The Kingdom Deployed
Good morning! If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn to Luke 10. And if you don’t have a Bible, there should be a Bible under the row of chairs in front of you. If you can grab a Bible, we are going to be in Luke 10, this morning.
We are continuing in our sermon series on the Kingdom of God. And so far, we have looked at the inauguration, or the coming, of the Kingdom, we have looked at what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom, we have looked at how the Kingdom is an upside-down Kingdom, we have looked at how it is a Kingdom to be declared, and then, last week, we looked at the Kingdom demonstrated.
The Kingdom of God is not just about words; it’s also about action. And we saw how Jesus demonstrated the Kingdom, in various spheres, during His ministry, ultimately demonstrating that He is King over all.
In Matthew 28:18, as Jesus is about to ascend to heaven, He says to His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
And what this means is that there is nothing in all of Creation that has the power and authority that Jesus has. There is no natural disaster, there is no demonic force, and there is no illness that matches the supremacy of Christ. Not even death has the power and authority that Jesus has.
And what this does is it comforts us in our affliction and fear, because we believe in a God on His throne. We don’t believe that there is a good vs. evil battle going on; we believe that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus.
But then, as we will see from our text, this morning, that same power and that same authority have been given to all those who follow Jesus.
We are nearing November 11, the day when we remember the men and women who, over the years, have fought for the freedom of this country. We remember how Canadian troops have been deployed, over the years, to protect our nation.
One such occasion was June 6, 1944, when Canadian forces were deployed on Juno Beach in the Battle of Normandy. They had one mission and that was to break through the German defences and liberate France from German control.
Many lives were lost that day, but even with all of casualties, their mission was a success. And the deployment of Canadian troops helped with the advancement of the Allied forces against German control.
And in the same way, the Church has been deployed for mission in this world. Our mission is to declare the gospel of the Kingdom and to demonstrate its power against the kingdom of darkness. As followers of Jesus, we carry on the mission of Jesus, in making the authority of Jesus known among the nations.
We don’t build the Kingdom of God, because it’s God’s Kingdom to build, but what the Kingdom deployed means for the Church, is that, as we live as Kingdom citizens, declaring and demonstrating the Kingdom of God, we are cultivating this Kingdom life that makes Jesus the point.
And what we will see, this morning, is that God uses His disciples to reach His Creation with His power. And what I want us to come away with is that God has deployed the Church to help with the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
So, with that, let us look at Luke 10, beginning in verse 1: “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace be to this house!” 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.” 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.’”
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
1. First, God uses His disciples to reach His Creation.
Look at verse 1: “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.”
Just before this, in Luke 9, Jesus sent out His twelve disciples. And their mission was very similar to the mission of the seventy-two: They were to proclaim the Kingdom of God and demonstrate its power to the people they met. But what’s interesting about verse 1, here, is that Jesus sent them ahead of where He Himself was about to go.
Now, the question is: Why would God send mere men to a place that He was about to visit? Why would God want men to go where He was about to go? And the answer is: Because ever since Creation, God has partnered with humanity.
In the beginning, we see God create this good world with all of this potential for good. And God creates this unique Creation, called man, and man becomes God’s partner, in furthering the good that is in the world.
But the unfortunate and recurring story in the history of mankind is that man does not want to partner with God. And instead of working with God, man decides to do their own thing, thus breaking their partnership with God.
Throughout Scripture, we see God partnering with these various individuals in helping to restore God’s goodness in the world. But each one of them fail in their partnership with God, until Jesus.
And Jesus becomes the faithful partner with God that mankind was always intended to be, but failed to be. And once again, mankind is brought into this partnership with God, through Jesus, so that we now work with God in reaching His Creation with the good news about Jesus.
And what makes this so incredible is that our partnership with God is not about us, it’s about God, because Jesus is not some man, He’s God become man. So, Jesus does for us what we could not do, and He becomes the bridge between man and God, so that man and God could be in renewed relationship.
So, the reason why Jesus is sending the seventy-two out, into the towns and villages that He Himself was about to enter, is because it’s God’s way of partnering with humanity to cultivate the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom deployed is a partnership between God and humanity to reach God’s Creation.
And we see what this looks like: The seventy-two were to declare and demonstrate the Kingdom of God. They were to bring the message of peace, that is offered in Jesus, who is our peace, and they were to heal the sick. And as a result, they were to say, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”
People could no longer live blissfully ignorant of Jesus, because they had the Kingdom of God declared and demonstrated to them. They had no excuse. Even those who rejected the messengers were told that “the kingdom of God has come near.”
