The Immediacy of the Gospel
Automatically Generated Transcript
There are a couple of words missing, not in anything to do with this, but in your bulletin and the wrong person would be identified the way I've got it there. But it's mentioning how Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law. No? Yeah, that's the right person, but I'd written Peter's wife, it was meant to be wife's mother. You'd get the wrong picture if you just read it as it was. And that's in your bulletin. Now, if you didn't get a bulletin, then you don't know what I'm talking about, but they are available every morning as you come in through the foyer. And that's just the heading there.
We're looking at Matthew 4 and verses 12 to 17. And we're looking here at the next piece of exposition in our Gospel of Matthew. And it's rather interesting, the first reading this for this coming message was the first time I'd ever noticed something that's been there all the time, and that is that Jesus shifted home. And I wanted to talk about what was on my mind for this morning was this idea that there are times when we have to change address, change home. And Jesus went through that as well. And it never occurred to me that that might be the case. And anyway, but that's actually what's going on here. And Jesus is moving now. There's reasons why he's moving, and we're going to go into those in a moment's time.
But it's really interesting when you track down the wording of how it's said about Jesus and he's moving, it's more on the front page of the bulletin than I can see it on the screen. But, and no, we haven't got it on the bulletin. But Jesus, when he went to leave, he went to leave from Nazareth as his home. And there are some reasons why he needed to transfer his centre of operation to somewhere else. And we're looking at some of those reasons this morning. And when he did, he went to Capernaum. And Capernaum was a bigger place. It was on the lake, Lake of Galilee. And Jesus going there was putting himself in the centre of where his first expansion and preaching and people coming to listen to his message was going to happen. And so, it was necessary for him to find where was the place to launch his ministry.
And it involved his going to stay in Capernaum. Now why we call it a place where it's like a home is because he found somewhere where people recognized him being there often enough to say when Jesus was at home or not referring to Capernaum. But in actual fact, the place was the home of Peter and his wife. And it was Peter's wife's mother or Peter's mother-in-law that Jesus healed while staying there. And so, you have one of the miracles that Jesus did that is recorded in the Gospels. Now so Jesus is moving home and we might well ask ourselves the question as to why he's going and what are the reasons that we might have in our lives to come to a moment when it's time to leave home or to transfer where is your base of operation. Now the first thing we read in verse 12 is that Jesus heard that John had been arrested. Eventually John's going to have his head cut off. And Jesus is recognizing that the opposition toward him is getting greater. Now whether that meant that he's running away from it, I don't actually think it's the reason.
But I think that he didn't want to die before the right time. I'm sure he was beginning to really be aware as he was gradually tutoring his disciples that the Son of Man is going to die and die on a cross. And so, Jesus wants to be the place where he can minister first. He knows he's going to one day die in Jerusalem and things are getting hotter down near the Jordan River in Jerusalem where John the Baptist was getting some opposition from, not that that happened in Jerusalem, but that's the reason why Jesus then moved to another spot. Because where he went to was a place where it was known as only semi-Jewish. Some of the area there was called the Galilee of the Gentiles because the population had sufficient non-Jewish people in it that it was very much a cosmopolitan place, not somewhere which was right in the heart of Jewish land where the Sanhedrin would have their meetings and where the opposition would be the fiercest.
But he is moving because of the question of there's a change that's coming about in his ministry and this is going to be a real start. He withdrew to Galilee and the word withdrew gives you the idea that where he had previously had as a centre was one that needed to draw away from. And I'm asking the question what was he wanting to draw to? What was leading him to do that? Well, how I know that it's a business about leaving home is the next part, verse 30 says, leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum. Now that's the translation we're using, it's wording it, he lived in Capernaum, but the wording is such that it means there's a leaving from Nazareth but there's a settling in Capernaum and it's by the sea and it's an area where there's going to be an awful, a very large number of people and people who aren't necessarily as firmly embedded in all the Jewish beliefs and the Jewish reactions.
They're people who are busy with their livelihood, they're people who mostly there are Jewish people there, this is a part of the land of the Jewish people. It's just north of where Samaria is where the woman at the well had met Jesus and then there's Judea proper down north, Jerusalem, the heart of Jewish land was down at Jerusalem in the south. And this is right up in the north, a good distance away from where Jesus had been experiencing some opposition when he went down to the feasts at Jerusalem. So, he went and lived in Capernaum, but the place that he's living is actually not his own home, but he's just bunking in with Peter who's becoming one of his chief disciples and Peter's family. Hence there is a mother-in-law or Peter's wife's mother that needs to be healed by Jesus.
