of Heaven is at Hand
By Ronald G. Currell
St. Stephens Episcopal Church,
Jesus said, "Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Jesus and His Disciples had just returned to Capernaum from the country of the Gadarenes and Levi determined to hold a great party in his home. This is the same Levi Jesus had called, when he was sitting at the table of the receipt of custom. We better know him as Matthew. It was at this party that Jesus first determined to send these twelve out on a mission of their own. It would do them much good. It would prepare them for later.
Now it happened, as He was dining in Matthew's house, that many tax collectors and sinners were there also and they sat together with Jesus and His disciples. These were the friends of Matthew, who had worked with. And many of them now followed Jesus. But when the scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." And later, Jesus said, . " . woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven to others!" So, the evening had its moments
Next day, when Jesus had called His twelve disciples, He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. And Jesus sent them out. Jesus said, "Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He looked across their anxious faces and considered how best to help them. Moments later, He said, "But from whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go your ways out into the streets of that city and say, Even the very dust of your city, we do wipe off our sandals as a sign against you: notwithstanding be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come nigh unto you." And as Jesus considered the recent cities that had not received Him, He said "But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. "
The Kingdom of God had come near, but the religious leaders turned it away. The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of Christ and abides in Him wherever we are gathered together in His name. Let us cultivate the Kingdom in our daily lives and in our worship.
|Just as the people of Sweetwater need different Christian experiences, the various Christian Churches offer different expressions of the same faith. St. Stephens Episcopal Church offers a quiet, respectful hour dedicated to God every Sunday Morning at 11:00 AM, preceded by a thought-provoking Bible Class at 9:45, where we discuss intriguing passages from the Scriptures. Drop by some time. See us on the Internet and experience our online chapel in "Christ Themes" at www.ststephens.net.|
Please make plans to attend your Church-of-choice this coming Sunday.