And what’s so amazing about that, is it reveals that God has not left Himself without a witness. It’s not like the Kingdom of God only comes near to a select people, but that God’s sovereign rule over all things comes near to everyone, even those who will inevitably reject it.
God is sovereign over nature, even if you don’t believe that He is. God is sovereign over illness and disease, and will heal people of such, even if you don’t believe in God or pray for His healing. And it’s because the Kingdom of God continues to advance in the world.
We can either accept or reject the Kingdom of God, but His Kingdom, His rule, continues to advance. And we are citizens of that advance, by the grace and mercy of God.
We need to understand that God can do whatever He wants to do and doesn’t need man to do it. And yet, God chooses to partner with man to do what He wants to do. This has always been the plan of God, ever since the Creation of the world.
And what this does is it pushes back against the fatalistic belief that God is going to save whom He saves, and that I don’t need to go anywhere or do anything for the Kingdom of God, because God can do it Himself.
If there’s one thing I know from Scripture, it’s that, unless followers of Jesus take the gospel of Jesus—that Jesus died and was raised for the forgiveness of sins—to unreached people, they will remain in the kingdom of darkness.
2. So. we must remember our mission: God uses His disciples to reach His Creation.
It’s why Jesus mentions the places that He does in the following verses. Look at verse 13: Jesus says, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16 The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
Jesus pronounces a very significant woe on a place called Chorazin and a place called Bethsaida. These places apparently experienced the words and works of Jesus, but did not repent. In fact, in Luke 9:10-17, Jesus is in Bethsaida when He multiplies the five loaves of bread and two fish, to feed five thousand people.
These places heard the good news about the Kingdom of God and saw the Kingdom demonstrated to them, and their response is rejection of the Kingdom.
This prompts Jesus to say, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” And what is significant about these pronouncements of woe is that neither of these places are around today. They are in ruins.
So, we see what happens when the world rejects the Kingdom of God: judgment. You have heard and you have seen the mighty works of God, how could you reject it? The Kingdom of God has come near, why would we resist it?
And what is so saddening about Jesus’ words here, is that, if the mighty works done in Chorazin and Bethsaida had been done in Tyre and Sidon, Jesus says, “they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.” There would have been instant repentance, if Jesus had gone, elsewhere.
There are unreached people groups in the world—people who have never heard the good news about Jesus. And this is where God has partnered with man to take the gospel to them.
God uses His disciples to reach His Creation. God does not want to see the world condemned to judgment. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
I think that, sometimes, we want Christ to return so badly that we forget about the mission, and instead, focus on what's coming for us. And while there is glory coming for all those who believe—a blessed eternity where we will forever be with Jesus—there is still time for the world to be reached for Jesus Christ.
And until that day, this is our mission. Our mission isn’t to sit and wait for the King to return; our mission is to reach God’s Creation with the gospel of the Kingdom.
And Jesus finishes His rallying cry with the words, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
Do you see how close this partnership between God and man gets? If the world hears us, then they hear Christ. But if the world rejects us, then they reject Christ. And worse, they reject the Father.
3. God uses His disciples to reach His Creation, but look at how much further the partnership goes. Notice how they aren’t sent out in their own power and authority, but in the power and authority of Jesus.
Look at verse 17: “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ 18 And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’”
Obviously, these guys experienced some success while on their mission trip. They come back from the mission that Jesus sent them on, and they come back with joy.
In my second year of Bible College, I went on a missions trip to Vancouver. And one of the things that we got to do was perform a drama at Union Gospel Mission, a place that provides shelter, meals and support, for those struggling with homelessness and addiction in the Metro Vancouver area.
But when we got there, we found out that the preacher was not able to make it, so we were then required to take the whole service. So, we came up with some songs to sing, we had a couple of guys share their testimony, and I was asked by our group if I would to preach, to which I said, “Yes.”
So, we prayed and we did that service to the glory of God, and it came together, perfectly. We saw God move in and through us, in ways that I cannot even describe to you. But the drive back to the hotel, and I will never forget it, was one of utter joy. We had seen God at work and we were excited about it.
So, I know where these guys are coming from, when they return from their mission with joy. They are losing their minds with excitement that the demons are subject to them in the name of Jesus. This is paving the way for Jesus to come into these towns and villages just perfectly. The Kingdom deployed is helping to advance the Kingdom of God.
But here is what we need to remember: It’s not by our own power and authority, that we say and do these things, but by the power and authority of Jesus.
