Last two days I've received words of appreciation for the devotionals coming back online.
I appreciate your appreciation.
1Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money - not even an extra tunic. 4Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." 6They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
7Now Herod the ruler heard about all that had taken place, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some thatJohn had been raised from the dead, 8by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the ancient prophets had arisen. 9Herod said, "John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?" And he tried to see him.
10On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done. He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. 11When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.
12The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place." 13But he said to them, "You give them something to eat." They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish - unless we are to go and buy food for all these people." 14For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, "Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each." 15They did so and made them all sit down. 16And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.
There is a lot going on here in this passage -- demons and diseases, healing and Herod, loaves and fish -- enough to get a little dizzy from the details.
But the details all fit into a larger picture. Even Herod's perplexity and his desire to see (and apprehend) this Jesus fits into a larger picture.
That larger picture is the Kingdom of God Inaugurated by Jesus. Basileia tou Theou/Kingdom of God is many things but the primary thing is that Jesus the Messiah/King has come to announce and demonstrate the Inbreaking of God's Reign upon Earth. Something radical changed with the coming of Jesus. The radical change that is now upon Earth is the new way that God will move upon this Earth. Through the Presence and Power of the Spirit, Jesus ushered or inaugurated a New Age which is also called the End Times.
The definitive sign and seal of God's Inbreaking will be Jesus' Resurrection and the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But the Inauguration of the Inbreaking has already occurred with the Incarnation and the Ministry of Jesus.
So what does this Inbreaking of God's Kingdom look like? Just from this particular passage (Luke 9:1-17), several things can be noted:
(1) In God's Kingdom, power and authority in Jesus' name is exercised by believers. Healing and deliverance are to be common signs of the Inbreaking. Healing and deliverance, in other words, are expected outcomes or manifestations of God's Reign. They are the norm. The abnormal is their absence.
(2) In God's Kingdom, believers "travel light," meaning they live with the light burden of being loved and taken care of by God the Father. Jesus' instruction about not carrying many things is a physical representation of a spiritual, dependent way of walking with God. God provides and we can live simply, worry-free within the provisions of God's abundant Kingdom.
(3) In God's Kingdom, worldly powers energized by dark forces as represented by Herod (certainly a demonized man from historical records) will set themselves against Christ and Christ's Body, the Church. Spiritual warfare is not make-believe; it's real.
(4) In God's Kingdom, physical limitations are not ultimate limitations. Miracles are not magicians' tricks. Miracles, like the multiplication of the loaves and fish, are demonstrations of God's Love that breaks through the everyday limitation of what is possible and impossible. Physical limitations give way to supernatural breakthroughs, in God's Kingdom. And we are invited to do this, as alluded to by Jesus' command to his disciples, "You give them something to eat" (v.13).
As we reflect on this radical change brought about by Jesus in the language of the Kingdom of God or God's Reign, let us beencouraged, mightily encouraged today.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you that you ushered in the Kingdom of God. No longer is the kingdom of darkness the only kingdom or power on this earth. But a greater kingdom and power is at hand. And this kingdom manifests itself as your people exercise what they have been given. So today we exercise our God-given gifts and responsibility. We command in Jesus' name that sickness be gone from ___________ . We command in Jesus' name that demons of ____________ be bound in ___________ . We pray for ourselves that we leave our heavy burdens of worry, doubt, and anxiety at the foot of the Cross and we look to you and receive your light burden of trust and loving you, knowing that we will be loved and cared for. Strengthen our hearts today. Clear our thoughts today. Bless our lives and our loved ones today. In Your Name, Amen.