October 21, 2018

The Kingdom Demonstrated

Passage: Luke 8:22-56

Good morning! If you have a Bible, I invite you to turn to Luke 8. 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 8.

We are continuing, this week, in our sermon series on the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God, as we have seen in Scripture, is the sovereign rule of God, through Jesus Christ, which is both a present reality and a future hope.

When Jesus came into the world, He brought good news of great joy for all people. He brought hope and peace and joy and love, and He went to the cross to pay the penalty for sin, so that all who believe in Jesus would be saved.

But as we look around at the world, we are reminded that things just aren’t right. There's illness, there’s death, there's persecution, there's natural disaster. And we might look at all these things and we might question the complete rule and reign of Christ over all things.

But what all of this does is it reminds us that everything in all of creation groans for the redemption to come, when Christ will return to consummate His Kingdom.

There is coming a day when all of the wrong and all of the hurt and all of the pain, that we see in the world, will be made right by King Jesus, because we believe in a God on His throne.

Things might look out of control from our perspective, but we believe that God is ultimately sovereign over all things, and that all things have been put in subjection to Jesus Christ.

The day has not yet come when the King of the Kingdom will return. But until that day, we see glimpses of the Kingdom of God, breaking through the ordinary, as sin loses its grip, as people are miraculously healed, and as the Church continues to break down the gates of hell all over the world.

This is the Kingdom of God. If you have put your faith in Jesus, then you are a citizen of this Kingdom. We are not saved by any works done by us, but through the perfect work of Christ on the cross. And through Christ and Christ alone, we are becoming Kingdom citizens that reflect the King of the Kingdom.

This is the Kingdom to which we belong, and it’s the Kingdom that we declare to all people. That’s what we looked at, two weeks ago.

Jesus went around declaring the Kingdom of God to all people, inviting all people to believe in the good news of the Kingdom. And the Church continues to do this, because everyone, everywhere, needs to hear the good news about Jesus.

But the Kingdom of God isn’t just about words. It’s also about action. When I ask Liam to do something for me, it’s all fine and good if he says, “Sure.” I like it when he acknowledges what I’m saying to him. But if Liam never actually does what I ask him to do, then what good is that?

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 4:20, writes, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”

When Jesus came to earth to bring the message of the gospel of the Kingdom of God, He did not just talk about what the Kingdom of God was, He demonstrated it. Through the work of Jesus, we see the power of the Kingdom of God.

And so, this morning, we are going to look at the Kingdom demonstrated. We are going to look at four specific ways that Jesus demonstrates the power of the Kingdom of God, ultimately, demonstrating that Jesus is King over all.

So, if you have your Bible opened to Luke 8, we will begin in verse 22: “One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they set out, 23 and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. 24 And they went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’”

1. The first demonstration of the power of the Kingdom is that Jesus is King over nature.

This past week, Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle, causing flooding and severe damage. This year has been one of the worst years for forest fires in B.C. and California. This last December, our family was in Hawaii, just feet away from an active volcano that has since erupted, causing more than 1,700 evacuations.

All over the world, there are tornadoes, floods, fires and earthquakes. You can’t watch or listen or read the news without there being something about a natural disaster happening somewhere in the world. It’s everywhere. But according to our text, even nature submits to the authority of King Jesus.

Look at the text: Jesus gets in a boat with His disciples and says to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So, they sail out. And Jesus eventually falls asleep. And as Jesus is sleeping, a windstorm comes upon them, and the boat begins to fill up with water.

Now, some of Jesus’ disciples were experienced fishermen. They lived out at sea, catching fish and just being out in the water. So, they knew what a storm was. And yet, what do they do? They panic, right? They believe that they are in danger; they think that they are going to die.

Meanwhile, where’s Jesus? He’s asleep in the boat. The world is crashing around them, and Jesus is sleeping. If I’m one of Jesus’ disciples, I’m not very pleased. Like, doesn’t Jesus care about what is happening? Doesn’t Jesus care about the well-being of His own disciples? Of course, He does.

