Community Group Study Notes
Have someone in your group provide a 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
What is one thing that God taught you through this message?
What descriptions were given of the future kingdom? Why is it important that we understand this?
How does the promise of the future kingdom affect our daily lives in the present kingdom? What difference would it make in the world around us?
What is one action step that you can take in light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today?
I wonder when it happened to you. You may not remember right off the top of your head. It may have felt long buried from some things that you've thought about from your past, but I wonder when it happened to you. What I'm talking about is the moment where you experienced something, something deep inside of your heart, something deep inside of your soul. Something that was unexpected and unexplained happened and it was the first time that you got a real sense of your insides leaping up and thinking to yourself, "There could be something better and more beautiful than the world that we live in right now."
Maybe if you're younger that occurred through some kind of imaginative things that you've done when you've watched maybe movies or something along that line. If you're younger, maybe it was when you were watching some of the Thor movies and you saw the kingdom of Asgard and you thought to yourself, "Man, I would love to go there." Or maybe it was when you were watching the Black Panther and you saw Wakanda and you were like, "That's what I'm talking about. That's where I want to be." Or maybe it's when you saw the Hobbit and you saw the shire and the peace and serenity that was there, or when you saw Rivendell, the place where the elves would dwell and you thought to yourself, "Oh, that is what I long for there."
But for me it was when I was young. And even though I am still extremely young, I am old enough. I must confess I am old enough to remember watching TV shows when I was younger in black and white. Some of you remember that, some of you don't admit that, some of you know that you're also older than I am. But I remember watching some of these shows in black and white. So it wasn't a surprise to me when I sat down for the very first time and I watched the movie, The Wizard of Oz. And The Wizard of Oz started in black and white. And you're seeing Dorothy in Kansas and all of her family. But then I had two moments in that particular movie where everything just kind of ... it was a Whoa moment for me.
The first was when Dorothy in her dream landed in Oz from Kansas after the cyclone and all of that. And she landed there, and everything went from black and white to technicolor, as they would say. And I just was like, "Oh, that's so cool." Because you forget when you're watching black and white and you're used to it, that there's actually color in the world. Right? And so then after that, as I was watching this movie unfold, there was a second time where my heart just leaped inside of me. And that's when they were making their way through the yellow brick road and finally came to a place where there was an open field, but in the distance you saw the Emerald city. And I remember thinking to myself, I was just a kid, but inside something was actually crying out saying, "I wish I could go there. I would love to go there. That place looks like a place that I really want to be."
So you may not have thought about that in a long time, but maybe there's something similar in your heart and in your mind that has occurred that kind of set off this imaginative, longing inside of you for something that's better, for something that's more beautiful even than that which we see right now. You can imagine my disappointment when Dorothy finally got to the city and she went in to see the great Oz, and then ultimately Toto came and pulled the curtain back and got to see there was a dude back there in levers. It was just like some little guy. And I was like, "I am so disappointed." Have you ever been disappointed like that? You've got an image of what you think something is going to be and then you ultimately find yourself disappointed because it seems the curtain got pulled back.
Now, even though that's the case, even though when we have these dreams of grand juror for maybe a place, or a world, or a kingdom, that's more beautiful and better than even the one that we're living in right now, even though that's the case, even though we continue to get disappointed, the longing doesn't go away. The yearning doesn't leave us. It's like even after all of these disappointments, you'd think we would just kick it to the curb and go, "I'm done with that." But it doesn't happen. Still there's something inside that continues to call out for that very thing. You know what I'm saying? I still feel it from time to time. And because it doesn't let go of me, I don't let go of it. And it even bleeds into when I'm doing things with my kids when they were younger.
