June 28, 2010 David Balzer

Luke 8:22-56: The Kingdom of God Trilogy

I’m a big fan of “The Lord of the Rings” movies. And during the holidays I went to see part 3 “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” It was great!

But I’m also a bit of a CYNIC. When I first heard when Part Three was due out I thought, “What’s the bet PART TWO comes out on DVD in about September? Just in time for Christmas, and in time to get people excited about Part Three.”

And guess what? Part Two’s due out at the end of AUGUST!

And the worst thing is/ it WORKED! At least for me. Because I got the DVD. And I saw Part Three on Boxing Day. And I’ll probably pull out Part One on video. And watch that too! And I might even get around to re-reading THE BOOK!

Advertising agencies are the experts at getting people curious, or interested, or excited, about SOMETHING THAT’S COMING SOON.

And that’s the point of these verses in Luke 8. Jesus is giving us a taste of the KINGDOM OF GOD. A window into ETERNITY.

Because in the Kingdom of God, the chaotic force of the sea is controlled. In the Kingdom of God, Satan’s head is crushed and God reigns. In the Kingdom of God, there’s no more sickness, and no more .

And it’s all in these verses.

And even though Jesus is bringing in the Kingdom of God. He’s not doing anything NEW. Because God’s kingdom has ALWAYS been about these things. Controlling the sea, Satan, sickness and .

It’s the way things STARTED. And it’s the way things will be at the END. So these verses are really the MIDDLE of a Kingdom of God TRILOGY. Just like “Lord of the Rings”

Flip over to Genesis 1.

The Kingdom of God Part 1. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. And then in verse 2. “And the Spirit of God was hovering over THE WATERS.”

No order. No design. No land or sky or light. Just oceans.

So God creates light. And sky. And then in v9, God CONTROLS THE WATER. Moves it around. Tells it what to do.

(Gen 1:9 NIV) And God said, “Let the water under the sky BE GATHERED TO ONE PLACE, and let dry ground appear.”

He brings ORDER out of CHAOS.

And when God creates humans. It tops off his whole creation. And he says it’s “Very Good”. And God even WALKS with people. In friendship. And closeness.

And because they could eat from the tree of LIFE, there was no . And no SIN. And no SICKNESS. That’s the Kingdom of God. Perfect.

But it doesn’t stay that way for long. Because along comes the snake. And then Adam and Eve disobey God. And eat the fruit.

And in comes sin. And then and sickness. Pain in childbirth. Painful work. And so God’s perfect plan, the Kingdom of God, starts to fade from view.

Although God DOES promise/ that ONE DAY/ the seed of the woman will crush the head of the snake. One day, one of Eve’s offspring, a son of man, will DEFEAT Satan. Crush his head. And will bring the Kingdom of God in.

And that brings us to JESUS. Because he’s BRINGING IN God’s kingdom. And HE’S the one who’s crushing Satan’s head. And that’s what we see in Luke Ch 8. Kingdom of God part 2.

But it’s also a taste of the FINAL kingdom. The Kingdom of God part 3. When God brings THIS world to an end. And the NEW heavens and the NEW earth will begin.

THAT will be a time when all the chaotic, fearful forces of the sea will be conquered. And when sickness and suffering and Satan are finally defeated. Once and for all. All the things Jesus is doing here.

The new heavens and new earth. The Kingdom of God. It’s in the future. But it’s not here yet. It’s the “coming attraction”.

And that gives us HOPE and CONFIDENCE. Hope that the mess the world’s in will be fixed up. One day. Hope that gives us the STRENGTH to keep going. And to keep working towards that day.

And CONFIDENCE. Confidence that he’s able to do it. He’s got the power and the authority to make it happen. They’re not just empty words. We’re not in for a shock when we finally get there because he doesn’t live up to his promises.

So let’s look at this highlight reel together. This audio-visual.

Story 1: Storms:

Verse 22. Jesus and the disciples hop in a boat. And head across to the other side of the lake.

And then Jesus falls asleep. And while he’s asleep, a storm blows in. It must have been SOME STORM, because EVEN THE DISCIPLES who’d been FISHERMEN were afraid.

“Hey, Teacher! Wake up!” “Don’t you care if we drown?”

I wonder what the disciples EXPECTED Jesus to do! My guess is they probably expected him to pick up a bucket, and help with the bailing!

But what did Jesus do instead? He stands up, and says, “Quiet! Be still!” And no sooner has Jesus spoken, than the wind stops and the waves die down and it’s completely calm…

Ordering the wind around. Bullying the waves. And they listen because he MADE them.