In fact, the reason why they are going across the lake in the first place is because of Jesus. He’s the one who said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” So, yes, Jesus does care about their well-being. But do we believe that?

You see, when natural disasters happen, whether it’s the Fort MacMurray fire or whether it’s Hurricane Michael or whatever it might be, often, our response is: Why didn’t God stop it? Was He asleep? Where was God when this happened?

And the answer is that God is in the boat. God knows full-well what is happening, He cares deeply about what we are going through, because God is with us.

God is not some abstract Being who simply created the world and stepped back to watch it all play out. No, the glorious message of the gospel is that God wanted to get close to His Creation, so He became a man, in the Person of Jesus Christ, and made His dwelling among us.

Christianity is the only religion which teaches that God became man and dwelt among His Creation. He has experienced what each one of us has experienced. He has felt what each one of us has felt. He became one of us. So, if you want to know where Jesus is, in disaster, He’s right in the middle of it.

In out text, the world is crashing around Jesus and He is asleep, not because He doesn’t care and not because He doesn’t know what's going on, but because it doesn’t faze Him.

Look at what the disciples do: They go and they wake up Jesus. They say to Jesus, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” In other words, “We are helpless. We can’t fix our situation. If something doesn’t change now, we will die.”

What does Jesus do? It says, “He awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.”

And this prompts the disciples’ question: “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

The answer: The Creator of the winds and the water. That’s who. The One by whom and for whom and through whom all things were created has the authority to command the winds and the water. I don’t think that’s a problem for Jesus.

This is the same Creator who caused the wind to blow and the water to part, so that the Israelites could make it through the Red Sea. This is the same Creator who caused a storm to come upon the boat that Jonah was in, which would involve a big fish swallowing Jonah up, carrying him to Nineveh, so that he would preach the gospel to the Ninevites.

The disciples were right to come to Jesus in their distress, because He is the Author of the wind and the water, but they came to Jesus in fear. So, Jesus asks them, “Where is your faith?” They were expecting the boat to go down and them to die, and Jesus is saying, “Do you know who I am? I created all of this. I hold all of this together. Don’t you trust me?”

And it’s the same question that each one of us is presented with, today? We see all of this disaster around us, which causes us to fear. But why should we fear when the King is near? We talk about Mother Nature and how she has a mind of her own, but we should really be talking about the King on His throne.

Jesus demonstrates the power of the Kingdom by calming the raging sea. Jesus shows us that He is King over nature.

2. Secondly, Jesus demonstrates the power of the Kingdom by showing that He is King over the demonic forces.

Look at verse 26: “Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.’”

I just want to pause here. Notice how the demons address Jesus. Notice how the demons don’t come to Jesus, ready to do battle; they come to Jesus and they bow before Him. There is no battle between Jesus and the demonic forces. They give up, immediately, because they know who Jesus is.

There are people in the world who don’t believe that the Jesus of the Bible ever existed, and the demons, who oppose anything to do with God, not only believe that Jesus existed, but they are fearful of Jesus, because of who Jesus is.

And yet, even though the demons believe that Jesus is the Son of the Most High God, they don’t believe in Jesus, if that makes sense. They have an intellectual faith in Jesus—they know about Jesus—but they don’t know Jesus.

James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” The demons know about God, but they don’t know God. This is an intellectual faith in Jesus with no real belief in who Jesus is.

And what is so terrifying, is that, this is where many professing Christians are at. They believe all these neat things about Jesus, and all the things that Jesus did while He was on this earth, but they don’t actually know Jesus. And what I pray for this church is that we would know Jesus, and not just know about Jesus.

Verse 29: “For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Legion,’ for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.”

“34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”

What I love about this passage is that Jesus is clearly shown as King over demonic forces—the fact that the demons ask Jesus’ permission to be cast into the pigs and not into the abyss, makes this perfectly clear—but who are the people actually afraid of? Jesus.

Verse 37 says that the people wanted Jesus to depart because they were afraid. Jesus just cast out a bunch of demons from a man, who now has clothes on and a right mind, and they have the audacity to be afraid of Jesus.