The reference that goes on to say in Capernaum by the sea in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali and three of the tribes that had come with Joshua into the promised land had been given land there, so it was properly land that had been bequeathed by God to the Jewish people to be a part of their territory. But there was a prophecy about this area and the prophecy had to do with the fact that this was a place which was full of darkness. There being cosmopolitan was because there often were raids by foreign groups coming into there and there being warfare and whatever, and it wasn't properly taken over by all of the Jewish ideas, and so there were Gentiles, hence sometimes it was called the Gentiles of, it was Galilee of the Gentiles. And there was a prophecy, and the prophecy was the land of Zebulun, the land of Naphtali, away by the sea, if you're invading people coming in from that direction, you come through there, beyond the Jordan, so it's the other side of the Jordan River, Galilee of the Gentiles, and the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light.
For those dwelling in the region of the shadow of death, and on them a light has dawned. It's talking about Jesus coming in his person and with the message that he gave of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus is arriving, and so there was a prophecy that this light was going to shine on that place. Now when it comes to the prophecies of the Old Testament and the life of Jesus, you've got to recognise that there's an application of the connection between those prophecies and Jesus and what he did in two directions. First of all, the prophecies were given before Jesus was even born and came, and there's a sense in which they're prior in time to the actual events, but he's doing something that as a young lad he would have as he learned the scriptures as he grew up, and if you were listening last week, we're talking about Jesus and his self-awareness and self-consciousness.
He wasn't like that he immediately knew who he was and what he'd come to do as a baby, but Jesus grew in knowledge, and that knowledge was of God as well of how to be right with people, and Jesus got a grasp on what God wanted for him from the word of God and all the teaching he would have observed from the Old Testament, and Jesus bit by bit because the spirit was with him was being taught of God through the scriptures, and so there's a sense in which the prophecy would be a part of how Jesus knew where to go. He's being led by the scriptures teaching him. In another sense, the connection between what Jesus did and how he went and the people he talked to and the Old Testament is also something where how the Old Testament was written was because of what Jesus was going to do. He is the original, and the Old Testament, even the whole making of the law and all of its depiction of ways that were preliminary revelations of how God would bring redemption to human beings, were not done with Jesus following what the law prescribed because the law got it first, and he would be looking it up, and this is what must happen next.
It's because the law, given by the inspiration of the spirit, was recording that which Jesus, he's the original, was going to do as led from the Father. He was going to do some things that brought redemption to us, and much of the law in his understanding by the Jewish people didn't miss the entire point or didn't get what it was all about because it was written because of the spirit knowing what Jesus was going to be led to do, and so there's a connection in both directions between this prophecy and why Jesus chose to move when he did. How does that apply to us? When we're people wondering, I don't know whether you're someone involved in getting a job change, and you're wondering what to do next, or you've come to a time when you've retired and you wonder what's the next move, or there's a reason where you're going to change houses because all the kids have fled, I mean they've moved, and you don't need the big mansion you're presently in.
All of these things affect us along the way, and we might ask the question, what does that mean about where we live? I don't know if there's anyone here who's asking those questions of yourself, but with the example of Jesus, we have him being guided by the Holy Spirit, and that's very clear from the Gospels. If I could go off for a tangent for a few seconds, if you read in the Luke's version of this passage that we're looking at, it really emphasises how everything that's happening and being decided to do by Jesus is Spirit led. Even being led out into the desert as we saw for the temptation, but then what about when he's in the synagogue and he says, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he's anointed me to do this and do this and do this. Jesus is led of the Spirit, and so likewise when it comes to moving, it's because the Spirit is moving in him.
What Jesus gives for us as an example is the fact that if we're Christians, and we're following the example that Jesus had, he was when he came to earth, put aside being a person who would be an independent personality making his own decisions, but he took on board that he would make his decisions under God his Father. Now Jesus calling the Father, Father is because the fatherhood of the first person of the Trinity is eternal, and the sonship of the Son is eternal. Sometimes there's big arguments in religious circles about the eternality of the sonship, and you'll get some people arguing for he only became Son when he came to earth. That's not true. He's always been Son, and the Father's always been Father, and there is a relationship whereby the Son is not the Father, and the Father is not the Son. There's differences in terms of the relationship of the three persons of our one God, the Trinity.
