Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

The Nature of the Kingdom 5/10/10
Sunday was Mother's Day and in honor of mothers, here are a couple of writings that relate to them.

The first one was originally published in May 1988 in Pulpit Helps by an unknown author and the second one by written by a Mrs. Keith Nightingale.

Blessed is the mother…
Who can hold on to her children while letting them go;
Who puts a tranquil home ahead of an immaculate house;
Who knows a kind act will be remembered longer than an easy word;
Who really believes that prayer changes things;
Whose faith in eternity sweetens the present;
Whose Bible never needs dusting;
Whose sense of humor is alive and well.

Selected


Motherhood—who can describe the blessings, the joys, and the challenges that motherhood holds? The ecstasy of a healthy newborn placed in her reaching arms; the urgent wonder in a child’s voice as he rushes in to say, “Mama, come see the pretty sunset!”; the utter innocence of that childish face in peaceful slumber; sharing the excitement of the long-awaited first day of school; and following with misty eyes as the school bus door closes one world and opens another. Then a
mother reflects, “Have I prepared my child to meet the daily challenges awaiting him?”

The years pass swiftly, and the challenges of motherhood grow. This is not to say that the blessings diminish. Wiling hands that want to plant the seeds in the garden row just like Mama does, or the childish answer, “Mama, I didn’t do it because you told me not to”—such little incidents give the mother courage. In turn, a timely compliment when a child’s willingness to work is lagging serves as a tonic.

Truly the source of most joy to a mother’s heart is when her child responds to the Heavenly Shepherd’s calling. Yet, throughout the growing-up years, mothers face the challenge of providing a listening ear and sometimes a soft shoulder. At the dawning of each day, her prayer ascends for wisdom. She shares the frustrations of a difficult day in school; the injustice of being misunderstood; or how to help her child face, in a godly way, the demands of peer pressure. Some days the fussing and teasing between brothers and sisters causes her to cry out to God to help her teach her children kindness and unselfishness. She ponders the goal of establishing in her child the sense of purpose and principle that will give him the courage to stand like Daniel.

The law of sowing and reaping affects all aspects of life, and how true that is of motherhood. How vastly far-reaching are the effects of the attitudes of a mother—the happiness of our homes is at stake, and even our eternal destiny. Ezekiel 16:44 says, “…As is the mother, so is her daughter.”

If the mother sows a hurried, preoccupied atmosphere in the kitchen, will she not reap a distant relationship with her daughter? And if she allows herself to sow permissiveness, will she not reap a teenager without conviction, one who has frustrations and lack of direction? The little seeds of pride embed themselves so subtly. What will the little dress with the “just right” look produce in fruit sixteen years later? Will the reaping be vanity and bending to peer pressure? Then there are the persistent seeds of harshness and impatience. Could the reaping be found in calloused children with an insensitivity to the misfortune around them?

May we sow seeds of godliness, prayerfulness, submission, kindness, respect—and the list goes on. We all admire seeing a happy family cheerfully working, singing, and enjoying each other together. They are interested in others and give of their time unselfishly. These children, in turn, create happy homes, and the church and the community reap an abundance of blessings. These blessings did not come of themselves without facing up to the challenge.

Mrs. Keith Nightingale

Now we will consider the following verses of Scripture.

KJV Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
KJV Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
KJV Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
KJV Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.


As we look at this short text, we perhaps ask ourselves two questions: What led the people to bring their children to Jesus? Why did the disciples rebuke Jesus for receiving the children? The answer that Jesus gives is the focal point of our meditation, but in order to keep this portion of scripture in context with the rest of the chapter as well as the entire gospel, we will look at what has been happening before this encounter with the disciples and the children took place.

First of all, from a study of the previous chapters, we notice that Mark emphasizes in his gospel of the signs and wonders done by Jesus, mainly through the healing of the sick and the casting out of devils. After commissioning the twelve, they went forth doing that which He had been doing.

KJV Mark 6:13 And they (disciples) cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

Here are the occasions and the references in which Jesus used his hands to heal, to deliver from, to restore, as well as was touched by others for their healing.

Mark 1:30-31 Jesus heals Peter's mother in law
Mark 1:40-42 Jesus heals the leper
Mark 3:1-5 Jesus points to faith as the means of the restoration of the withered hand.
Mark 3:9-10 The crowds seek to touch Jesus for healing
Mark 5:22-24; 5:35-43 Jesus restores Jairus' daughter to life by calling her name and lifting her with his hand.
Mark 5:25-34 The woman with an issue of blood touches Jesus garment and is healed.
Mark 6:2-6 People take notice of the healing that is done by Jesus' hands.
Mark 7:1-5 The Pharisees find fault with those who do not wash their hands before eating.
Mark 7:32-37 Jesus, putting his hand on the deaf mute heals him.
Mark 8:22-26 Jesus with his hands brings sight to the blind man.