For instance, when my kids were much, much younger, they're old now like they're 23 and almost 20. When they were young kids, we went to Glen Falls Park, which was in Williamsville. It's a place if you're watching in Canada or outside of our state or the United States, it's nearby. It's got a nice little waterfall there and there's some places to walk. And if you go across the street from where the waterfall is, you can go in some little trails that are back there that wind along the Ellicott Creek river or Ellicott Creek basically. So we kind of walked through there and there was a bunch of places we explored, and tried to look and see if there were any fish in there, never seen them, but we still continued to look. And we walk all the way through. And when you finally get to the very back of this, you walk all the way down it, you come to this open field and way in the distance on a hill, there's a castle.
Maybe you've been there. When we first came to that, I had my boys and I was like, "Oh man, there is a castle up there on the hill." Ed Sheeran would approve of the castle on the hill. Some of you that are older are going, "Who's Ed Sheeran and what are you talking about?" Some of you that are younger are going, "He's not as old as I thought he was." There's this castle. So I start dreaming of who inhabits the castle, who the creatures or the magical people that are inhabiting the castle and what they may be doing. And we would sneak from tree to tree in this field. Probably shouldn't have been there by the way, so just in case I'm confessing at this point. And we would sneak from tree to tree and we would look up into the castle and I would tell stories to them as we would look into the castle. We didn't get super, super close, we got pretty close, but it was still this thing that we did when we were younger.
And sometimes they would say, "Let's go down to the Creek and let's walk all the way to the castle." And it was a really cool thing to be able to do. Imagine, however, when they got a little bit older and their disappointment was in the fact that they found out that the castle was not really a castle, it was a senior living residence that used to be a convent. They were a little bit disappointed at that point, right? Because they had dreams of what this place would be. It's still a beautiful place, a beautiful building. So what I realized is this, is that every single time, no matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter what these dreams are that we have, every single time the curtain does get pulled back. Doesn't it?Every single time the curtain goes back, but still our hearts don't quit yearning.
Sometimes we look at the present world that we live in or the present nation that we're in, in the United States, or if you're watching from Canada, in Canada, and we see the beauty and we see the good, but none of us are naive enough to think that the curtain hasn't been pulled back and that we see things that are ugly and dark and gross. So we see it all, but still inside of us, there is this great longing. Well, imagine living 2000 years ago in Israel. And Israel, by the way, that had grown up learning the story about king and kingdom, which I actually summarized for you last week. And if you haven't watched that, you should go back and check it out. This idea of from Genesis to Malachi where the whole of the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament, there's this story of a king and a kingdom. And they had grown up on this story.
This is exactly what they had longed for and hoped for. But everybody that was living 2000 years ago, during that time they had seen in their history, dreams come and dreams go. They had seen a kingdom established in the line of David, but they had seen so many kings after that that led to, by and large, disappointment. What they hoped they would see for the kingdom of Israel and ultimately the kingdom of God, where the king would be on his throne and ruling from Israel. All that they had hoped for and all that they desired seemed to come back in terms of disappointment, every age, every generation feeling disappointed. And then Jesus shows up and Jesus says, "I've got good news. It's about the kingdom of God. It has drawn near."
You can imagine what's going on in the imaginations of people who have been baptized in the whole of the Hebrew scripture, who've lived the narrative of king and kingdom throughout all of their history. And Jesus says, "Here I am, the King who is bringing the kingdom of God near." Not only did he say that, but it was accompanied with signs and miracles and wonders. And everybody is thinking to themselves, "Man, the kingdom of God has come near." Do you know what started happening through the context of his ministry? Expectation is what happened because everybody had an idea of what this was supposed to look like, the expectation of what this was supposed to look like. And ultimately their thought was a king that was going to overthrow Rome and was going to rule from Israel and that was that. That was what they were intending to see happen.
