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The Kingdom Is Now
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Kingdom of God is not some event in the distant future. It is now. Blessed are those who hear the Word of God now. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven now. Blessed is he who recognizes in Mary’s Son the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world now. Blessed is he who eats bread in the Kingdom of God now. The Kingdom of God belongs to them. The Holy Trinity rules in them by grace even now.
All things are ready—all things, that is, except the guests. They have lingering commitments and desires for themselves that rank higher somehow than God and His gifts. The Host is ready; they are not. Here come the excuses. They don’t come right out and say that they don’t want to come. They just don’t want to come now. We can clearly see the foolishness of such behavior. We are pleased that the host invites the dregs of society—the poor, the lame, the maimed, and the blind—and that still there is room. We are glad because that means there is still room for us.
But for how long will there be room? This is a parable about urgency, about the desperate and present need we have. We scoff at the men in the parable who thought themselves too busy to attend. But what about us? Are we ready for the final summons? Are we eager and expectant? The truth is, we have plans and dreams. Yes, we want Jesus to return, but first we want to see our children grow up. We want to reach our goals. We want to see if George Martin will ever finish his Game of Thrones series. Repent! No believer will be disappointed in that eternal Day. No believer will look back longingly on this vale of tears or desire anything in it.
In twenty years as a pastor, I’ve had several homebound and shut-in church members tell me how frustrated they are that God keeps them here. They are ready, and they don’t know what purpose they can yet serve. I tell them I don’t know either, but with those who love God, all things work out for good; surely He will bring them home soon, at the perfect time. But that plaintive cry, that desire for the Last Day, should be in us all, regardless of age, health, or occupation. Farmer, spouse, laborer, professor, or pastor—what do any of us add to this world? God does not need us. This is not out home. “Come, Lord Jesus,” should be more than a mindless table prayer. We should want Him to return; and as we wait, we should desire that He should come to us every Lord’s Day in His body and blood.
And, yet, the sad fact is that we have believed we might be bored in heaven, that we might miss our beer, our video games, our lust, our pride. Eternity is not going to be a utopia of golf courses, stocked ponds, and TV shows. It is far better than that—the most interesting, delightful, wonderful thing, far beyond what we can imagine. We will be free of sin. We will stop hurting ourselves and those we love with shameful, selfish behavior. We will bask in the presence of our loving Father as His adopted family, perfected in grace. We will have no regrets, nothing lost, everything gained.
But that joy to come, that glory to be revealed, is already present now. For those with eyes to see, we are already God’s adopted children in whom He abides. And already now, here, He gathers us to Himself. He feeds us with food that money cannot buy, with bread that will not waste, with crucified flesh and spilled blood that satisfies righteousness.
Everything is ready. It is all finished. All debts are paid, all sins removed, all shame forgotten, for Jesus died once for all and rose to give us new life. There is nothing left to do but to receive. Come to the Feast. Be filled by Him. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.