St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-03-2016

St. Matthew’s Sermon 07-03-2016

More Than Promised

2 Kings 5:1-14,  Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God. Amen.

Repent; the end is near!

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone shouting those words; either in person, on a news broadcast, by a televangelist, or in some reading; well… let’s just say St. Matthew’s wouldn’t have to worry about paying me a salary and I wouldn’t have to worry about earning one.

It is serious business, I don’t make light of that, but what I do find to be funny is that it has been going on for about 2000 years and every so often someone thinks they have found the secret to figuring out exactly when it will be. And, so far every one of them has been wrong. Yet there are, today, at least 14 dates predicted by that many more people or groups who are certain they have it right this time. By the way, at least 2 of these already had their first predictions pass and are now on their 2nd revision.

As for me, I won’t spend my time trying to figure it out. Whatever God has planned and when he has it planned for is fine with me and I don’t see a benefit to knowing the date. I guess, if you’re convincing enough, you might get some people to repent. But then, when it doesn’t happen as predicted, you not only lose those, but you push farther away any who weren’t willing to hear in the first place.

 I bring this up, however, to highlight some of the failures of our ability to understand the Bible and put that understanding to good use.

Case in point: As Jesus sends the 70 out into the villages ahead of him he tells them to “…heal the sick and say to them ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”

So often modern readers, when they hear the phrase ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’, envision either Heaven being within reach, or the imagery of Revelation describing “…the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God”, as a Golden City descending on earth.

But what the disciples were instructed to preach was a lot more immediate and a lot more tangible than that. The ‘King’ himself was near… and coming their way! They would soon be able to reach out and touch him! The Kingdom was so near that the effect of his new rule had already reached them! The proof; the sick were healed and demons were cast out in his name!

On the surface, then, the message “The Kingdom has come near” signals, not something somewhere in the future, rather, here and now! This, now, is the beginning of the end of the old age and the dawning of the new age. They way things have always been is changing to the way things will be. Life filled with constant struggle against sickness and evil is being converted to life full-filled with salvation! That is on top in this story! But there is so much more detail about what is to be found in that fulfillment!

As I read the story again, I noticed two statements that are enhanced by two other statements. ‘Paired’ verses like these are quite common in ancient writing, hence common in the Gospels, and they’re a writing technique that helps the author convey more detail in a narrative form.

The first: As Jesus is sending out the 70, he says “See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” It sounds ominous; a warning that these “lambs” must go out and spread the word among a hostile crowd. They will be accepted by some, he further explains, but they will be rejected by others. Perhaps, not only rejected but possibly persecuted.

Yet by the end of the story, as they return and report about their mission, we hear him say to them “See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.”

The second pair is found in between those verses: Jesus tells the 70 to “ …cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ It can be safely assumed that Jesus has given them the power of healing but it cannot be assumed that they fully trusted in having that power. Yet they go out as he commands and when they return they’re excited and say joyfully, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”

Why didn’t Jesus tell the disciples he had given them “…authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you” while he was warning them of wolves before he sent them out? And how is it that he tells them to heal the sick yet they actually end up even being able to cast out demons?

In the first, Jesus warns them of wolves but they all return safely. There’s a surprise for them, they have been given protection from even snakes and scorpions… nothing will hurt them! They were given more than they were promised!

In the second, they were given the power to heal the sick but discover that they can even cast out demons! They were given more than they were promised!

And at the end Jesus tells them to “…rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” To them, in that day, the Kingdom is at hand; literally! The king is standing in front of them! They have the ability to reach out and touch him; to embrace him and the salvation that comes in his name! But now he tells them that their names are known in heaven! Again, they are given more than they were promised! They certainly have reason to rejoice!

Luke didn’t record a single name of the 70 who were sent out; soon they were lost to the passing days and years. It might be nice for us to know who they were and even a little bit about their lives after the resurrection. But for them it surely doesn’t matter; for today not only are their names known in heaven, they are known in the presence of God. They lived their earthly life as witnesses to the new kingdom and now reside in the promised eternal life.


 Although it hasn’t yet come to its fullest potential, as Christians, we live in the Kingdom; right here, right now! And in this hour, as the gathered Church, we know the joy of experiencing life in God’s fellowship. Having accepted the salvation we were offered we have received all that is promised, by Christ, to those who believe! And our names are written in heaven! We certainly have reason to rejoice!

And even that is only the beginning! We, too, can be given more than we are promised in this life and in the next! Live each day expecting to be joyfully surprised!



Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
10:2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
10:3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.
10:4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.
10:5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’
10:6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.
10:7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.
10:8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you;
10:9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
10:10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say,
10:11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
10:16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
10:17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
10:18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.
10:19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.
10:20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”


2 Kings 5:1-14
5:1 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the LORD had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy.

5:2 Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.

5:3 She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

5:4 So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said.

5:5 And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments.

5:6 He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

5:7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

5:8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”

5:9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house.

5:10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.”

5:11 But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy!

5:12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage.

5:13 But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

5:14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.


Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16
6:1 My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Take care that you yourselves are not tempted.

6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

6:3 For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.

6:4 All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor’s work, will become a cause for pride.

6:5 For all must carry their own loads.

6:6 Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.

6:7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.

6:8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

6:9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.

6:10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

6:11 See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand!

6:12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised–only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.

6:13 Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh.

6:14 May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

6:15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!

6:16 As for those who will follow this rule–peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.