Kingdom Come!!

Thy Kingdom Come

Looking at one of my favorite passages in the Bible this morning. I’m sure I’ve done this before, but there’s a lot to be said about this section of scripture, and this is just where I’m led today.

In Luke 24, after the resurrection of Jesus. It’s been a long week for the followers of Jesus. They entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday expecting a showdown which would result in Jesus being crowned King of the Jews. They already had a king, King Herod, but he was just an imposter, the official puppet king of the Roman Empire.

HerodtheGreat2
They had gone to Jerusalem with such high hopes. They believed in Jesus, believed he WAS the Messiah, the savior, the one who would rescue them from Roman domination. But things had gone so very wrong, one of the twelve had betrayed Jesus, making it possible for the temple police to come and arrest him under the dark of night and not start a riot (did you not know that Jesus was VERY popular?). From that point it was very easy for the temple officials and priests to manipulate the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and use the crowds in Jerusalem to get what they wanted – the end of Jesus.

Baburen_Arrest
So Jesus had his sham trials and was crucified that Friday morning, and was dead and buried by Friday night. Now it was late Sunday afternoon, and it was time to get back to life for his followers. Jesus mission to Jerusalem had failed. There had been rumors that day of same strange happenings and goings-on, but it still seemed as if all their hopes had died with Jesus that Friday.

Emmaus-Road
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. What is it about the resurrected Jesus that even those followers who had been closest to him – think Mary Magdalene at the tomb, even John, Peter, and the rest of the eleven by the shore of Galilee, and also these disciples here – did not recognize him? These disciples are walking along the road, the road of life, talking about Jesus and all the happenings in Jerusalem of the past few days. They had believed in Jesus, they were among his followers, they knew Jesus. Yet they were so wrapped up in their conversations about Jesus and all that had happened that they could not recognize him when he was walking right beside them.

jerusalem
And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Jesus even speaks to them, and they don’t recognize him.

jm_200_NT2.pd-P21.tiff
And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” They don’t recognize Jesus standing next to them, but they surely gave a pretty good grasp of what’s gone on regarding him the past few days. These were not časual followers, they were not uninterested observers. Clearly they were serious followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel.

oh foolish ones
And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. They were serious followers of Jesus, but Jesus has to tell them ‘You don’t know your Bible very well, do you?’ It’s too bad we don’t see what exactly Jesus shared here, but it says he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So maybe he shared the story of Joseph, maybe he told how Joseph had been rejected by his brothers, had suffered that rejection, suffered being thrown in the pit and imprisoned for sins he did not commit, yet stayed true to the father and ultimately was seated at the right hand of Pharaoh, 2nd in command of the most powerful empire in the world. And Joseph, when his brothers who had rejected came in dire need and in danger of starvation, did not seek vengeance but instead showed mercy to his brothers.

david-spares-sauls-life
Maybe he shared the story of David, who had to suffer under King Saul, yet when he had the chance to kill him, he too showed mercy. Of course, much later, it was David who needed and sought mercy from the Lord for the evil he had done, and of course he received mercy, because as Jesus himself had taught, “”Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬.
It says he started with Moses, who was rejected by his own people, lived in hiding in the wilderness for forty years, all but forgotten before God used him. He probably talked about Isaiah, who told us that Messiah would be a suffering servant, and Zechariah, who said the coming king would be pierced.

broke the bread
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. So now their walk is at an end, their time with the stranger is coming to a close. He is going to walk further, but they ask him to stay, the night is coming soon. So he stays, a welcome dinner guest, but at some point the guest becomes the host. Maybe he asks, maybe he doesn’t, but he takes the bread, blesses the bread, he breaks the bread. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. They had walked at least two hours with Jesus, walking and talking and listening. But these two disciples of Jesus, even though they had known him in life, did not recognize the resurrected Christ. He walked with them, he talked with them, he shared from the Bible with them. But they did not recognize him until he blessed and broke the bread. Then, just like that, he was gone.

breaking bread
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” Now they see that it was Jesus walking with them all along, listening to them, sharing the scriptures with them, comforting them. It was only after the fact that they knew it was Jesus. There are times in our own lives that we encounter Jesus on the road, but just like these Emmaus Road disciples we almost never recognize Him until after the fact, after it’s over. It is almost always in hindsight that we can look back and say to ourselves ‘Yes, that was Jesus.’ But we also encounter Jesus in the bread of our shared sacrament, the ‘breaking of the bread.‘ And also just like these Emmaus Road disciples, we can almost always recognize Him in that breaking of the bread. We encounter Jesus both in our own surprising stories and in our shared sacrament.