So Jesus, when he is coming to the conclusion of his ministry timeframe, as he's making his way and is now into Jerusalem, making his way toward Jerusalem for the very last time, by the way, in his earthly ministry decides that he's going to tell a story. And when he tells that story, he sets that story up and we begin to understand why he's telling the story. Listen to the words of Luke chapter 19 beginning in verse number 11. While they were listening to this, Jesus went on to tell them a parable because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once. See, that he knew that they had expectations, right? Significant expectations of who and what the king was going to be, the Messiah, the savior, the Lord, right? And Jesus, as he's coming into Jerusalem, decides to tell them a story because they thought the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
So what Jesus is doing in this story is he's reminding us of this, listen carefully. He's reminding us that there is a kingdom that has come and there is a kingdom that is coming. You see, for some of us that's hard for us to get our heads around a little bit, but we need to be able to live in that the idea of the already and the not yet kingdom. That there's a kingdom that has come in the person of Jesus and there's a kingdom that is coming in its final consummation. So Jesus begins the story by saying this, listen to how he begins this parable, Jesus said, "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king And then to return." I find it interesting that what Jesus does here right out of the gate is he says that this is a story that he's going to tell about a king who goes to a distant country and then ultimately returns.
Now for us, what we need to understand is that what Jesus is doing here is he's speaking actually directly to Israel. And the context of the story is aimed in the direction of Israel. And what it's going to be doing, the story is going to work in such a way that he's going to talk to Israel about what their responsibility is and ultimately their accountability for rejecting the king. So even though it's aimed at Israel, I want to remind you that it's also a glimpse into what is coming. It's not only something that has kind of a real application in real time to a real people, but it's also a foreshadowing or a foretaste of what is actually going to come. A story about a king who goes away and returns, a story of a kingdom that is already, but not yet. This is the story.
Maybe you could jot down this thought because I think it's a centering thought for us. And it's simply this. When the king comes back, the kingdom comes in full. When the king comes back, the kingdom comes in full. In other words, the kingdom is present now, but the kingdom is also a future reality. And while we are going to talk about the present kingdom next week, we're going to talk about the future kingdom this week. So I guess the question would be this, if we're talking about both the present kingdom, which we'll talk about next week, and we're talking about a future kingdom this week, what does the future kingdom of God look like? That's a question for us to be able to ask, right? What are the characteristics of the future kingdom of God?
Well, I'm going to actually pull out, I'm going to utilize this passage to pull out a couple of truths without going through the whole story, because I'm not going to basically exposit the entirety of the story. I'm going to pull out a few trues because I'm not just talking about what Jesus was saying to Israel, I'm actually talking about how this is foreshadowing what's to come. And the first reminder that we have is this, is that the government will rest on King Jesus. That's what we know about the future kingdom of God, that the government will rest on King Jesus. Look with me in verse number 15 of our passage here in Luke chapter 19, it says in Jesus story, he says that he was made king however and returned home. What happens in the story is that the king actually assigns some of those who are as servants. And he gives them a measure of money. It's called a minor in the tax. It's about three months wages or so. And he says, "I want you to put this to work while I'm gone." And then ultimately they're accountable for what they've done with that. And then Jesus or the king in this story deals with those enemies of the king who actually didn't want him to be king.
We'll come to that in just a moment. But if we understand Jesus to be the king in the story that he's telling here, and that's, generally speaking, the consensus. If we understand Jesus to be the king here, what we know is this, is that Jesus has the authority to rule and reign. That's what we see with the king. The king in this story has the authority to rule and reign. He assigns, he holds to account, and he deals with everybody. Why? Because he's the king. You see what I'm reminded of in this story, as it points us forward, not just to the already kingdom, but to the not yet kingdom, is that the government actually rests on Jesus. And we have the testimony of the prophets. We have the testimony of the Psalms in the Old Testament that actually teach us that idea.
In fact, you may remember what Isaiah said in Isaiah 9, I shared this with you last week, "For to us a child is born unto us and to us son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, prince of peace of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with listen to this justice and righteousness from that time on and forever, the zeal of the Lord almighty will accomplish this." Isaiah, by the way, when he tells us about this king that is going to come, that is going to sit on David's throne forever and is going to rule with both justice and righteousness, Isaiah is actually not done talking about that because if you fast forward a few chapters into Isaiah chapter 16, it says, "In love a throne will be established. In faithfulness a man will sit on it. One from the house of David, one who in judging seeks, read it with me, justice and speed's the cause of, read it, righteousness."