I know that's something that you can't ever get your head around. Don't try. You'll drive yourself crazy, but nor can you reject it because it is the revelation of the scriptures that our one God is in three persons, not human persons, but three personalities. The fatherhood of the Father is eternal, and the sonship of the Son, he was Son even before he took on Jesus being Jesus, and when he was incarnate, he became, incarnate means enfleshed. When he took on humanity, that was a fresh move, which he'd made from heaven, and he took on, according to Philippians chapter two, and we've been looking at this across recent weeks, humility, that he would be led of the Father as a human being is led of God. So, Jesus, in his taking on humanity, was able not to grasp after or hang on to, or Philippians two tells us, to all that was his because he was God, but took upon himself the role of a servant, fashioned as a human.
That's Philippians chapter two, if we want to go home and look at it. But Jesus, as he was on earth, was Son in a way that was obedient to the Father, that specially was designed for his time down here on earth. Since then, as he returned to heaven, he's been made Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and now he has the role of being heaven's decider, and the people down on earth who are going to do as the Spirit leads them is us, and the model that he set up of letting the Father lead him via the Holy Spirit, that model is the one that he set up that we now follow, and if you're going to move, maybe not to Galilee, if you're going to move, you could do it as the Father leads you, and where would you find that leading? How his word can lead you step by step. Sometimes nothing do you find particularly relevant to little decisions you have to make, and you trust him, and other times he speaks to you, and you follow, and there's a dynamic involved in what it is to be a Christian which is wrapped up in this, that we have been given a model by Jesus that we follow his leading just as he exampled, and now that he's gone to heaven and he's the one, he's the head in heaven as we've been learning in Sunday mornings, he's the head in heaven, we are the body on earth, and the connection between the head in heaven and the body on earth is the person of the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
Sorry if this is deep, but it is deep, and it's about the essence of being a Christian is that you get in touch with Jesus, the Lord of heaven, via the Holy Spirit being on you, and he leads you, and you follow as he leads, and it's an exercise to learn about the leading of the Spirit. Now this morning, I want to tell you that I'm in a difficult position because I've got two messages, the one that I spent my week trying to get ready for, and the second one is I lay in bed this morning, and I thought I'd just get it fresh in my mind, and something else came really strong, and my role is to tell you what God wants you to know, and so I've got another element to this message this morning that we'll now move into. It's really fascinating when asking the question, why did Jesus move as he did, and I'm there chasing it down, and coming to realise that the reason why he moved as he did was by several different reasons, John the Baptist being in jail, getting rather heated in the politics, so he retreats, as the text saw, but another reason is because of this prophecy.
And the word of God is speaking to him about there being a moment when a great light shines in this area of darkness, the Galilee of the Gentiles, where not too many of them are that keen to do all the Jewish rules, is a place where they're very interested in their fishing, and Jesus moves to where there's people that need him most, and he's led there because of a prophecy in the Bible, and God can work on us what he wants us to move, and sometimes as you pray about it, if you soak the decision in prayer, you'll find that he may give you a Bible verse that's relevant, or he may talk to you another way, don't limit God, leave room for God to find his own way to tell you what to do, but in this particular case, through this prophecy in the Old Testament, Jesus knows there's action that's meant to happen in this spot, and he moves to where the Lord leads him for his ministry to really take off.
The lesson we learn, of course, as Christians, where God may lead you isn't only a case of where are the best schools, where can you have a family life that's the style you like, isn't near the Gold Coast because you want to go surfing every morning. All right, I listen in to people when they tell me their reasons for going, and it's amazing some of the reasons people have, but you want to find out from God whether he's leading you there, and he has a variety of ways to lead. Sometimes he does it by you don't get any choice, and something happens and you're posted there, you're either going to resign or be a beast, or you're going to be an idiot, but God is in the business of leading us and not to make a move because it's just for a reason that's yours and not necessarily his.
But what I was going to tell you is something that came to me this morning, and so to see this a bit more, let's go to Luke's same story line of Jesus moving to Galilee. So, if we turn to the Luke, please, on the screen, and you'll find it very interesting about the reasons that Jesus has for his moving. And this is Luke chapter 4. I mentioned earlier that everything that happened, Luke is very careful to tell us is because he was filled with the Spirit. So, Luke 4 and verse 1, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, 40 days, and we've been going over about the temptations of Christ. Then if you look at what happens next, it's down in verse 14. So, Luke 4, verse 14.
