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Sunday, April 18, 2010

4/18/10- Luke 9:21-27 Kingdom Coming

21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
23 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for you to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit your very self? 26 If any of you are ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
27 "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

Here Jesus predicted his death and resurrection, and reminded the disciples about their own spiritual death and resurrection.
He reminded us of our death and resurrection in three ways:
1) We must die to ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow him into death of selfishness and rise in love.
2) We must be willing to lose our lives (die to self) to save our lives (live for Him).
     He reminds them of the lasting value of eternal rewards- if you gain the whole temporary world and lose your eternal soul, it      
      won't do you much good. 
3) We must not be ashamed of his words now (die to embarrassment) or we will be embarrassed in heaven before the Father and     the heavenly host.

Then he ends with an sense of urgency- saying that some standing there right then will see the kingdom of God coming in.
He could be talking about the transfiguration (which happens next in Luke), or the resurrection (which he has just predicted).  Liberal scholars and skeptics think Jesus was thinking he would come again (second coming) immediately after his resurrection- and that he was mistaken.  I think the third option is too skeptical for believers because 1) it doesn't look at the context (the kingdom was declared in a sense coming at his first coming ("Today this has been fulfilled"; "the kingdom is at hand" Lk. 4:18,19,43). 2) it doesn't take seriously the power of God that began changing the disciples and the world at the resurrection.  But Jesus has always wanted his disciples to take God's breaking into their lives more seriously and urgently.  A belief that Jesus may come at any time (whether by death or by second coming), helps us to "live like we are dying."  That is, live in a way as if we will stand before God the next day- that each prayer may be our last; each action may be our last.  Christians today have lost this sense of urgency.  Yet, I am hearing more and more a sense that something is happening in our world- like the huge number of earthquakes (Jesus predicted earthquakes as a sign of his coming Mt. 24:7); or the secularization and turning away of many (Mt. 24:12), or famine and war (Mt. 24:6,7).   In my mind it doesn't matter if Christ is coming today or 1,000 years from now- it is His timing.  I must live with a sense that each moment is a gift- to use and to enjoy from Him.  Using that gift means denying my selfishness and living for love- for Him.

Prayer- Lord, give me grace to live for you.  Give me strength to live as if you were coming today.

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