There it is again. He's talking about the nature of this government that rests on the shoulders of the one king who is going to come. And he says that the nature of this government is not only that it's not ending, but it will be characterized by justice and righteousness. Well, the Psalms says the exact same thing. Listen to what Psalm 89 says, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Love and faithfulness go before you." Talking about the rule of God, even specifically in and through Jesus, righteousness and justice are the foundation for that. In fact, when we move into the New Testament you will also see the writer of Hebrews in the very first chapter talking about the son of God, Jesus, and making application along the same line, listen to what he says.
He says, "But about the son," he says, "Your throne O God will last forever and ever. A scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. And you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore, God your God has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." And then we know the forever nature of the kingdom because we see in the book of Revelation, as you've probably heard set to music, the words of Revelation chapter 11, the seventh angel sounded his trumpet. And there were loud voices in heaven, which said the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah. And he will reign forever and ever. And do you know how he's going to reign? With justice and righteousness. Do you know that those terms right there, justice and righteousness, are paired together over 36 times in the scripture itself. And that as you pair them together, the reminder is this is that God, listen to this, his justice and his righteousness will touch every sphere everywhere.
You see sometimes we have terms that are in the world that we live in that have been hijacked terms. And they actually mean something different to people now than they do if we are looking at the text of scripture because, listen to this, many scholars would argue that the pairing of justice and righteousness together in the course of the entirety of scripture could be translated, stay with me, social justice. Some of you are going, "I don't like that at all." Your problem, not God's. It's not talking about maybe the same thing that your idea is because that term got basically hijacked, John Rawls, 1970s roughly who was both liberal and secular and took that term in a different direction in terms of what the biblical term means. But let's not back away from what the Bible actually says. The Bible says the government is going to rest on Jesus' shoulders, King Jesus, and listen to this, that he is going to reign in justice and righteousness, and it will touch every nook and cranny of everything everywhere in the universe. Who doesn't long for that? This is the hope that we have.
Do you know what that means? That means for us, in a real practical way, that the future kingdom means that there's not going to be any more discrimination. There's not going to be any more broken systems that oppress. There's not going to be any violence or brutality by anyone toward anyone. There's not going to be any more red lining. There's not going to be anymore anarchists and chaos, people who hijack may be legitimate protests and loot and burn buildings down and destroy people's livelihoods, not caring whether your skin color is black, brown, or white, or whether your uniform is blue. Justice and righteousness will be the government of King Jesus. And how we long for that day.
What kind of kingdom is the future kingdom? Well, it's a kingdom where the government rests on Jesus. But secondly, it's also a reminder that it's a shared rule and eternal life that are ours, shared rule and eternal life are ours. Some of you are going, "Whoa, really?" Yes. In fact, listen to the parable that Jesus told. And he says this, that the King, this is in verses 15 through 17, the king sent for the servants to whom he had given the money in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, "Sir, your minor has earned 10 more." The King said, "Well done my good servant. Because you have been trustworthy in very small matters take charge of 10 cities." Here was the reminder. He's given his servant something to do. And as they have done that faithfully, he has given them opportunity to be able, listen to this, to be able to rule with him yet under him. This was what this king was giving us the opportunity to be able to see.
Well, that's exactly what we are promised in the future kingdom, because when you read Jesus, when he gives this apocalyptic vision to John, which we call the book of the Revelation, in there you have Jesus speaking to the churches. And in one of those, Revelation 3: 21, listen to what Jesus says at the end of this in verse 21, he says, "To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne just as I was victorious and sat down with my father on his throne." So for those who have confessed Jesus, who have followed Jesus with all their heart, who have been saved by grace through faith because of what Jesus has done on the cross, dying for sin, rising from the dead and giving us the hope of being reconciled to the father by faith in Him, for those who have been regenerated, transformed, and who persevere, he says, "I will give you the right to sit with me on my throne just as I was victorious and sat with my father on his throne."