Thank you for Luke, verse 1, but now down in verse 14. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. So in between, Jesus is being finished the first episode of temptation, not that it was to be the last, but the devil left him for a season. And in verse 14, Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee. And a report about him went through all the surrounding country, and he taught in the synagogues, being glorified by all. Then comes one of the reasons why Jesus also makes a move. The next section of Luke, my Bible has got headings. They're rather helpful, actually. They're very helpful. But if you've got one of the Pew Bibles and turn to page 859, you'll see that they're written. And I just read from the temptation of Jesus in verse 1, full of the Holy Spirit, he moved from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. And then the next heading is in italics, just before verse 14. Jesus begins his ministry.
And one of the things that God wants us to do is to seek out and find where is what is called your ministry. There's different styles of ministry. There's different, I don't know whether to call them levels of ministry, but some people find their ministry in the thing that is their vocation. And some people get called to a ministry which needs them to leave their vocation. Now, the word vocation comes from the word vox, or in Latin, I think it is, it means to be called. And your vocation is something that you have about you that dictates your calling. Dictates your calling. Some people, it's not strong enough for them to really delineate it, to say what it is. And other people, it stands out like a sore thumb. And I can't explain why some people's vocation is obvious to them, and there are others of us who may never really know for sure what we'll be doing that's not as clear. But the vocation, that idea of calling, is that in your humanity, this is not necessarily the case of you needing to be a Christian. Some people know they're just called to do something because they gave them special gifts.
They gave them a capacity, and sometimes it's just a set of qualifications that they have in their personalities, and it adds up to being a vocation. And it's normal in human life that you follow the lead of what God has already acted in giving you in your naturalness. And it's a silly person who doesn't do the thing that they're specially gifted to, and goes and tries to be the person that they're not. But there's often a case of you having a vocation that you're that, whether you became a Christian or not. And when you do become a Christian, the Bible doesn't say to you that you should go immediately and ditch your vocation. What it says actually is relevant to that question is it says every person should stay in the state that they're found in when they were first called. Now here the word calling is used of God calling you to come to God, to Him. And sometimes the calling that you have to become a Christian is what that reference is to when it talks about your calling. So, when He first calls you to become a Christian, stay in what you are unless you're told different.
And it's referring to in terms of what you do for a living, and where you spend your life's energies. Don't immediately assume that because you become a Christian you should stop being a teacher. Or assume that now you become a Christian you should become a minister. Because that's, you see, that is a worthwhile thing to do. And there are many people who seek to go into Christian work and often the case of those who volunteer to be missionaries, it can happen because in their families and in their church, the idea of being a missionary was elevated to such a place that it would be the best thing that they could do with their lives. But it's actually a mistake to decide to become a missionary because it's a very good thing to be. And just while I'm thinking of it, Bethany is coming in August to speak at our church in a Sunday morning.
And that Sunday morning she will tell of how it's been over there in Africa and she's intending to go back. And sometimes people like Bethany, who she is a very good missionary by the way, who achieves her ends I think very well in terms of the effect upon the outreach of the gospel where she is. But just because someone like Bethany comes doesn't mean that you should become a missionary. Now I'm not speaking against missions, I'm just speaking about the fact that it is a calling to leave your normal vocation and go and take up another one, which is like a full-time service. And I think many mistakes are made where people do that and find it doesn't work.
Do what God calls you to do. But there is a time when your vocation humanly is then overwhelmed by and taken over by something that God tells you to do. And the case of Jesus, that's very definitely the case. And he has to prepare for what eventually will be his death on the cross and his resurrection and return to heaven. And he needs not to stay in the little unknown place or not very well-known place of Nazareth and where the influence is small, but he needs to go where he can begin his public ministry. And that's exactly what happened. So, it's because of the specialty of his vocation that he is then moving down to Galilee. But it's not something that he did just because he knew so well his calling. I'm sure he was beginning to know more and more deeply what he was called to do, to come to be the saviour of the world. But God arranged for him to have this confirmed. And when was the confirmation?