I mean, if people’s pigs are going to keep dying, as a result of Jesus casting out demons, I can see how that might be bad for business. But what we see here is a people who don’t know Jesus. They know about what Jesus did, but they don’t know Jesus for who He really is.

And the one who gets the Kingdom of God is the one who had the power of the Kingdom demonstrated on him, in all of these demons being cast out of him. It’s nothing that he did and everything that Jesus did for him.

This guy pleads with Jesus to go with Him, but Jesus’ response is for him to go and declare how much God has done for him. And this guy now becomes a walking and talking demonstration of the power of the Kingdom of God. What a testimony that is. “Hey, you’re the guy who was demon-possessed, right?” “Yeah, I am. But I know Someone greater than demons. Let me tell you about Jesus.”

And Jesus is once again revealed as King, not just over nature, but also over demonic forces. Jesus is not sitting on His throne, wondering how He will win the battle against Satan and his demons; King Jesus has already won.

3. So, the power of the Kingdom is demonstrated in Jesus as King over nature and over demonic forces. Thirdly, Jesus is King over disease.

Look at verse 40: “Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus' feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.”

“As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, ‘Who was it that touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!’ 46 But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.’ 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’”

For those of us who have been dealing with ailments for twelve years or more, I’m sure you can imagine how sweet this would be. But I just want to lay out for us why this would have been a big deal to this woman.

In the book of Leviticus, the book of the Bible where we see God’s laws for His people, in chapter 15, we see laws about bodily discharges. And it says that any woman who had a discharge would be considered unclean, and therefore anything she touched or anything she sat on, would also be considered unclean.

And why I mention this is because this woman would have been socially ostracised for this disease. She would not have been able to go anywhere, she would not have been able to touch anything, and she likely would not have even been married. She would have been considered an outcast. This would have been her life for twelve years.

And all she does is touch Jesus, and the discharge is gone. It’s no more. She feels this, immediately. Twelve years of being an outcast because of something wrong with your body, and one touch from Jesus heals you.

And here is why this is so significant, as it pertains to Jesus: If you look at Leviticus 15, again, it says that once a woman had been cleansed of her discharge, she was to take an offering to the priest, and the priest would take her offering and make atonement for her before the Lord.

And what's amazing is that, rather than needing to go to the priest, Jesus, the true Priest, comes to her, and meets her in her affliction, and heals her, and makes atonement for her on her behalf.

The text says that her faith made her well. And this is more than just physical wellness; this is spiritual wellness that she receives, because she trusted her disease to Jesus.

All the years and all the money spent on physicians, trying and trying to be healed of her ailment, and one touch of Jesus does it. When everyone else failed, she left it in the hands of the One who does not fail. And where man struggles for twelve years to heal this woman, all it takes is one touch of Jesus, and she receives the healing that she has been longing for.

Now, I want to hear me, because I feel like this is a big thing within Christian circles: This does not mean that God can’t or doesn’t heal you through physicians. I think we are prone to put doctors and Jesus at odds with each other, as though they can’t go together.

But in reality, Jesus can and does use doctors and medicine to heal people. They're not at odds. And we would be foolish to think that if God is going to heal me, then He will have to do so by some miracle, before I go in for surgery.

What's happening here is not that we need to stay away from physicians, because they can’t do anything for the Kingdom of God, but rather, that the Great Physician is King over disease. This isn’t showing us that physicians can’t help us, but rather, that what's impossible for man is possible for God.

And here is the tension, when it comes to healing: Not everyone receives the healing touch they long for. I’ve been praying for more than twelve years for my eyesight to be restored. And that has not happened.

And to clear the air of misunderstanding: I have not received healing, not because I have a lack of faith and not because God is incapable or doesn’t care, but because there is a greater testimony to the glory of God through this.

When Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to earth, it meant that the extraordinary would break through the ordinary. And as a result, we see the Kingdom of God advance in the world, when people are healed of their diseases.

But when we don’t see people healed, it does not mean that God has failed, but that the glory of God is being displayed in greater ways in the world.