Just like His Father. Psalm 89 v8.

(Psa 89:8-11 NIV)  O LORD God Almighty, who is like you? …{9} You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them. … {11} The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.

The waves and the wind recognise the voice of their Creator. They know more about Jesus than HIS DISCIPLES! All THEY can do is ask the question “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Story 2: Satan

And their question will be answered sooner than they expected. Because they keep sailing. And they land on the other side of the lake. In Gentile territory. V26

Just the setting for scene two.

Imagine it. It’s probably early morning. The sun’s just starting to come up. They’re cold, wet, tired and hungry. They can’t WAIT to get on solid ground again. “Hurry up we’re nearly there! I can’t wait for a hot fire and a warm meal. With any luck, there’s someone to meet us.”

Perhaps there’s mist hiding the features on the shoreline. It’s the quiet calm of early morning. They glide in towards the shore. And they can make out some dark shapes on the cliffline. Just as the bottom of the boat scrapes the sand, they recognise the dark shapes as burial caves. Great, we’ve landed in a cemetery! Just our luck – after the night we’ve had.

But before they can feel too sorry for themselves, their thoughts are broken by a curdling scream. Someone’s there to meet them alright.

A man starts running down the slope towards the boat.

No ORDINARY man. A wild man. Hair everywhere. Completely . Except for the broken chains hanging from his wrists and ankles. Screaming at the top of his voice. He’s getting closer to the boat.

I can imagine the disciples wanting to jump straight back in the boat. “Quick push off. Let’s get out of here. Suddenly I don’t MIND missing breakfast, or sitting in wet clothes!”

Verse 7. He yells at Jesus, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God”

The answer to the disciples question. “Who is this man?”, and the wild man ANSWERS, “Jesus, Son of the most high God”.

“Don’t me,” he begs. The name of the unclean spirit is Legion because there’s so many demons.

NO-ONE ELSE could control him. Not armies of men, strong chains, or prison walls. But he’s no match for Jesus. Legion might be many, but being outnumbered means nothing to Jesus.

And so he casts the spirits into a herd of pigs.

They have to obey. They recognise a greater authority.

And then. Verse 33. The pigs rush down into the water and drown. The forces of Satan destroyed in the lake. The same lake that Jesus conquered the night before.

Keep that picture in your mind. Satan’s armies destroyed in the lake. Because it’s a foretaste of things to come.

Story 3: Sickness

And so off Jesus goes. Verse 40, he hops in the boat and crosses back to the other side. Probably somewhere near where he left the day before. Because a large crowd is waiting as he sails in to shore. All waiting for Jesus.

Now it’s time for story 3. There’s one man out of all the crowd who’s got SPECIAL MOTIVATION. He’s BUSTING to see Jesus. His daughter’s dying, and he’s desperate.

He’s willing to try anything. Even HUMILIATE himself before the whole town. But that’s what he does. He’s a synagogue ruler. Used to everyone giving HIM respect. But in verse 41, he falls at JESUS’ feet. In front of everyone. And PLEADS with Jesus to come and touch his daughter. … And Jesus DOES say yes.

Now imagine Jairus. His daughter’s in a bad way. May only have hours to live. He’s in a HURRY to get Jesus home. The LAST thing he needs is any delays or interruptions. But things are slow because the crowd is pushing around.

Like walking down Pitt Street Mall at lunchtime. Having to stop every two steps to avoid a collision. Bumping into people. Changing direction. And it’s all taking too long for Jairus. He’s getting nervous.

And while this is going on, we zoom in on ANOTHER personality. SOMEONE ELSE who needs Jesus desperately. And who’ll do just about anything.

She’s suffered continuous menstrual bleeding for twelve years. Awful. And not one doctor could help. But if that wasn’t enough. she’s treated like a social leper by anyone who knows her. According to Lev 15 she’s unclean. For a few days every month PERHAPS bearable. But not EVERY DAY FOR the LAST 12 years.

So it’s not hard to understand that she’s desperate. So desperate she does the unthinkable. She sneaks up behind Jesus. In the midst of the bustling crowd. And touches Jesus’ cloak. It will make him unclean. But she figures it’s worth the risk, because she’ll be healed.

And the VERY INSTANT she does, the bleeding stops. And she’s healed. In the midst of all the bodies bumping Jesus, this ONE TOUCH had faith, and the miracle was done.

And Jesus knew it. One touch. Different from all the rest. Like an electric shock. Power leaving him. A touch with FAITH behind it.