As we are seeking the answer to our first question as to what caused/enouraged the parents to bring their children to Jesus, we can conclude that upon seeing that when the sick, the leprous, the crippled, the dead, the diseased, the deaf and the blind were brought to Jesus, He did not turn them away, but He healed them. Most of the time when Jesus did these signs and wonders, He instructed the restored to not broadcast it all around, but the joy of being restored was too great for the ones who had been healed. Therefore as a result of their spreading the news of what Jesus was doing, the crowds grew larger and it became difficult for Jesus to move around freely. But it seems like that is exactly what He wanted, that people would hear about what He was doing, that they would flock around Him to hear Him, for He had a much more important message to bring to them. For the miracles that He was performing were done for the purpose of physical restoration, yes, but they pointed to a much greater restoration and miracle. This restoration was going to come through His suffering, death and resurrection, which Mark records for the first time in chapter 8. He begin to preach to them of His Gospel:

KJV Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
KJV Mark 8:32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.
KJV Mark 8:33 But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

After being on the Mt of Transfiguration with Jesus and seeing Moses and Elijah with Him there, they descend back to the valley and witness the healing of a boy, a healing which the disciples could not do.

KJV Mark 9:17-27 Jesus takes by hand and heals the boy with a dumb spirit.

After healing the boy through the use of His hand, (note the statement of faith by the boy's father) Jesus for the second time speaks of and points to the greater deliverance that He has come to bring.

KJV Mark 9:31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.
KJV Mark 9:32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

At this point the disciples seem to be mystified as to what is going on, as the reactions to the statements by Jesus of His eventual suffering, death and resurrection were rejection of what He said (8:31) and no understanding of what He was talking about. They were afraid to ask him about it.

In Mark 9:33, we see that a conversation took place with the disciples and Jesus in which used a recent incident to teach them of the nature of His kingdom. For sure through His miracles He was pointing to the events (suffering, death and resurrection) that would publicly and permanently bring in the kingdom, but He here desires to teach them/us of the nature of that kingdom. After referring to some recent dispute among them as to who should be the greatest in this new kingdom, and telling them that "if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all," He set a child in the midst of them, took the child in his arms and said unto them:

KJV Mark 9:37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

Following this initial statement of Jesus a discussion begins which continues for the rest of chapter nine and which relates to the nature of the kingdom which Jesus had brought to this earth. Careful study of the rest of this chapter (9) is necessary in order to understand the meaning of chapter 10:13-16, for Jesus uses the example of a child to point to the characteristics of one who understands and lives in the kingdom of God.

In chapter 10, as the crowds are around Him and He is teaching, the Pharisees come to Him with a question, by which they wish to tempt Him, to trap Him. By their approach, may we not understand that they were not looking for Godly advice and counsel, but rather they were seeking to justify their selfish and self serving behavior? They ask Him a question about divorce, about the putting away of ones's wife? Jesus counters with a question: "What did Moses command you?"

They answered, "Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away." (They answered according to Scripture,)

KJV Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

To this Jesus replied, (Mark 10:5-9)
5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

What Jesus is referring to is that due to the selfishness and self serving nature of the hearts of mankind as the result of our fall into sin, that Moses had allowed for separation in certain cases such as is described above. But what had happened is that the allowance for divorce had grown to include almost any reason as a cause, any cause which would serve the self serving and selfish nature of a man. There were two schools that had major influence in affecting people in that day. One was very restrictive towards the allowance of divorce while the other allowed divorce for almost reason. These teachings were prevalent back then and they remain today, for the depth of damage to us as the result of our fall into sin which results in worship of self is hard to fathom. We want to be served rather than to serve.

If we keep our mind on what Jesus is teaching here and especially think of how this conversation was initiated by Jesus with his disciples, we see how it directly applies to our discussion concerning children and of how they model the nature of the kingdom of God. The disciples, like us, as the result of the fall into sin, firstly think of themselves and what is in it for us. Jesus uses the occasion of the Pharisees tempting Jesus to teach his disciples of the destructiveness of the type of behavior that they (the disciples) are demonstrating. He had pointed to their recent dispute about "what was in it for them," had placed a child in front of them and had outlined to them that serving the other is a trademark of this kingdom that were disputing about. Here we might say that these dispute came after Jesus had foretold of His suffering, death and resurrection. They/we missed the serving nature of Jesus and focused on the ruling aspect of the kingdom. That is our sinful nature, which unless we come to the place of humility and service, will reign in our hearts and lives.

It seems to me that Jesus used this example of the question which was asked by the Pharisees to point to the eventual outcome of a selfish and self serving nature in marriage. The Pharisees were looking for justification of selfish behavior, not rebuke, correction and direction of their behavior. They did that because they looked at the kingdom as a place which they could reign, and not serve. When we look upon our relationships as opportunities to reign or dominate people, we are like the Pharisees. When we look upon relationships as opportunities to serve people, we are displaying the true nature of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. That is what He is referring to when He told the Pharisees that what Moses allowed in order to keep order in the society of that day was never intended to be broadened in its interpretation to include just about any loophole for divorce in their current society. Jesus pointed to that which God had instituted in the beginning, saying that nothing has changed since that as far as God is concerned.