My power and authority doesn’t do anything for me, let alone for the Kingdom of God. Why? Because I have very limited power and authority. In Genesis 1, God created mankind to have dominion over Creation. We were created to care for God’s Creation. That’s as far as our dominion goes.
The moment we step outside of that, and into power and authority of our own, is the moment that we pursue the wrong thing.
And we actually see a really good example of this, in Acts 19. You don’t have to turn there, if you don’t want to, but we see what happens when we try to further the Kingdom of God in our own power and authority.
By this time, God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul. So much so, that anything that Paul touched was being carried away to people who were sick, so that all they had to do was touch whatever Paul touched, and they would be healed. That’s amazing!
And so, what happens is these seven sons of a Jewish high priest named, Sceva, started their own itinerant exorcist ministry. And they would call out these demons, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”
What is really heartbreaking about this story is that they were trying really hard to make a name for themselves, while at the same time, holding on to Jesus. They wanted the spotlight, because they saw the fame that it could get you, with Paul, but they also wanted to keep enough of Jesus in what they were doing.
And that doesn’t work very well, does it? There are many “celebrity pastors,” as they are being called, today, who have these big churches and these grand ministries, and they are trying keep Jesus as the center of what they do, but it is just so tempting to make the success about yourself.
And this certainly isn’t the case for every big name pastor, but what we are seeing so much in the Church, today, is so many of these pastors falling to sexual immorality and financial scandals, because they have made ministry about them and no longer about Jesus.
And when fame becomes more all-consuming to you than the surpassing joy of knowing Christ, then you know that you are trying to do what you are doing in your own power and authority, and not in the power and authority of Jesus.
But listen to what happens when the sons of Sceva try to give their speech to this one man: It says, in verse 15, that “the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”
I love that God decided to have this put into His Word. These guys are forever etched in Scripture, as the guys who tried to cast out a demon from a man, but who instead get beat up and lose their clothes to him.
This is an amazing story, but it also shows us the danger in accomplishing Kingdom work in human power. And this is made clear by the demon’s admission that he knows who Jesus is, and he’s heard of Paul, but who are you? What power and authority do you have? Not much.
You see, when we declare and demonstrate the Kingdom of God to reach God’s Creation, in our own power, we find that we are incredibly lacking.
But the gospel tells a greater story. We are not sent out to reach God’s Creation in our power, figuring this all out on our own, but that God Himself goes with us.
In Matthew 28:18, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” But then, Jesus gives that same authority to His followers: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
And in Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
You will be my witnesses—that’s the Kingdom declared. You will receive power—that’s the Kingdom demonstrated. And that same power and that same authority is ours in Christ Jesus—that’s the Kingdom deployed. We will not find it in ourselves; we will only find it in Christ.
But the point that Jesus is making, is not, “Look at what you can all do with my power,” but rather, “Look at what this power in you means for you.”
Jesus says, in verse 20, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
The real item of joy, when we declare and demonstrate the Kingdom to reach God’s Creation, is not that the darkness is being pushed back at our command, but that this is a sign that our citizenship is not here, but in heaven.
Here is the glory of it all: As we walk this earth, in the profound knowledge that we are saved by the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins, we are both strangers and citizens.
We walk this earth, not comfortable with the way the world is, because the world is foreign to the things of God, and is, therefore, foreign to us. And at the same time, our citizenship is heaven.
And as we wrestle with this tension of living in the world, but not living according to how the world lives, we find ourselves deployed on mission in the world. We find individuals who need to hear and see that the Kingdom is near to them. Regardless of whether they will accept or reject the Kingdom, we bring the Kingdom to them, in a sense.
Jason Gray, a Christian music artist, had a song out a number of years ago, called, With Every Act of Love. And I don’t even know if I completely agree with what he sings in the song, but I thought it was something for us to think about.
Here is how the chorus goes: “We bring the kingdom come, with every act of love. Jesus, help us carry you. Alive in us, your light shines through. With every act of love, we bring the kingdom come.”
Now, I said earlier that we don’t build the Kingdom of God, because it’s God’s Kingdom to build. But how are we cultivating the Kingdom of God in the lives of the people around us?
Are we bringing the Kingdom near to people, just by being around them? Are we sharing with people about God’s rule over all things and His love for all people? Are we going where God wants us to go? Are we speaking what God wants us to speak? Are we bringing the Kingdom, with every act of love, so to speak?
The Kingdom deployed reminds us that God uses His disciples to reach His Creation with His power. The Kingdom of God is advancing. But how are we doing at cultivating its advance in the world? Let’s pray…