How will we know when God’s Kingdom has come? What will it look like?
Jesus tells us in this passage:
As you go, declare publicly that the kingdom of heaven has arrived. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse people with skin diseases, cast out demons. (10:7-8)
As we progressively fill out our understanding of the “kingdom” Jesus was talking about, this passage is immensely helpful. Kingdom has very little to do with what takes place in a church building. Here we see that “kingdom” describes a state in which a person lives. Kingdom-life is marked by wholeness. Kingdom-life is when all is as it should be. When Kingdom arrives in a person’s life, oppression is ended, provision is present, cleanliness is restored, dead things others had given up on are brought back to life, and hope returns. Now that sounds like a kind of life to preach about!
But before we can enjoy life under the Crown, we must take up our Cross:
Anyone who doesn’t pick up their cross and follow after me doesn’t deserve me. If you find your life you’ll lose it, and if you lose your life because of me you’ll find it. (10:38-39)
There is very little in this chapter that makes sense apart from the principle in this passage. Jesus is sending his disciples out into Judea to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (10:6). He warns them sternly that their mission is not an easy one. It will be subsistence living. Dangerous people will surround them. They will be dragged into court on trumped-up charges. Their work will even bring strife in their own families from those who can’t accept their new calling.
God will provide for them. And there are worse things than suffering physically for the Kingdom. But if the crowds can’t all accept Jesus, why do they think the crowds will accept them, his servants?
The disciple isn’t greater than the teacher; the slave isn’t greater than the master. (10:24)
Jesus wears the crown of his kingdom today. But first he had to take up his cross at Calvary.
We his disciples will have to do the same.