So hearing all this said, when they got back into the house, the disciples asked Jesus about what had just happened. He told them:

Mark 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

Here Jesus reiterates what He had told them in verses 5-9, driving home to them the point that the union with one's spouse is permanent and that it is a lifelong commitment. (This account is expanded in Matthew's gospel, 19:3-12.)

With today's divorce rate and the destruction that it brings unto people and their children, it is relatively easy to understand the purpose of the statement that Jesus made here and which He makes in Matthew's Gospel. Even as Moses gave certain situations as reason for divorce in his day and, human nature being what it is, broadened the reasons for divorce to include almost any reason, so it is in our day that which Jesus gives as allowance in Matthew's Gospel has been broadened to include almost any reason. There could be a lot discussed here concerning this and it would be a good and helpful discussion, but we could shorten the discussion greatly by going back to a verse in the book of Genesis and discussing a little about that verse. The bottom line is: We are selfish by nature, and we do not want to humble ourselves before God so that we could live in union with Him through Jesus Christ.

KJV Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

As the result of the fall, the union of two was broken, our fellowship with God was broken, and as a result, we became self serving as this verse implies. This verse had been interpreted in a number of ways, one of which is that as a result of the fall, women were viewed as seductresses and therefore they were to be kept down from influential places as well as considered as property to be used. And history verifies that that thought and practice has been carried out, to the extent that woman have been and yet today are viewed many societies as property to be used and not as God intended that it be in that they are to be loved and appreciated as humans created in His image. They are heirs of the grace of life.

Another interpretation is interesting to consider: Woman, being more relational than men in their approach to life, have a desire to get back to that which was enjoyed in the Garden of Eden, but man (male) in his fallen and unrenewed state will resist that type of relationship and will rule over his wife, deeming her to be property instead of being the"better half." Again history and current practice among nations verifies the truth of this in result and not from God's desire. What it seems to say here is that women play an important and integral role in keeping the family going in the right direction in that their desire and ability to influence the relationship of marriage toward its oneness is a God ordained and inspired. They nurture relationship and desire to move it back to what it was before the fall.

Now parents bring their children to Jesus so that He may bless them. Sure, they know that Jesus will bless them, the disciples still do not understand the nature of the kingdom, rebuking those that brought the children to Him. but what it Jesus teaching us here in all of these verses?

1. He is showing us that self serving and selfishness lead to exclusivity (Mark 9:38-40)

2. In His kingdom, no service is too small to be noticed and rewarded (Mark 9:41)

3. If we realize that we are offending these little ones, we must stop doing so at all costs to our selfseving and selfish nature. (Mark 9:42)

4. Selfserving and selfishness will lead to the breaking of the union of that which God has joined together.
(Mark 10:1-12)

5. The union of marriage is to be lived in like a child: We are brought to God by our parents, we are taught by our parents in the ways of the Lord mainly by their example, and as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we are slowly understanding and yielding to the ways and purposes of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

6. We live in humility before God and before people, we live in dependence on God, we live in forgiveness of God and toward others, which means we live in union with Jesus Christ.

7. Because we are in union with Jesus Christ by declaration God through faith, the awareness of what this means and the experience of it becomes greater as we grow in His grace and knowledge, and consequently, we learn more and more of what it means to "have a child like faith". It is not childish faith, but it is childlike faith.
Childlike vs Childish
KJV 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

KJV 1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

KJV 1 Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.



8. In this union, we are as held in His embrace of security of forgiveness, of love and joy, and of hope in the expectation of the future.



May the Lord help us to see and understand what He is teaching us about what it means to become like a child and how it is the trademark of a child of the kingdom. May He open our understanding of His Word so that we may truly grow in the humility and dependence of a child and in the maturity of an adult.
The example of our congregation's long time servant, Pastor Oscar Wilson, is a good one to leave lingering in our minds as we consider the embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This quote is taken from the history of our congregation, The Apostolic Lutheran Church of Kingston.

"Oscar and Stella had four children, Carmelle, Phillip, Rita and Erick. Oscar was a loving and dedicated pastor who never wavered in his beliefs and upheld the foundation our faith is build upon. We sincerely thank God that He gave us Oscar how helped preserve our Christian heritage. Oscar never lost his love for our congregation. He was a long-suffering servant and patient man who always endeavered to do the will of God. Many of us remember his loving arms embracing us in Christian love as he assured us the our sins were forgiven in the Name and shed blood of Jesus Christ."

May the abundant grace of our Lord Jesus Christ minister to us today.

Together in His Union,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 10 May 2010 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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Help is on the way Isaiah 40.1.11
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala


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