Let's read in verse 16. This is now in Luke where we've got it on the board. And he came to Nazareth where he'd been brought up. And something happens at Nazareth that confirms to him everything that I've been talking about, him coming to know that it's right for him to move to Galilee. He came to Nazareth where he'd been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. And we don't know whether he turned, you'd have to unscroll a little bit to find the passage, or whether they had a set readings that were given. But however it happened, it was on a passage talking about him. And the spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. He's put his spirit on me for this purpose. He's anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. And he sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year, the acceptable year of the Lord. The ESV reads it, proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. Now, I know this is not as well wrapped up this morning, because I've had it changed lying in bed this morning.
And I'm, I'm doing the best I can. But look at verse 19, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord's favour, or proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. Jesus learned in the synagogue, if he didn't already know that he had a part to play in the will of the Father, to announce the time when it would be the time for God's favour to come to a group of people who lived in darkness. This is to people who knew nothing of intimacy with God. They might have had religion, but they didn't know God. The Bible says about the ancient world, by wisdom, they did not know God. There had to be a time when Jesus came and did what was necessary to constitute the gospel. And for there to be people like the Apostle Paul, that God will put his hand on and send them to where that message wasn't known. There's a darkness in this world, in the life of every person who hasn't yet understood the gospel. And here's an area that is in darkness. And the prophecy is telling Jesus, over the one from Isaiah, that he's there to do that task. And one of the things that can happen to us is that we are busy doing what life has dealt to us to do, and suddenly God speaks. And Jesus went down to the synagogue. It was his custom.
And one of the best ways to be a person who finds what God wants for you is that you have godly customs. And this custom was for Jesus to go to the synagogue, where they would go methodically through the Old Testament. And this time, because he was a son returning, they passed to him to read. And it's about him. I am amazed at the times when you're really needing for God to lead you. And some connection that you have, you go and God speaks to you, because the passage that they open up is a passage speaking to you. That's the nature of the word of God. It is a living and active thing. And he reads about himself. I've read this passage many times, and I've always imagined Jesus as giving a sermon. He's found the right passage for the people to know about him. But it's not just for the people to know about him. It's for him to know about him. For him to know the word of God is saying what he's to do, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, or proclaim the year of God's favour.
And I want to develop that in a minute. As part of what this morning, God showed me something in these passages about Jesus. He rolled up the scroll, and he gave it back to the attendant. And he sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say, today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your ears, in your hearing. Jesus, letting him know he's on the right, Jesus being let know he's on the right track, as the Holy Spirit, choosing just his normal custom to do, speaks to him through the scriptures. And my prayer is always, I know that as someone who gives sermons, I don't give very well-organized sermons. I know that. And I've been in knowledge of that ever since I went to college, in the lecture about sermon-making, homiletics it's called, where he kept on getting on my goat, telling me off for not doing it properly. What he didn't know is I used to pray before the sermons. And the college students would come and tell me that God spoke to them.
The same thing happened over in Dallas, where they had a whole rigmarole, they had to learn to do. And I didn't catch on to it. And I'd be told what was wrong with my sermons, but it was just homiletics. But I knew if I prayed before the message, the students would tell me that God spoke to them. There is something about this book. And when you take it seriously, and you recognize that your role is to live under it, not become the big critic of it, over the top. One of the things that it was a problem at college is students would come on fire to be in the ministry, but they often left as dead as doornails, having become experts of their opinion about all things. There's one thing to have a Bible, and you be positioning yourself over it, to another thing, where you have a Bible, and you say, speak Lord, your servant is listening. Today, the scripture said, Jesus has been fulfilled in your ears. So, he had confirmed to him through that moment in Nazareth, and he's going to have confirmed by something that happens next. Let's keep reading. Everybody's speaking well about him, etc. But then comes in another thing. Is not this Joseph's son? And in a small town, how the children get on and grow up, and are watched by the parents, and some succeed and some don't. And they're all got connections.
They go on and ask, I think this is a passage where they say, are not his sisters with us? I can't spot it just yet. But they were aware of all the family connections or not connections. And there happens some reaction in the church. Well, it's actually not a church. Yeah, it's depending on what you call the church. It's a synagogue of the Jewish people. And they're all speaking well of him at first. And he said to them, doubtless, you'll quote to me this proverb, physician, heal yourself. And how that applies is that he's been doing miracles and people being healed elsewhere, and they want him to do a few miracles for them. What we have heard you did at Capernaum in the previous visit, doing your own hometown as well. And truly, I say to you, he replied, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel. In the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up and three years and six months as a big famine came over all the land and Elijah was sent to none of them, but only the widow of Zarephath. So, land of side, not really truly Jewish land to a woman who was a widow.
