Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 23 2013 - Luke 21:29-22:13 – My words will not pass away

There are few things so unappetising and indigestible as to have to eat your own words. You have made some grand statement of what you will do and, in the end, you fail to do it. You have taken great joy in setting someone right on a particular point only to find out that they were right all along and you were quite wrong. You have been caught out. Your words have been shown to be mere hot air.

Given our propensity to get tripped up by our own words, what kind of person would dare to say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”? None but Jesus (Luke 21:33). He can say such things because he is the Word incarnate. He is the one through whom all things were created at the beginning. He is the one by whom all things are sustained. He is the one who can command the wind and waves and they obey him. He is the one who can give sight to the blind, heal the sick and raise the dead by a simple word. He is the one who taught like no other; his words carry weight and authority. His word preceded the formation of heavens and earth and it will outlast this present creation.

Jesus speaks these words to assure the disciples that his kingdom will come. They will soon see him dragged off to trial and crucifixion; but his kingdom will come. They can do nothing to him that he has not foreseen and spoken of often. Indeed, Jesus says, “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.  As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place” (21:29-32). The very things that they will witness in the next few days will lay the foundation of his kingdom that will never pass away.

Soon they will hear his word of command to take the good news concerning him into all the world and, as they obey, they will face opposition, beatings and death – but his kingdom must come. This small Jewish sect will capture the attention of the Mediterranean world as thousands come to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord – for his kingdom must come. The Gospel will be preached in every nation and people from every race and language will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord – for his kingdom must come.

And one day, this present heavens and earth will pass away. At the power of his word, the word through which they were created, they will be rolled up and thrown aside to be replaced by a new heavens and a new earth, and every knee shall bow to him and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father – for his kingdom shall come.

There is power in the words of Jesus because there is power in the person of Jesus. He is the word made flesh. His words accomplish his purpose. His declaration of the kingdom gives flesh to the kingdom, it brings it into being, it substantiates the kingdom; “No one ever spoke like this man.”

Living God, I marvel at the words of the Lord Jesus. His words have given me life. Help me to hear his words and to know their continuing power at work in my life. Through the Spirit of the risen Saviour may these words become enfleshed in me and repeated in everything I say and do. So may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Apr 23 2019 - 1 Samuel 8 – The people ask for a king

The family of Eli had been rejected because of the ungodly behaviour of Eli's sons; now Samuel's sons seem to be going the same way – "they turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice" (1 Samuel 8:9). They were not fit to succeed Samuel as judges in Israel. How can this cycle of corruption be brought to an end? The elders of Israel put their heads together and thought that they had a solution. They came to Samuel and asked for a king to be appointed to rule over them.

The response of both Samuel and of the Lord may, at first sight, seem puzzling. The Book of Judges had pointed forward to the necessity of a king to end Israel's anarchy and to bring peace and order. Why then should this request grieve Samuel and provoke the Lord to say that the people had rejected him, the Lord, as their king?

The answer to this lies in the nature of the people's request; they ask for a king to lead them just like the other nations have (8:5). Their model for leadership is taken from the nations around them. They want a military leader, one who will rule by his own might and power and who devote his efforts to maintaining that power. Samuel is told to warn the people of what such a leader will be like. He will raise an army from the best young men in Israel. It will become a military machine which will devour the resources of the land. He will prop up his own power through an elaborate hierarchical structure of officials. He will raise taxes to support this machine and maintain his own lifestyle. This is the model of kingship and of government in the nations round about. This is what the Israelites are asking for – they want to "be like all the other nations" (8:20). And if this is what the king they get they will indeed be like all the other nations, they will lose their distinctiveness as the people of God – a people over whom the Lord is their king.

This is the model of government that prevails among the nations to this day (see Matthew 20:25) – even those nations which do not have a leader whom they call a "king".

But this is not the model of kingship which God had purposed for his people. He is their king, and any human king appointed to rule over them must reflect the character of God himself and mediate God's rule. This alternative model, very different from the kings of the nations, is glimpsed in an admittedly imperfect fashion in David, the shepherd king, a man after God's own heart. It appears in all its fullness and perfection only in the Lord Jesus Christ, the servant King.

What kind of model of leadership do we want in our churches? What kind of leadership do we want in our homes and in our workplaces? What kind of leadership do we look for in our nation? In times of crisis we often hear the call for strong leadership. But think for a moment of the strong leaders of history who have established empires in their own name and crushed all opposition. Is this really what the world needs more of?

Sovereign God, thank you for the Lord Jesus, the Servant King. Keep us from hankering after the patterns of power that predominate in this world. Help us rather to follow King Jesus in devoting ourselves to a life of grateful service whether in the church, in our society or in the world. Keep us from seeking glory and praise for ourselves, for the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Peter Misselbrook