Some of you are going, "Now, wait a second Jerry. How big is that chair?" The picture is not of a chair. The picture is of rule and of reign. This isn't about sitting down on a chair. This is about us ruling and reigning with the Lord, Jesus Christ, but yet under the Lord, Jesus Christ. What do you think Paul meant in Ephesians when he's talking about this glorious vision of the church, the redeemed people of Jesus Christ? What do you think he meant when he was talking about what Jesus has done and what he's doing in and through the church? Listen to what he said in Ephesians chapter one, "And God placed all things under Jesus' feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Do you know what we're reminded of in this text? Is that Jesus when all is said and done, everything is under his feet, and he is filling the entirety of the universe with his rule and he is doing it through us, through his people.
He is filling the entirety of the universe with his rule of righteousness and justice. And he is allowing us to participate in that reality. And do you know how long we get to do it? Forever. Listen, listen to what Jesus said when Jesus was talking very specifically in Mark's gospel as Mark records this, Jesus was talking about what not only happens when we serve him and are faithful to the gospel and are faithful to serve him in this present age, but also what happens for the age to come. Listen to his words, it's in Mark 10, it says, "Truly, I tell you Jesus replied, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age." Homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields. By the way, some of you are going, "What? what are you talking about?"
Well, you may have a nice family, right? You got maybe a mom, dad, husband, wife, some brothers, some sisters, whatever, and then you come to faith in Jesus, your family just got bigger. More homes, more family members. It just got bigger in this present age. And he says, "Now, that's also going to come along with persecutions in this present age." But notice what he then says, "And in the age to come eternal life." You saw there are many times that when we see the term eternal life, that its focus is actually on quality of life, not as much on quantity of life, but every time eternal life is used, it has in view both of those things. Eternal life is a different quality of living and it is also a long, long time. Somebody said, "Can you define eternal life?" Yes, it's forever with the ends cut off. Never stops ever. This is the glorious nature of what we have been promised that this future kingdom, not only does the government rest on Jesus, but he shares with us this rule and reign and we get to do that eternally.
But let me give you a sobering truth. And it's this, in the future kingdom enemies are vanquished. Enemies are vanquished. If you look actually at the story that Jesus told here, you find something interesting in the story after he says, basically the king was going away to a far country and he was going to return. And he gave some of his servants some money and told them to put it to work. And then in verse 14, it actually says this, "But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don't want this man to be our king.' But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and kill them in front of me." Now, that sounds staggering when we listen to it. Jesus, wasn't trying to be overly sensational here. This was common language when you talked about kings and conquering and wars. This was common language. So it wasn't so crazy sounding to the people that heard it there. Our ears are a little more sensitive, maybe to those things. It wasn't so sensitive to them.
But what the reminder was is this, is that Jesus, listen, talking about Israel. Jesus had warned them and would warn them very specifically, that because they did not receive the king who had come to them when God showed up in the person of who he is, how he longed to gather them as a hen does her chicks. But he said, "But you would not." And as a result, no stone is going to be left on another. You're going to be hemmed in. You're going to be circled. And you know what? That's exactly what happened in 70 AD when the Romans came in under general Titus and they destroyed everything there. And people were killed. Now, believers were warned and many of the believers, maybe even most got out of there. They were warned. But generally speaking, the enemies of the king were vanquished.
Now he spoke this directly in terms of the condemnation of Israel. But when we look at this in the kind of foretaste of what we're going to see, we all know that this is going to be true when Jesus returns, when the king shows back up. In fact, this is going to be bigger. Listen, this is going to be so big that Jesus is actually dealing with the devil and every single scheme that the devil has and those who have bought in saying that we don't want the king for ourselves. Everything is going to be dealt with. Wrongs will be made right. Listen to what Revelation 19 says. It says, "I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called faithful and true with justice."