There were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elijah, and none of them were cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. When I heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with anger with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town, brought him to a brow of a hill and it was which he was built so they could throw him down the cliff. They were that angry. They were going to get rid of him over the cliff. But it wasn't the time for him to die there. But passing through the mist, he went away. Now, how did that leave Jesus about Nazareth being a good place to operate from? Well, that's why I think the scriptures tell us that he retreated not only from the Pharisees, he retreated from the littleness and the jealousies of Nazareth to somewhere more expansive where he could do his work. And that's a very interesting thing. Well, what's very interesting about these passages is that every time you're reading about Jesus doing something, and especially when it tells about his ministry things that he does, there's one word that keeps coming in. I'm not sure whether I can see it best in Luke or in Mark or in Matthew.
But there's a word that happens in the storyline that happens again and again. And we'll go back to Matthew to have a look. So put up again, please, Matthew's gospel in chapter three, where we're looking through in chapter four. And the little word is here in the section of wording from just after the quote about the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light. And it says from verse 17, did we get there? Down the bottom. Verse 17. From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Excuse me, the kingdom of heaven is at hand from that time. Now there's something in the passage, I'm sure it's not very obvious just from the words and how they might greet you. But there's something there that's exceptionally important. From that time, it is Jesus' awareness of the time. From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
What is this business of the kingdom of heaven is at hand? Now, you know, the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is the same thing. There are some people who believe there's two different kingdoms and one's of the kingdom of heaven and the other's the kingdom of God. I don't know how you keep God out of the kingdom of heaven and have it in another one. But it's the same idea. The Jewish people used to talk about God and say heaven knows. We do it too. It means God in heaven. And the kingdom of heaven and that kingdom is a kingdom that's brought to earth by the Messiah. That's what a Messiah is. The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me. And one of the things the Messiah did was to lead in the kingdom on earth. So, the kingdom of heaven is not just you're going to heaven. That's a complete misunderstanding of the Old Testament prophecies. The kingdom of heaven is something that we should be praying for on earth. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. It's telling us that there's something about imminently to happen. By imminence I don't mean there's two types of using the word the other Sunday I was talking about. The son is imminent in the Father and imminent in the Holy Spirit. That's an imminent with an A in it. But the imminent with an E in it, I double M I N E N T. It's got an I in two places. Imminent means to about to happen at any moment. My family tell me when I stand too near the edge here, they're sitting there worried I'm going to suddenly fall off. It could happen any minute. You better watch. Imminent means it could happen at any minute. There's nothing that necessarily stands in between the second return of Christ. When he does come it's going to happen and it will be there. It's imminent. And Jesus began to preach because what he's preaching about is the kingdom of heaven and it's imminent. It is at hand. Jesus' second return is always something as imminent. It could happen at any moment.
There may be things that are associated with that time coming that we might get signals about and Jesus did talk about there being some signs of his coming and how you better watch the weather because you know how to predict whether it's going to storm or not. So, it is if you watch you'll see certain things indicate that the end is near. Yes, you can see it's getting close but the idea of it being imminent is that it is going to come immediately. There's a sense of immediacy and I thought about this morning's message that what I really should be talking about is from that word immediate. And that God wants us to know that the call that he gives, the call that calls a person from one vocation to another, don't shift if you haven't had it. If God calls you into Christian work to become like Bethany, to be a missionary, then move. And I had recently an opportunity to go down to the Gold Coast and listen to Will Graham as he talks about a crusade that he's going to have down on the Gold Coast. And the message he gave was when God leads you to do something, do it promptly.
It was the simplest message I've heard for a long time. But there was an ecstasy, there was an excitement, there was a sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit and the 200 odd pastors that had gathered there suddenly got caught up in it. God's Spirit, when he moves, he moves us to somehow get closer to what he's doing spiritually and we become aware of the fact that God is on the move and he's wanting us to be involved and he's calling on us to be ready. You need to be ready every single day of your life to be what God wants for you that day. And one thing that I noticed in the passages I was reading through this is the word immediately. As a matter of fact, when you study the New Testament, you know that the gospel, which most uses a little word immediately, is the gospel of Mark. And the scholars put that down to it's the shortest gospel and so it skips over a lot of things and says immediately Jesus did this and immediately you did that. And they put it down to if you shorten your gospel, you're going to make everything look like we're jumping from one miracle to the next and you know it's all happening like that.
