This Is Not A Toothless-Incapable-Incompetent-Puny-Scrawny-Passive-Weak Kingdom

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It’s coming.  It is drawing near.  It is invading.

What is coming, drawing near, and invading?

In our Gospel reading from today, we hear Jesus saying in the opening portion of the Gospel of Mark that the Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near and is now at hand!  Yes, it is fair to say that there was no more waiting for the people of the first-century, for the Kingdom of God had invaded this world and was standing in their midst.  The Kingdom of God was staring them in the face proclaiming a powerful salvific message to them.

But we may say to ourselves, “This does not sound like a kingdom at all!”

Dear friends, the Kingdom of God is not like any ordinary kingdom that is restricted to geographical borders, military armies, and the like.  The Kingdom of God exists in a completely different way and is revealed in a completely different manner.  You see, the Kingdom of God, which is announced by Jesus, is actually Jesus Himself.  That is to say, “The Kingdom of God is present in its fulfillment in the person, Word and work of Jesus.”[1]  Therefore, where you find the Kingdom of God, you will find the King; where you find the King, you will find the Kingdom of God.  Furthermore, while the kings and the kingdoms of this world depend on physical territories, earthly resources, and dominance through worldly wisdom and energy, the Kingdom of God on the other hand is from outside of this world and is not dependent upon the ways, resources, and schemes of mankind.

To get back to the main point though, in our Gospel reading from today it is clear that that the Kingdom of God is at hand, it has drawn near to the people, which means that there is no more anticipation necessary.  The Kingdom of God—with all of its power, grace, and glory—is there in the midst of the people in Galilee and is even pressing inward towards them; it is upon them as King Jesus is before them preaching into their ears, hearts, minds, and souls. 

This bursting forth of the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus is not some sort of feeble invasion where nothing happens though.  That is to say, the coming and drawing near of the Kingdom of power, grace, and glory does stuff; it is not some toothless-incapable-incompetent Kingdom that merely takes up residence in a foreign territory while not imposing or bringing forth its ruling power and influence.  But rather, the Kingdom of God reaches out and into the lives of people in order to deliver something.  That something is not merely all the miracles and healings, but mainly repentance and faith.

For sure, the Kingdom of God not only collided with the kingdoms and people of the first-century, but it also collides with you and me this very day in this very church, thus creating an explosion of repentance and faith in and for you.  There is no doubt about it that from Christ’s churches—this church located here in Gwinner, ND—that our little empires established by our old Sinful Adam are confronted with power, grace, and the glory of the Lord.  The invasion of the Kingdom of God into our midst and into our time and space, results in the working and gifts of repentance and faith to and for us.  That’s right, the Kingdom of God came to the world when Christ was born in a manger; the Kingdom of God came in our Gospel Reading when Jesus walked into Galilee proclaiming; and the Kingdom of God comes right into our midst this very day, specifically in the Word, the Water, the Bread, and the Wine. 

Where is the Kingdom?  Where can it be found?  It is where Jesus is.

Where is Jesus today and right now?  He is before you and me in the Word, the Water, the Bread, and the Wine—just as He promised to be. 

This means that when we were baptized, when we confess and hear the pardoning words of absolution, when we hear the Word of God read and proclaimed, and when we are fed the bread and wine, we are not only certain that the Kingdom of God is in our midst, but we are also gifted and embraced by repentance and faith.  In and by the Word and Sacraments we are reduced to nothing but beggars, yet by this God given faith the old Adam is slain yet again as we are raised anew.  This is so because the King achieved victory at the Cross and thus gives that very grace, power, truth, and glory to us here and now.

This Kingdom and Lord are not a puny-scrawny-passive-weak Kingdom and King.  Rather, the Kingdom and this King grant and enact repentance and faith to you and to me, as the kingdom and all of its benefits draw near to us today, tomorrow, and until the very end. 

But this makes it sound like we cannot repent and believe by our own reason or strength.  You, who have ear, this is indeed what you should be hearing!  Keep in mind that you and I cannot repent and believe by our own reason and power.  That’s right, repentance and faith are not, I repeat, not the actual good news of the Gospel, but rather they are the results of what happens when the Kingdom of God collides with you and me.  Otherwise stated, the Kingdom of God has come and will continue to come to you and me so that we are repented and faithed. 

Dear friends do not be deceived into thinking that repentance and faith are something that you conjure up and bring to the table, as if repentance and faith are your works that you must present to the Lord in exchange for His kingdom of power, grace, and truth.  It is not a two-way barter system where you exchange repentance and faith for grace and mercy.  If this were the case, would you ever be certain that you have truly repented and truly believed in the Lord; have you done it well enough?  If repentance and faith are your efforts and your individualistic contributions to Christianity, would you ever have enough assurance that you have given it your all?  Can you completely repent and completely believe with all your heart, soul, and mind? No, you cannot and I can’t either.  Undeniably, eternal assurance is never possible if repentance and faith are the work of mankind, for you would only have assurance as long as you could keep and maintain repentance and faith by your own strength and afford it by your own merit.  You and I bring ‘nothing’ to the table!  Repentance and faith are not your work and my work.  They must be gifts that are given to us! 

Praise be to God that repentance and faith are indeed gifts, things that happen to you as the Holy Spirit through the Law and Gospel works upon you.  Truly, repentance and faith need to happen to you and me.  You need to be repented and faithed. Not just once, not just twice, but these gifts of repentance and faith are constantly needed as long as you shall live, for you and I are sinners until the day we die, sinners whom constantly receive the Kingdom of God that comes to us in this life and ultimately at the end of the age.  In other words, repentance and faith are not onetime events.  You are not filled up with a limited amount of repentance and faith and then left to ration it out.  No, the life of a Christian is Law and Gospel; repentance and faith, the one to continue as long as the other.  The gifts of repentance and faith are to continue throughout your lives as they are granted to you by the Holy Spirit working through the Word.  Our lives are not only captive to the Word of God, but totally dependent on the Word of God.

You, who have ears, hear the Lord’s Word of Law!  ‘Repent,’ the Kingdom of God is before you! “Look into the mirror of God’s standards of perfection and know that you don’t and can’t measure up. Feel the sorrow and sadness that flow from a broken and contrite heart. Know the grief of having offended your holy God.”[2] 

You, who have ears, hear the Lord’s Word of Gospel! ‘Believe in the good news,’ the Kingdom of God is before you!  Know that Jesus Christ lived and died and rose—especially for you.  Yes you!  Christ and the Kingdom of God—that which you pray for in the Lord’s Prayer—has come to you in the midst of sin, death, the devil, and the world.  The Kingdom of God is at hand and the King comes for you in the waters of your baptism, in the very Word of God, in the Bread, and in the Wine.  He comes for all of you—nothing left out, nothing of you left behind—all of you with Him, together and forever. 

Repented and faithed into the Kingdom of God!  Yes, you have been repented into the kingdom of God; you have been faithed into the kingdom of God.  The kingdom is for you for it has drawn near to you; His gifts of forgiveness, grace, mercy, glory, and power are yours today, tomorrow, and forever. 

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] Harold Buls, “Buls Notes on the New Testament.” (23 January 2015)

[2] Wendland, E. H., & Albrecht, G. J. (1987). Sermon Studies on the Gospels (ILCW Series B) (p. 127). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

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