We want to see disease fall away and the rule of God to be made complete on earth. So, we pray for God to heal people. But I think, often, we are afraid of the answer. We don’t want to commit too much of ourselves to asking God for healing, because what if He says, “Not right now.”

And this is where we need to be open-handed, in regard to prayers for healing. We give it all to God, because we want to see God heal and we want to receive healing. But if we don’t see it for twelve years, God still gets the glory.

Jesus is King over disease. Just because we might not see it, does not mean that He is not King. He is King. And we can rest in the assurance that all things will be finally and fully restored when the King of the Kingdom, returns.

It’s what we’ve been saying, since the beginning of this series. We see glimpses of the extraordinary breaking through the ordinary. But there is coming a day when all there will be is extraordinary. And all the disease and all the ailments and all the pain that has plagued us, will completely fall away. It will be no more.

4. Jesus is King over disease. And this brings us to the final demonstration of the power of the Kingdom and that is that Jesus is King over death.

Look at verse 49: “While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler's house came and said, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.’ 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, ‘Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.’ 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, ‘Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.’ 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, ‘Child, arise.’ 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. 56 And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.”

While Jesus is healing someone else, Jairus’s daughter dies. Can you imagine that? Your only daughter—your only child—is deathly ill. So, you go out searching for Jesus, right? You’ve heard about this Son of God who can heal people, and you want your baby girl to be healed. You want her well.

So, you look for Jesus and you find Him. And He agrees to come back with you. And you are heading back, in a hurry, trying to get Jesus to your house to save your little girl.

But then this woman touches Jesus and there is this big ordeal. And then, someone from your house comes and lets you know that your daughter is dead, and to not bother Jesus, anymore.

Can you imagine the range of emotions that are going through you? Panic, joy, sadness, anger. But what emotion does Jesus call out? Fear. “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.”

Here is how Jesus can say that: Because Jesus is King over death. Death doesn’t stand a chance against Jesus.

Jesus would eventually go to the cross, to take away the sting of death, forever. But death would not hold Jesus. Three days later, Jesus rose from dead, thus killing death. You want to know how to kill death? Come back to life.

It’s why the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55, says, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” And why, in Revelation 1:18, Jesus says to the apostle John, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

Death no longer is our master. We don’t need to fear death, because Jesus has defeated death on our behalf. He is the risen King. And if you put your faith in Jesus, today—if you only believe—then you will be made well, spiritually. And you will have the assurance and confidence to stare death in the face, because the power of the Kingdom has been demonstrated in you.

Here is the good news of the gospel: The same God who calms the wind and the water, the same God whom demons fear, the same God who heals diseases, and the same God who conquered death, is in all those who believe. If you have believed in Jesus, this same God and this same power is in you.

In John 7, John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, is thrown in prison, and it’s looking like John is close to being sentenced to death. So, John sends some messengers to Jesus, and he gets them to ask Jesus this one question, in verse 20: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

And I think we have all asked this question, at some point. We become gripped with fear, when uncertainties come upon us. We wonder if Jesus is near, when things don’t go how we think they will go. And the question in the back of our minds, is: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

We might say that Jesus is King over all, but do we believe it? What comes out of our mouths might be confidence and boldness about Jesus, but do we believe that Jesus is enough for any and every situation we will face?

Here is Jesus’ response to John’s messengers: Verse 21 says that Jesus had just finished healing people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits. So, Jesus says to John’s messengers, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

In other words, Jesus is saying, “Look around and see that I have come to bring the Kingdom of God, in all its power, to the world.” It’s here. It’s still to come, fully, but its here, now. Jesus declared the Kingdom with His mouth and demonstrated its power through His work.

And we who have believed in Jesus are a walking and talking demonstration of that power. When we readily admit our inability and insufficiency to be and do what we cannot be and do, and when we cling to Jesus, we make God look glorious. And God gets the glory, as His power is displayed through us.

But the question is: Do we believe? Do we believe that Jesus is the One who came to demonstrate His Kingship over all things—that He is enough for our situation, whatever it might be—or are we still waiting for another? Let’s pray…

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