But I've got another explanation. It is that when God does things, they're always bringing his action to bear. And that action of God can very often be something immediate that he wants you to do. The immediacy is the immediacy of that little word imminence to get in step with God as to become aware that his things are at hand. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And suddenly it occurred to me what the word repent. That word repent is something that there's a vast range of ideas people have. People got the idea if you get called to repent it means you're meant to cry. Often that crying can happen. But the word repent actually literally what it means is to reverse your verdict. Think again. Change your mind. Get in line with a different opinion than the one you've got. The word repent means to reverse your verdict and the people who put Jesus on the cross had somehow been moved by their leaders. They'd been moved by their own sinfulness. They'd been moved by the scenario and the ugliness of all the power politics. And they went along with Jesus being put up before Pilate and they eventually got led by their leaders to cry out crucify him, crucify him. And the people who were the people of Jesus' day had cried against him. And then when Jesus went and died on the cross in the first sermon that Peter gave afterwards is the one that you're to blame because you put him on the cross. Now repent. Make another verdict. You said to crucify him. Now you've been a sorrow of what you've done and get right with God and change your verdict because you've got things, you're doing that are not what he wants because you put the Messiah upon a cross.
Oh, the urgency of Jesus' message as he came to this district. The urgency was that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He's talking about the timeliness of God's action which really is giving you a warning that you better get in line. Think again as to what you're doing. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The biggest thing that we have need to repent about is to where we have left Christ. And that generation are going to suffer most in hell because they left him on a cross when he came to be their king. Metaphorically we can be guilty of the same thing where Jesus has provided for us to be our Lord and our Saviour and we leave him for the lesser things of self or whatever it is. One of the biggest things of sin, the theologians try and work out what's the real centre piece of sin. It is when you put someone else, something else, yourself and displace God. The displacement of God in your life is the heart of sin. Pride is a form of it in your estimations where you're more important than God or when your little things that you are good at get to be the focus of your self-worship. We all can do this.
This is not something that is just for a few bad people who are in jail. This is something true of the sinful human heart. Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand and it's the imminence of the kingdom that's calling for repentance, to change the verdict in the light that the time is running out, the time that something's going to happen. When you follow through Jesus in his ministry, the next little section, and it's in this passage, it's almost coming out again and again. I don't know why. I've read this passage many times, never seen this. Walking by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was just walking by. He saw two brothers. Now does not that language tell you he didn't go to grab them because he'd been thinking while he was sleeping, I should go and call a few disciples. Down by the lake's a good place to go. No, he's just walking by. He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting an end into the sea for they were fishermen. He said to them, follow me and I'll make you to become fishers of men. In other words, something more important to be fishing. Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Immediately. It's always struck me that Jesus is rather cruel to call for an immediate decision.
They're there busy doing the good thing with their dad, you know, it's what they should be doing as young men helping in the family business. And he says, follow me, and they jump up and leave dad and off they go. They followed him. Going on from them, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and Johnny's brother, in the boat with Zebedee, their father, mending their nets, and he called them. And immediately, they left the boat and their father and they followed him. The nature of God's call always has. I thought about changing the title of the message, maybe next time when I can organise a bit of it, it's called the immediacy of the moment. Suddenly in my mind, I reflected on a youth song. I got used to having sung the moment of truth has come for you. This moment may never come again. And the idea of the call of Jesus and the need to respond in immediacy. And when God works, often there is this characteristic of that imminence of God's hand from eternity. Eternity is not limited.
But eternity impacts us as we walk through time with this immediacy laid on us. There was a moment where, I'm going to finish in a minute, I won't be long. And I've told you some of this before. But there was a moment when an immediacy came on me. And I'm not talking about my conversion that happened then too. But as a teenager, a young teenager in our church, God did something and there was a revival time amongst that age group of the youth. But it happened because there was one young man, a year older than the rest of us. And he was hanging around intermediate Christian endeavour because he had an eye on one of the girls. So, he didn't want to go up to the elder group. But something happened to him in his personal life where God got a grip of him. And it happened through a book. And he came across a book which just a few years had been written by the Reverend David Wilkerson. Yeah, that's right. Thank you. And the Reverend David Wilkerson was a Pentecostal AOG pastor.
