Today's scripture focus passage: Luke 10:5-11
Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’We come today to another disciple missions trip. These are not the 12 apostles being sent out now, but 70 other close followers of Jesus who have been commissioned and dispatched to prepare the way for Jesus' arrival in the towns around the area.
I love how Macarthur summarizes this passage: it is essentially the message of Peace or Punishment. He explains that "Peace be to this house" is not just your run-of-the-mill, standard greeting, but would have held much greater significance for the Jews, who were waiting for their Peace, their Messiah, to come. This is why offering this greeting would be a sure way to determine who would be open to hearing their message and who wouldn't. If it was met with enthusiasm, excitement, or even curiosity, they were to stay and bring their message of peace ~ the Messiah was indeed coming, in fact, He was only a few miles away and heading their direction.
If, however, the greeting was met with disdain, Jesus told them not to waste their time there. No use throwing 'pearls before swine.' But He instructed the missionaries to make very clear to the town or household the consequences of rejecting the message of peace. The message then became one of punishment.
I've never really considered it before, but this is the message WE need to spread. The Kingdom of God is already here and it continues to move inexorably through human history. It is unstoppable, but whether its coming is a message of peace or a message of punishment is determined by each individual human heart. We need a new sense of excitement about this! This is a GREAT thing for God's people!! But we also need a new sense of urgency, because this is NOT a great thing for those who don't know Him.
This really is some great instruction for how to share the Gospel message, to "preach the Kingdom." We in our democracies don't fully comprehend or appreciate the concept of a monarchy ~ in particular, a PERFECT monarchy ~ but that is how we need to remember to teach. Humans are slaves, whether they like it or not, whether they know it or not. We are either slaves to sin and Satan, or we are bondslaves of God and righteousness. This is a concept tough to swallow even for many Christians, which, I submit, is why so many of us are nominal Christians. We just don't comprehend what it is to have NO RIGHTS, no decision-making power, to live ONLY to serve someone else. We bristle at that thought. But then we're reminded we accepted Christ as our Savior and LORD, and we have to concede that we did, at one point, submit ourselves to Him as King. What we need to determine then is, did we really submit ourselves or was it just something we said?
And this is the reality that needs to be presented to those whom we tell the Gospel message. The Gospel IS good news; but we should never forget that it is the good news of the Kingdom of God, which continues to grow, continues to move throughout history and into the future for the peace of those who love God and for the punishment of those who don't. We need to make sure we do our best to warn people of the consequences of rejecting the message of peace. We can't just concede and quietly walk away, giving in to the popular belief that we have no right to give our opinions on others' beliefs. They are entitled to believe whatever they want, yes, but they also need to know what happens to those who reject God's message of peace. We haven't fully preached the Kingdom if we don't tell them that before we move on.
They need to know that whether the message of God's coming Kingdom is the good news of peace or the bad news of punishment is determined by how they receive it.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year reading: 2 Corinthians 8; Psalm 136; Esther 5-6
Tomorrow's scripture focus passage: Luke 10:12-17