had arrived.


     In the 40s and 50s, two of my siblings were stricken with polio-a disease that used to permanently cripple many people. 


     Fifty years ago folks feared polio more than they did cancer. But after Drs. Salk and Sabin perfected polio vaccines, polio is rare in this country. In a sense those doctors cast out polio; those vaccinated against it have little to fear. Similarly, Jesus’ power to cast out demons ended evil’s domination: “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” This meant: if Jesus can resist the devil and overcome his evil spirits, things are changing. The devil still lurks and trips up folks, yet those who trust Jesus and follow his way, can conquer him.


     That’s why Jesus said the kingdom is here. But in Matthew 25, Jesus spoke of the kingdom as arriving in the future—that comes after Judgment Day.


"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.

“All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “‘Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’”[3] Here Jesus said we inherit the kingdom at his return—it’s in the future. “So which is it?” you ask. “Is the kingdom a present reality or does it begin in heaven for us after the Judgment?” 


  1. The answer is in Jesus’ comparison of the kingdom to a mustard seed.[4]

You know what happens with seeds.


     In 1947 I was a boy in Oregon. Water ran down a ditch by the road in front of our house. The area had many springs and Oregon has lots of rain so water ran in that ditch year-round. One day someone gave my mother a willow tree sprig. She asked me to set it out. I planted it about a foot from that ditch and it began growing. It was my dad, I think, who advised me to move it because he feared what would happen if that thing continued to grow. I transplanted that willow sprig near a spring in the back yard about fifty feet from the house. That sprig grew and became a huge tree that we often had to trim. We have pictures of family members standing near it. It dominated the back yard. Our kids played under the tree fifty years ago.


     When did that willow sprig become a tree? I’m not sure. Botanists know this and you likely do, too. All the necessary elements were in the cells of that sprig to become a giant tree seventy some years ago.


     When Jesus came to the earth, he brought the seed--the sprig of the kingdom. It will not be a full-grown until the number of God’s people is complete on the last day. The full potential of the kingdom, however, was present in Jesus.


     Where is the kingdom now?


     Jesus answered that question. “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come . . ." Hey, Jesus, when will the kingdom get here?“Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, (21) nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,’”[5]


     You cannot physically measure it or say it ranges from the “Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” from the “Atlantic to the Pacific,” or “in Jerusalem.” “Why not,” you ask. “Because the kingdom of God is within you." If Jesus manages your life, his kingdom is in you.


Note the chronology of events in Acts 1:


 Jesus said it would soon come with power.


     Acts 2: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.


     Verse 17 This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy of Joel, said Peter. Peter then related the facts of Jesus death, burial and resurrection. He then said to the people present: This Jesus whom you crucified is Lord and Christ. Jesus is in charge now and all people must admit that he is Lord and Christ.


     In verse 37, the people ask, “What shall we do?”


     Acts 2:38, 39: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’”


     You, I, and everyone must fully submit to Christ’s rule and honor God through him. When we place ourselves completely under his rule and demonstrate it by repenting and being baptized into Christ, we become part of his kingdom. The kingdom is present when we allow God’s Spirit and his word to manage and control us as it occurred fully in Jesus.


     So the question: “Is the seed of God’s kingdom growing and living in you?”


     The church is supposed to be the kingdom. But as you know, church buildings are often packed with   people whom God’s Spirit and Word do not control.


     A church usher was instructing a young successor in the details of his office: “Remember, son" he said, "we have nothing but good kind Christians here until you try to seat someone else in their pew."


     How and where does the change begin in people? It does not happen by passing more laws. We do not bring it about by passing laws and commandments. Jesus fulfilled the Law of Moses (the Ten Commandments). If laws made people better, this nation should be perfect, because no country has ever had more laws.The Bible clearly illustrates, and life teaches us, that self-giving love changes people. Jesus fully and unfailingly proved that in his time here.


     Think of all the blame, finger-pointing, acrimony, accusations and allegations resulting from the Florida school shooting. Do you agree that more lives will be changed for the better and more positive things will ensue from the actions of the coach who gave his life and the teachers and the students who gave their lives because they loved others above themselves? 


     The Apostle Paul changed from being a violent zealot to a loving, follower of Jesus. Many think it all occurred on the way to Damascus with the bright light and Jesus appearing. Jesus himself referred to the goading Paul received prior, when he saw Stephen and others die forgiving those who were killing them.


     Paul himself wrote to the church in Colossae (2:13 NIV) “He has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.”


     Spend a few minutes reading about Jesus’ last days on earth. Read the last 3-4 chapters of any gospel. Jesus went through hell to give us heaven. Thank him.  Praise God with all your being. Let God’s sacrificial love, as Jesus demonstrated it, control you. You will see, feel, and know that the kingdom is growing in you    and in those around you.


     You can be sure; Jesus was not mistaken. When Jesus returns to judge everyone justly, all will clearly see that he is fully in charge of the Cosmos and everybody in it.   


     Note the opening lines of the Book of Revelation: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, (5) and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.


      To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (6) and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (7) Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (8) "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."


[1] Louis Xl (1423-1483), French king, The Ultimate Reference Book, p - 310

[2] Matthew 12:28 NIV

[3] Matthew 25:31-34 NIV

[4] Luke 13:19.

[5] (Luke 17:20,21 NIV)



Bob Blair

PO Box176

Cleghorn, IA 51014




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