Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Begin by praying the Collect for Grace and Collect for Purity.
Collect for Grace:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us safely to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for Purity:
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we might perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Read: Psalm 126, Isaiah 35:3-7, and Luke 7:18-30
John the Baptist, rotting away in prison, got a little worried about whether or not Jesus was going to make good on his promises of a new kingdom. He sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask him about it. “Are you the Coming One, or are we looking for someone else?” they asked.
John wanted Jesus to overthrow Herod and Pilate and spring him out of jail. He, along with all the other Jews, assumed the promised kingdom would be a political entity here on earth.
They were wrong.
Jesus, that very day, took John’s disciples and began doing things. He cast out demons. He healed the lame, the deaf, the lepers, and the blind. He preached good news to the poor. He turned to them and said, “Ok, now go and tell John what you’ve seen and heard today.”
The prophets has written long ago that the Messiah would do all those things. He would heal the blind, the lame, the lepers, and the deaf. He would preach good news to the poor. He would cast out unclean spirits, setting people free. That was how Israel would know that the Messiah had come. That was the Messiah’s mark. When Jesus told John’s disciples to go back to him and report, they would report that he was doing all the signs that the Messiah had been prophesied to do.
Jesus, after they were gone, turned back to those who were gathered around, listening. “You went to be baptized by John for a reason. What was it? Was it because he wears fine clothes? No, you’d go to the palace for that. Was it because you wanted to see grass blowing in the wind? No, you can get that anywhere. Why did you go out there? Because he’s a prophet, that’s why. But let me tell you: although he’s the greatest prophet, he’s nothing compared to those who are in the kingdom.”
And what is the kingdom? And how do we get in it?
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Lk. 17:20b-21, NKJV.)
We who follow Jesus are in the kingdom. The implication is, of course, that we will do all the things that Jesus did for John’s disciples. Not only did he proclaim the kingdom, but he also demonstrated the kingdom. Proclamation and demonstration. They go hand in hand.
So what can we take away from that? Well, if the kingdom is proclamation and demonstration, then we had better get to work. It is a lot easier to encourage people to enter the kingdom when they can actually see some good in it. Besides, Jesus clearly commanded us to serve others. By serving others, even if no words are spoken, we are preaching the Gospel.
Go and preach the Gospel today. Use words if necessary.