Same statement about the same king, "With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire. And on his head are many crowns, just in case you were confused as to whether or not this was the king. He has a name written on him that no one knows, but he himself, he is dressed in a robe, dipped in blood. And his name is the word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron sceptre. He treads the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name, King of Kings and Lord of Lords."
Jesus will deal with every enemy that has stood in opposition including Satan and all of his minions. Listen to this, enemies will be vanquished. And do you know what the great enemy that stares us all in the face? Yes. Is it the world, the flesh and the devil? Absolutely. And is Jesus going to deal with all of that? Absolutely. But do you know what gets us kind of right now? Death, death. Do you know the Bible actually calls that an enemy? And do you know that when Jesus actually secures the kingdom and hands it to the father, that he's going to deal with that as well, because through his death and resurrection, his death killed death on our behalf?
Listen to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, he says, "Then the end will come when Jesus hands over the kingdom to God the father after he has destroyed all dominion authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death." This is the hope that we have, that this future kingdom is one where Jesus is the king, and the government rests upon his shoulders, and he will rule in justice and in righteousness. And it is going to be a shared rule that we get to rule under him as he fills the universe with his rule of justice and righteousness. He is doing so through us, his people, but know this, his enemies will be dealt with because you cannot stand against holiness. You cannot stand against truth. You cannot stand against righteousness and not be held accountable for it.
There is a soberness in this, but thank God that the enemy of death that seems to always have the last word did not have the last word in King Jesus' life. And it will not have the last word in those of us who have put our faith in him. "Though we die, yet shall we live", Jesus said. This future kingdom is something we all need to lift our eyes and look forward to. But there's a last reminder that I want to give you. And I'm kind of ending where I started. What kind of kingdom is the future kingdom of God? It's one that's the fulfillment of all we've longed for. This kingdom is the one that fulfills all that we longed for. I remind you again, why Jesus was telling this story in Luke 19:11. It says while they were listening to this, Jesus went to tell them a parable because he was near Jerusalem. And the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
Israel had expectations, the Jews had expectations. They thought King Jesus was going to come and overthrow Rome, the great empire, seemingly the empire to end all empires. That Jesus was going to overthrow Rome and establish his rule right then right there. So they didn't know what to do with a suffering and dying Messiah. They had expectations, but Jesus had a much better plan. Jesus' plan was not just to have a political kingdom, although the reality of that is going to be true in the future. He would say to Pontius Pilate and two others, "My kingdom is not of this world." That his kingdom is much bigger. And he is claiming for himself the souls of people. And with that comes the whole of those people. And that this would be something that not only has a real working out in the now, which we'll talk about next week, but has a real application for the future.
You see, just like Jesus is as king, the intersection of heaven and earth come together in one because Jesus is fully man and fully God at exactly the same time. As I've said, many times when I say he's 100% man and 100% God, that doesn't mean he's 200% anything. It means he's 100% God, man. And what you have is you have this intersection of heaven and earth come together in the incarnation of Jesus, the word who was with God and who was God and who became flesh and dwelt among us, the intersection of heaven and earth come together. And do you know what the new future kingdom is going to look like? The intersection of heaven and earth come together.
You see, where we started was in a garden and a garden was a reminder of this abode of God, this beautiful, perfect place, this Edenic existence. But what happened from Eden was the creation of cities in which man was involved. Humanity was involved. Naturally the garden gives rise to cities in the creative imagery of God that he has given to image bearers who are now ruling and have dominion. And so when we get finally to this new kingdom, this new creation, it will both have the garden and the city together, because what happens is heaven and earth now intersect in this beautiful new creation where the king is the one where heaven and earth intersected in one.
In fact, when you begin to read Revelation, and I won't read it all, in chapter 21 and 22, listen to what it says in 21, it says, "And the angel of the spirit carried me away in the spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God. And its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel like a Jasper clear as crystal." Do you know what this reminds me of? That my imagery and the stunning, stunning visual of the Emerald city when I was just a little kid will be like a slum compared to what I am going to witness. This is a stark reminder.
