St Luke, Evangelist 10/18/2020
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NEAR
A Sermon by The Rev’d. Robert Kuppler
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Luke, the writer of the 3rd Gospel and also the Acts of the Apostles, was the only non-Jew to
have written books of the Bible; literally 1/3 of the New Testament is from his hand.
A physician, Luke may have also been a slave, as it was not uncommon in that time for slaves
to be educated in medicine so that the family would have a resident physician.
Paul called him “the beloved physician. ” He was a doctor of the body, but thanks to his Gospel
and Book of Acts, on this day the Church also honors Luke as a “doctor of the soul.”
Throughout both of Luke’s writings, women have an important place; first and foremost are the
detailed events surrounding the birth of Jesus. We treasure those first few chapters of Luke’s
Gospel – the angel’s visit to Mary, Mary visiting Elizabeth, then singing what we today call the
Magnificat, the presentation of Jesus in the Temple with Simeon and Anna – all most likely
recounted to him directly from the memory and heart of the Virgin Mary.
Luke also emphasizes healing physical and spiritual, God’s mercy for the suffering, and Christ’s
compassion for sinners. Jesus’ parables – like the Rich Man and Lazarus, and the Good
Samaritan, and the prodigal Son, teach us what the kingdom of God is like.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke detailed the early history of the Church, recording what Jesus
taught and continued to teach His Apostles, highlighting the work of the Holy Sprit, Who
inspired and lead them to spread the Good News of “God’s Kingdom come near,” from
Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. With all this in mind, here is the
Word for today:
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every
town and place where He was about to go … Whatever house you enter say, ‘peace be
to this house!’ and He told them, “When you enter a town and are welcomed … Heal the
sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Lk 10:1-9)
This is the only sermon Jesus gave His disciples to preach – Heal the sick, spread peace, and
proclaim this truth over and over: “The Kingdom of God has come near to you.”
You and I are here today because those 72 were sent, and they went, doing what Jesus
commanded, so that now the Kingdom of God has already come near to you and to me.
Let’s do something to help this truth take hold of us. Say to yourself “The kingdom of God has
come near to ME. Say it aloud, with me: THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAS COME NEAR TO
“What is the Kingdom of God? Where is it? What does it look like? How do I know it when I
see it? How do I know the kingdom is near to me? All Good questions!
The Augsburg Confession, written to explain the Word of God, says that, “Christ’s kingdom is
spiritual; it is the knowledge of God in the heart, it is the fear of God, it is faith, and it is the
beginning of eternal righteousness and eternal life. (Apology XVI, 2-3)
Martin Luther wrote that the kingdom of God is “Simply what we learned in the Creed,
namely, that God sent His Son, Christ our Lord, into he world to redeem and deliver us from the
power of the devil, to bring us to Himself and to rule us as the King of righteousness, life and
salvation, against sin, death and an evil conscience.”
Luther continued, “He also gave his Holy Sprit to teach us this through His holy Word, and to
enlighten and strengthen us in faith, by his power. God’s Kingdom comes to us in 2 ways:
first, here, in time, through Word and faith; and second, there, in eternity, when it comes
through the final revelation.” (Large Catechism, 3rd part, 51, 53)
Simply stated, the Kingdom of God comes near in the Son of God, Jesus. Where Jesus lives in
someone by faith, there is the Kingdom of God. It is both here (in this life) and there (in
heaven, for eternity),
We know about the kingdoms and nations of the world that came about by the power of
human might, and sometimes with wisdom; they have with boundaries and are corrupt with
The Kingdom of God, invisible, with no boundaries, is where King Jesus rules – in the hearts
and minds of we who know Him by faith.
That’s not to say that God’s rule over the human heart is absolute. Why? because we all sin;
every day we fall short, because we continue to live in the here and now, where the devil and
other rulers have influence; but the believer is both sinner and saint because the kingdom of
God has come near, personally
The kingdom of God comes near in Holy Baptism. When you walk by the font and splash the
water on your face, recall that you were first connected to Christ, not by your own effort, but by
His Word doing it all, and say “The Kingdom of God is near to ME.”
When you hear and read the Word of God, say “The Kingdom of God is coming near to me.”
When you come to the Lord’s Table, say “The kingdom of God is coming near to me.”
This is the Kingdom of God – Jesus at work saving and redeeming, working faith in our
hearts, and healing sin-sick souls through His forgiveness earned for you on the cross,
and poured out on you in the Holy Absolution.
As God’s Kingdom comes near and is received, there’s always a response: a willing heart, a
song like Virgin Mary’s; a leap for joy, like John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb; praise and
thanks to God like Simeon and Anna; there will be help, care, and mercy for the sick and
injured; compassion and sacrifice for the innocent victim, like the Good Samaritan; a father
waiting expectantly for the return of his prodigal son, to accept him back home and to shower
him with extravagant forgiveness and joy.
It’s the same with us, because we’re like all of those real people that Luke mentions in his
Gospel, including the 72. We too have been called and sent to bring the Kingdom of God near.
We do this in our strained and broken relationships; healed and forgiven by God, we
respond by striving to bring healing as we forgive others, for Jesus’ sake.
The kingdom of God comes near, when we provide food, clothing and relief for those in need,
bringing hope to those who may have none.
The Kingdom of God comes near, when we, who have received first received mercy, are filled
with compassion and mercy for others, regardless of who they are or from where they have
This, then, is how the kingdom comes near – receiving and believing that the work of Jesus
is FOR ME, then bringing Christ’s gentle and benevolent rule to bear in the lives of those
around us. This is God’s will for us and for His Kingdom.
It’s been said that a “kingdom is where a ruler is ruling.” The kingdom of God is where King
Jesus rules; His kingdom is near: Repent, believe the Good News. Pray, seek and turn to
The Lord every day that He would come near with His healing touch and eternal hope, to
graciously rule in your heart, and then, through you, to others.
There’s an old Vacation Bible School song that goes like this:
Kids of the Kingdom, that who we are; kids of the kingdom, that’s who we are. We love Jesus,
we love the Lord. We love Jesus, we love the Lord.
That’s who we – the Church – are … really. Kids of the Kingdom where King Jesus rules.
It is Pledge Weekend. Because King Jesus comes near through Word and Sacrament, Holy
Absolution and the Fellowship of believers, you and I have the blessed honor and privilege to
commit to the Lord our intentions concerning our tithes and offerings towards His work in the
kingdom here and there.
Many have already sent in their pledges for 2021 – electronically or through the mail; many
more are still anticipated. There are pledge cards available as you leave today, to fill out and
hand in or mail in. With joy and thanks for our King’s benevolent blessings, prayerfully consider
More than a pledge of money, we do this so that we might daily and regularly receive the Lord
as He comes near, remembering with thanksgiving the Jesus’ sacrifice and death, atoning for
the debt of my sin and yours, and accounting it to us as paid in full, as the kingdom of God
continues to come near to us, now, here, and there, for eternity.
May we say and sing J E S U S – He’s the king of me!