And he used to take little churches. He's only a young starter up at being such. And he was in some country spot where he was a pastor of a little church. And he had a habit of watching late night TV when God challenged him, why don't you spend time praying? And when he started to pray, they came in Life's Magazine, some news happening down in New York. And it was a group of seven young teenagers who were in a gang. And there'd been some fighting with knives and people died and that sort of thing. And they're in court, very serious charges. And there'd been a picture of them in the court with lost faces. And David Wilkerson saw the picture. And one of these immediate moments happened to him. God laid on his heart to go down and try and help those boys. He had no idea. He wasn't a counsellor. He wasn't anything but a pastor, a young pastor, to go down and help those young lads somehow. He just obeyed. He got down to the court and he found his way in. And the judge wouldn't let him speak or do anything.
So, he got kicked out by the judge. But there was a newspaper man there with a flashlight, you know, and took a picture of his despondent face as he's pushed out of the court. And it gets onto the news about this pastor being kicked out of the court. But of course, the people who read the newspaper were also the young fry who were in the gangs. He, per favour of the newspaper flashlight, was now looked on positively by the gang leaders. He began to witness to them. And many came to Christ. And they started the happening in New York that ended up in the book. And the book was called The Cross and the Switchblade. And in Adelaide, amongst the youth, where I was, that fellow one year older, he read the book. And it's what set him on fire. And he looked at the rest of us. And he came along to our meetings. And because the church could find no leader, we were left to our own devices.
He said, I'll read you a book. The fire that started in Tabor Wilkerson and led to a movement that ended up with a whole lot of ministries. We have them in Brisbane, come from Teen Challenge or whatever they call it. That happened in us. What God did when his spirit moved, what God did when his spirit moved across another continent, happened in a call that we got, just as they did. We didn't have any big drug addicts. And we didn't have people with knives. Or in Hindley Street in Adelaide, you could get into a knife fight. But other than that, Adelaide's pretty calm compared to New York. But we went out street fishing. We went and talked to people. We saw God at work. Because when the spirit moves, he's always in the now. There is an immediacy in what God does when his spirit's on the move. Immediately, they left the boat, their father, and followed Jesus. Immediately, Jesus in Galilee is going about and things are happening and he's healing people. I haven't even got to where his ministry started by preaching.
We'll save that for another time. But here is Jesus understanding something about the leadings of God. They're always immediate. They need us to get up and follow one way or the other. And who knows what it is in your life that he's calling on you to do today. If it is that you're not certain that you know Christ, knowing him happens to people in a quiet home. God doesn't have a formula and he has to do it the same way every time. But if you're not certain that you've gotten through to Christ or he's gotten through to you, whichever way you want to look at it, if you're not sure that you belong to him and you've had his action in your heart to change it. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away. All things have become new. Then you need to do something about it and seize the immediacy of the moment. Come and talk to me. Send me a text or tell Michelle that's more secure.
My phone works sometimes and I have a sneaking suspicion it's because of something I don't do right that it doesn't always work. But let me know and I'll come and talk to you. My purpose will be to say, do you need to know Christ? Do you want him to be the Lord of your life? Do you want him to lead you in those spiritual things that have to do with the kingdom of God? And we'll be in prayer to see that that happens. But do it immediately. When he calls, leave Nazareth. Go to Galilee, if that's what he's calling you. Do whatever it is he tells you to do. That's what Jesus said at the wedding feast of Cana of Galilee. Whatever he tells you, you do it. It's one of the secrets of the Christian life. When he tells you something, just do it. Amazing how simple a secret that is. But it is because of the immediacy of the moment of what Jesus leads us in. Let's have a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, I know I've touched on a lot of deep things here. I only wish somehow; I could know how to lay it out more simply. But Lord, I pray that your Holy Spirit will be working in us corporately as a church and working in us individually to do with the kingdom of God. May your kingdom come. May your will be done in us as it is in heaven. Clearly, it's talking about earth because it says as it is in heaven. So parallel to your will being done in heaven, now in us. Do your will, we pray, and help us to turn to be willing to do it, we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.