And so she falls TREMBLING at his feet. V47. Perhaps trembling from excitement. She knows she’s finally been HEALED.

But perhaps trembling because she’s scared at what Jesus will say. Petrified that he’ll be angry because he’s been made unclean. But what does Jesus say?

Not, “Your touch has made ME UNCLEAN”. But “Your faith has HEALED YOU”.

It’s not unclean-ness that’s contagious, but clean-ness. Clean has replaced unclean. Joy has replaced sorrow. Peace has replaced pain. And it’s the sign of things to come.

But what about Jairus? I’m guessing he’s hopping from one foot to the other. Looking at his watch. Sighing. Jangling the keys. All the tricks husbands use on wives in the clothes shops.

But while Jesus is still speaking to the woman, some people come up to Jairus. They’ve been helping around his house. Where his sick daughter is.

And he can tell what’s coming from the looks on their faces. A frown. A shake of the head. Verse 49. Don’t bother Jesus anymore … your daughter is .

Jesus overhears. And looks at Jairus. “Don’t listen to them. Don’t be afraid. Just BELIEVE”.

Sleep

And so they get to Jairus’ house. And everyone’s carrying on like someone’s just died. But in verse 52 Jesus tells them that they’ve got it all WRONG. Noone’s . She’s just ASLEEP.

Talk about a bad time to a joke. Some people try to tell jokes to break the ice. To lighten up an uncomfortable situation. And Jesus is about as blunt and insensitive as you can get! “She’s not . She’s just asleep.”

And they laugh at him. He’s the court jester. The fool. And an INSENSITIVE one at that.

But he doesn’t ACT the fool. He knows what he’s going to do. He puts out everyone except the family, and his closest friends. and then he does TWO things. Two SIMPLE things. He takes hold of her hand, and he says two words, “Little , get up”

ANYONE could do them. But what makes them special is what happens next. Verse 55. She gets up. Her spirit returns from wherever she’d been. And she gets up. Just like she’d only been sleeping.

That’s how easily Jesus can beat . And it’s what makes a CHRISTIAN funeral so different from a NON-Christian one.

Yes, we cry with the family. But we celebrate a life. And even more we celebrate a NEW life. And we LONG to be where that sleeping saint is. Back where they belong. With their Saviour.

They’ve been let in on the future kingdom early. A special screening of part 3 of the trilogy.

And in a sense, so have we. Because Jesus has given US a glimpse of eternity. Only a preview. A trailer. A tease.

The Kingdom of God part 3. And it’s subtitled “The Return of the King” just like “The Lord of the Rings”.

It’s a kingdom where chaos and disorder has been destroyed. AND Satan. AND sickness. AND . The big four.

Please turn to Rev 20 with me.(– about two pages from the end of the Bible). It’s a description of the spiritual battle between God and Satan. But it’s hardly a fair contest. V1.

(Rev 20:1-3 NIV)  And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. {2} He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. {3} He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him,

And then in v7 Satan is released from prison for a short while. But before he can get his hopes up, even worse is to come. There’s a brief battle, and then it’s all over. Look down to v10.

(Rev 20:10 NIV)  And the devil, who deceived them, WAS THROWN INTO THE LAKE OF BURNING SULPHUR, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Satan destroyed. Once and for all. Thrown into the SEA. Just like Jesus and the demons.

And then we get to Ch 21.

(Rev 21:1 NIV)  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and THERE WAS NO LONGER ANY SEA.

The sea is where CHAOS is. DISORDER. Storms. And fear. It’s what God pushed BACK when he FIRST made the world. It’s bitterness and salt. And there’s no place for it in the NEW heaven and earth.

But what else? V2.

(Rev 21:2 NIV)  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

A beautiful city. The symbol of ORDER and DESIGN. Of COMMUNITY. The very OPPOSITE of a STORMY SEA.

And then v3.

(Rev 21:3 NIV)  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

A city with God in the middle. Not distant anymore. Not up in heaven. But living with his people. And what does that mean? V4.

(Rev 21:4 NIV)  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

No more or PAIN. Or SIN.

How good is that? The Kingdom of God part 3. And it’s coming soon! Bet your life on it!

But how can we be so sure? After all, things don’t look much like this TODAY. Even for Christians. There’s still plenty of sickness. And tears. And pain.

We’re sure because we’ve seen PART 2. Jesus has BEGUN the kingdom. He’s WON it for us. And one day soon, we’ll get it all.

I’ve seen part 2. And I can’t wait to see part 3. “The Return of the King”

How about you?

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