The Secret Message of Jesus June 18, 2006 (Father’s Day)
Signs of the Kingdom
You know that song, “I can only Imagine?”
Jeff Carson - I Can Only Imagine Lyrics
I can only imagine,
What it would be like,
When I walk by your side.
I can only imagine,
What my eyes will see,
When your face is before me.
Surrounded by your glory,
What will my heart fear,
Will I dance for you Jesus,
Or in awe of You be still.
Will I stand in Your presence,
To my knees will I fall,
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
Do you ever think of that? Do you ever think of what you will do when we are with Jesus in his Kingdom?
Have you ever though about what you will look like?
When were teenagers we used to sing the old spiritual “we are going to see the King:” “No more cry’n there, we are going to see the king.
Paul describe a little of what we will look like in the resurrection, when The Kingdom of God comes in its fullness.
35-38Some skeptic is sure to ask, "Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ’resurrection body’ look like?" If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a "dead" seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.
39-41You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection "seeds"—who can imagine what the resurrection "plants" will be like!
42-44This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!
45-49We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends.
50I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very "nature" is to die, so how could they "naturally" end up in the Life kingdom?
51-57But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
58With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. – 1 Corinthians 15
When I was a pastor at Parkdale Neighbourhood Church, we had a guy who would come to the church named Jim. PNC was such a small group, that when I shared the sermon, I would usually sit down and talk with the people in a circle. After Jim started to come, I had to stand up to preach, because if I didn’t Jim would. Jim was mentally ill and never on his meds. He was loud, abrasive and threatening, always seemingly on the verge of violence. And Jim was a Christian. His faith was as messed up as his life was, but I believe that he had saving faith. We actually had to ban him from coming to church after awhile. He had made it an unsafe place for all the other broken and hurting people who came. It was a hard decision: “this is a church for broken and hurting people, but you are a little too broken.”
Out on the street, Jim would do something violent every once and a while and get himself thrown in jail. When he would get released, I’d go and pick him up at the Don and bring him back to Parkdale. Because he was forced to take his meds in jail, he would be pretty decent during those times – we’d go get a coffee or a meal and have a decent conversation. I felt like I was talking to the real Jim. Within a week, he be back to looking and acting like the Garasene demoniac.
I am convinced that I’ll meet Jim in heaven, and I used to wonder what he’d look like when I see him there – maybe a bit like how he was coming out of jail, hopefully even better.
A few weeks ago I encouraged you to pray by using the portion of the Lord’s prayer “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” By thinking “what would my home look like if it was in heaven, what would my workplace look like if it was in heaven? What would my neighbourhood, city, country look like if God had his way here like he does in heaven?”
I want to encourage you today that we can pray the same thing for individuals. What would Jim look like in Heaven? “Lord, may your kingdom come, may your will be done in Jim’s life as it is in heaven.”
I visited my neighbour who is dying of cancer this week: “Lord, may your kingdom come, may your will be done in Rosemarie’s life as it is in heaven.”
In heaven, there will be no more sickness, no more war, no more dying, no more addictions, no more sin… “Lord, may your kingdom come, may your will be done in ________’s life as it is in heaven.”
When God answers these prayers for individuals and they are healed we usually call it a miracle. In John’s Gospel, John does not call them miracles he calls the “signs”
When Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding, John says: “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” - John 2:11
When he heals the official’s son from a distance, John writes, “This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.” - John 4:54
Later, John writes, “and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick.” - John 6:2
We often get caught up in the miracle, and it makes sense because we want to see sick people get well, dead people rise again, addicted people freed etc, but all of these things are signs. Signs are never there just for their own sake, they always point to something else.
The miracles that Jesus performed, and still performs are not only there to bless us, they are signs of something larger. They are signs of the message that Jesus brought: “The Kingdom of God is upon you!”
Turning water into wine is a sign that the kingdom of heaven is upon you
Raising a little girl is a sign that the kingdom of heaven is upon you
Enabling a lame man to walk is a sign that the kingdom of heaven is upon you
Freeing someone from demonic power is a sign that the kingdom of heaven is upon you…
Last time I gave you a couple of diagrams that demonstrated different understandings of the coming of the kingdom of heaven
The people of Jesus Day have an understanding about the Kingdom that many Christians still have today. That the Messiah would immediately inaugurate a completed Kingdom. If you diagram it, it looks like this:
The New Testament teaches a modification on this diagram, and it looks like this:
We live at a time when both ages, or both kingdoms hold sway. We live in a age when we can decide which kingdom we can live in.
Often times we have looked at miracles as the age to come breaking through into this age, or the kingdom of heaven breaking through into the kingdom of this world. That is a fine way to look at it. But miracles are also signs to the people live on the lower line to look up and see that there is an upper line. They are signs that God is about redeeming all of creation, that he has a plan for the whole cosmos, and that plan is good!
When God answers our prayers and miraculously heals us or rescues us, it is the kingdom of God coming crashing down on our lives, but it is also a sign, that the kingdom is on the move, gaining ground, and one day it will come in its fullness and redeem not only us and our lives, but redeem all of creation.
This is how McLaren describes it in his book, when he tries to answer the question: “What do the signs point to?”
“Let me answer that with a kind of parable of my own. If you get a glimpse of soldiers in camouflage uniforms sneaking through the forest, if you notice planes from an enemy country flying high above you, if key political leaders in your country disappear or are mysteriously assassinated, you might suspect that an invasion is coming. If bullets start flying and bomb sirens start going off, your suspicions will be fulfilled. Another nation—let’s call it a kingdom—is preparing to invade and conquer your kingdom.
But what if this kingdom that is invading is a kingdom of a very different sort? What if the invasion is one of kindness and compassion rather than force and aggression? What if sick people start getting well suddenly and inexplicably? What if rumors spread of storms being calmed, insane people becoming sane again, hungry people being fed, and dead people rising? Couldn’t this be the sign of a different kind of invasion—the coming of a different kind of kingdom?
That’s how I have come to understand the signs and wonders of Jesus. They are dramatic enactments of his message; they are the message of the kingdom spread in media beyond words. They combine to signify that the impossible is about to become
possible: the kingdom of God—with its peace, healing, sanity, empowerment, and freedom—is available to all, here and now. Signs and wonders unbolt the mechanisms that tell us what is mathematically and practically possible and impossible. They make way for faith that something new, unprecedented, and previously impossible is on the move. They tell us we are being invaded by a force of hope, a group of undercover agents plotting goodness.”
In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the evil queen has Narnia in her power such that it is always winter and never Christmas. When Aslan comes back into the land, even before he does battle with the queen, Santa Claus shows up, the ice starts to melt and spring starts to appear. These are signs that a regime change is on its way in Narnia, the evil queen’s reign is coming to an end.
When we pray for people to be healed, or released from oppression, or set free from wounds of the past and God hears our prayers, it is a sign – a sign that the kingdom of God is among us, and one day it will come to fruition!
We want to spend some time praying for signs of the kingdom in our own lives. If you have need of healing, or another sign of the Kingdom in you life, I’m going to ask you to come forward & we’ll pray for you.
Prayer for environment…