Then he says this in chapter 22, "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life as clear as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life." Now you're talking about a city with a river and trees of life. The picture of the garden bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Gosh, how we need this word. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the lamb will be in the city and his servants will serve him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. There will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun for the Lord God will give them light and they will reign forever and ever.
The picture of this reality is beyond our ability to put into words. We would need an entirely new vocabulary for new creation. Our old vocabulary for old creation just will not do. When we talk about new creation, we need an entirely new vocabulary. But I'll tell you what it does do. It makes something leap within us, doesn't it? It makes us long for something. Now some of you might think to yourself, "Well, I'll be honest with you, Jerry. I'm not longing for anything." So maybe this isn't true. Maybe this is just Wizard of Oz fantasy, and the curtain's going to get pulled back and it's not going to happen. I would remind you graciously that just because you're not hungry does not mean there's no such thing as food.
You see, what happens to us is that when we by faith begin to look to Jesus, Jesus creates this longing inside of us for what will be, for what will come. This was true of the Old Testament faithful, that as they live by faith, this is exactly what God did in their hearts. Listen to what Hebrews 11 says, all these people, these faithful men and women of God, were still living by faith when they died. They didn't receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God's not ashamed to be called their God for he has prepared a city for them. You see, this is what faith does. And I can't think of anybody who has more ably talked about this longing in our hearts than my man crush C. S. Lewis. And when he wrote some very famous kind of piece in mere Christianity that many of you are probably familiar with, he said this, he said, "Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists." A baby feels hunger. Well, there is such a thing food. A duckling it's to swim. Well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire. Well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. Now that one's really famous, but you know me, I like this man.
There's another passage that he wrote in a sermon that he did that turned into a small book called The Weight of Glory that I don't want you to miss either. He says this about longing, "In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I'm almost committing an indecency. I'm the rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you, the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like nostalgia and romanticism and adolescence. The secret also which pierces was such sweetness that when in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent. We grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves. The secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both, we cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience.
We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it. And we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our communist expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Words worth's expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past, but all this is a cheat. If words worth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it. What he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them, it was not in them, it only came through them. And what came through them was longing.
These things, the beauty, the memory of our own past are good images of what we really desire. But if they are mistaken for the things itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers for they are not the thing itself. They are only the scent of a flower we have not found. The echo of a tune we have not heard. News from a country we have never yet visited." I can't think of a better time in our nation for all of us who are believers in Jesus to turn our attention to the king and recognize that the kingdom has come, but that there is a kingdom that is coming. That everything inside of us that longs, aches for a new and better world will be fulfilled completely and totally when the king returns.
Let's bow our heads together. For just this moment, I would ask if you're here and you've never before accepted the invitation that the king has given to you to be seated at his table, to know him, I want to remind you that all of you, all of me has sinned and come short of the glory of God. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot do this in our own works. We cannot somehow good morality our way into his good graces. We're broken and we're sinful and we need saving. And the only way that that happens is through the grace God has shown us in the gift of his son, King Jesus, who announced the kingdom, who died to satisfy the justice of God, who rose from the grave, and who not only has brought in the revelation of the kingdom of God, but who will be returning. Just as he came, he is going to come again. And with him, the kingdom will come in full. My hope is that you put your faith and your trust in King Jesus.
And if you need to understand what that looks like or how we can help you with that in just a moment, John is going to tell you how you can do that. But father, I also pray for those of us in this place who maybe have had too much disappointment in the present kingdom that we exist in, where it seems like every time that we open up our phone or turn on our television, all we hear is division, and hate, and violence, and hurt, and oppression. We need to lift our eyes this day and we need to see the kingdom that is coming so that we can set our mind on eternal things where Christ is and not just on the things of this world. Would you give us that perspective for your glory? We pray now in Jesus name. Amen.