fills all things
On the road of our lives, just like Easter Sunday on the Emmaus Road, CHRIST IS RISEN!! He is alive and risen, not just a dying man resuscitated, but a dead man resurrected. He went into death, fully experiencing all it means to die a physical death. But God the Father raised him in glory on the third day, vindicating his sinless life and his “Jesus Way” of co-suffering love and unlimited forgiveness. In doing so, he also destroyed sin and death, and us capable of being present to all people all the time. “And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.” Ephesians‬ ‭1:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬.

resurrected
Because he is resurrected and alive!!!, Jesus will remain unpredictable to us. We can, and should, expect to encounter him in unexpected ways. He will come to us in the kindness of strangers, and certain providential circumstances. The body of Christ is sometimes the embodied presence of Jesus, bringing exactly what we need. We will understand later that it was Jesus at work.
Encountering Jesus on the road of life is unscheduled, hard to recognize, and uncommon. We all have these moments, but for most of us, we can count them on one hand. But – we can encounter Jesus on a regular basis, and know we are encountering him as we do it. This is done through sacrament – or in the breaking of the bread.

road of life
We can encounter Jesus on the road, and when we do we will be surprised. It doesn’t happen often. It is individual, rare and unscheduled – we almost never see Him coming.
Or, we can encounter Jesus in the bread, and this is communal, common and scheduled. We never have to miss it, in fact. Many churches do it every worship service. Many do it monthly, some less frequently.
However often, every time we break the bread as He taught us, we know we are encountering Christ. And learning to recognize Him in the bread can only help us to recognize him on the road. Connecting with sacrament, intentionally, helps open our eyes and connects us to what we sometimes miss on the road of life.
And yes, Jesus IS in that bread which we break and that wine which we drink. He is both in the bread and in the cup. It is NOT mere symbolism. It IS sacred mystery. We can not explain, nor do we try. But we do confess. That is because we are sacramental and not secular. We will explain that which we can explain but we will simply confess far more than we can ever explain. And sometimes in the life of faith, confession is far more important than explanation.

cup of blessing
The apostle Paul tells us “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Paul has every chance to tell us that this is mere symbol, but he does not. In fact the word he uses here is translated as “participation” means far more than that. It means fellowship, communion, joining in, sharing, giving together. We are joining together with Christ in his broken body and spilled blood. Just like these Emmaus Road disciples, it is in the breaking of the bread that we can join together with Christ even today.
Jesus Himself had a lot to say on this in John chapter 6 after feeding the 5000. “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”” John‬ ‭6:48-51‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Are you following? Our ancestors ate manna from heaven, yet they all perished. Jesus is the bread from heaven which all can eat from and never perish.

death-of-Jesus
Continuing on, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” John‬ ‭6:53‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood…we have no life in us. The flesh of Jesus is both human and divine. Jesus’ blood is both human and divine. Again, don’t try to explain it. But Jesus tells our problem right here – we have no life in us. We are dead in our sins. We are sick. Why, when Jesus tells us so often that we are sick, are we simply looking for a lawyer? We need a doctor, the great physician Himself. Jesus gives us the cure for our sickness, it is his body and his blood. This is the cure for the disease of death that flows through us. We receive this through the bread and wine of communion.

crucified
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:54-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬. The Kingdom of God has come. These Emmaus Road disciples thought that because Jesus was killed, the kingdom did not come. They were wrong. The true Kingdom had arrived. But – this meant big changes for the world as they knew it. Up until this point, the kingdom of God had come through the temple, and it’s whole system of hierarchy and domination.

temple
After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the kingdom no longer comes through a temple, but a table. There are no longer the ever shrinking circles of exclusion of the temple. There is no hierarchy or domination (no matter how hard we try to bring that back). There is always more room at the table. We might feel it’s getting a little crowded, maybe we try to squeeze some out, especially those people. Jesus just says ‘stop that’ and tells you to move over. Because there’s always more room at the table, and all who want to come are welcome.

table of christ
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:19-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Communion is not symbol, its sacrament. Where in the words of Jesus (or Paul) does anyone get the idea that it’s only symbolic? This is a sacred mystery given to us by Christ himself. I don’t understand it, I don’t try to understand it, I don’t have to understand it. But I do believe and confess it, just like I believe and confess that Jesus Christ is the true Son of God who died so that my sins might be forgiven.
The communion table, the center of the Kingdom of God come to earth. All are welcome, and there’s always room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:13-35‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/luk.24.13-35.esv

John Lewis

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2 thoughts on “Kingdom Come!!

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