Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday in Pentecost, Proper 5: The kingdom of God and the cross of Christ

Opening Sentence
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. Habakkuk 2:20

Collect of the Day
O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth: Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 69

Lessons: Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:14Galatians 5:25-6:10Matthew 16:21-28

Millennial views are like bad days. Everybody has one. But no one particular view--be it premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial--is truly adequate to explain the multi-dimensional nature of the coming eschatological kingdom of God. Jesus declared to his disciples, "there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28).

If all that is meant by "the Son of man coming in his kingdom" is the return of Christ in glory at the end of history, then we might have a problem here. Why have believers been waiting over 2,000 years for something Jesus said some of his disciples would seek in their own lifetime? The solution is relatively simple. The kingdom of God is a much larger project than just its final consummation. It is connected not only with Jesus' glory, but also with his suffering. Likewise, it is seen not only in the final triumph of righteousness, but also in the ordeal of righteous suffering at the hands of the fallen world. Jesus connects his glory with his suffering and commands anyone who would come after him to deny himself and take up his cross and follow him (cf. Matthew 16:24). The glory of the Son of Man is inextricably connected with the suffering of the Son of Man. The kingdom of God is inextricably linked with the cross of Jesus Christ.

Jesus' first disciples would "see the Son of man coming in his kingdom" in their lifetime by seeing Jesus "suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised" (Matthew 16:21). Jesus' resurrection was the inaugural event of the kingdom of God. Jesus, after his ordeal of suffering and death, was raised up in glory, vindicated as the true Christ of God, the victorious Son of Man.

The resurrection, however, was only the beginning. Jesus called his disciples to deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow him. They were to continue the work he began. They were to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom of God to all the nations, never being ashamed even to give their lives for their Lord. In Jesus, crucified and risen, they could "see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." Their mission was, and our mission today is, to make others see that kingdom in lives that become an authentic imitation of the crucified and risen Savior.


Crown Him with Many Crowns