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What We Really Need

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As they were finishing the supper and the betrayer had been revealed, and as they were preparing to leave the upper room to go across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives, Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” to cause them to think back to the times He had sent them out, telling them, “Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff…” and again, Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic,” and when the journey would be longer, He gave them this concession:  “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.”

As the eleven thought back to those earlier days when they were sent out by Him and they were able to heal the sick and drive out demons as they preached the good news of the Kingdom of God and preached the Kingdom of Heaven, they answered, “Nothing.” Such was Jesus’ ability to keep their needs supplied, their material needs, that they did not take with them any gold, silver, copper, bread or money… and only when the journey was longer did they need a staff and sandals.  Now that evening after they had shared the supper in a most unusual way, Jesus said, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” There was now a change of tone and a change of instructions, a change because there was about to be the most significant change in the state of this world since Noah finished building his ark.

Just as Noah’s flood or rather, the flood God sent because of Noah’s obedience changed the physical parameters of the world then, so the coming death and rising from the dead of Jesus Christ would once more change the physical parameters of the world.  The world of Noah changed physically because of the flood – the crust was cracked and the world collapsed on itself becoming smaller and denser; gravity increased, water flooded the surface and when they were removed to reveal the land, the ice sheets were formed and the axis of the Earth’s rotation tilted.  The very nature of the soil changed, and as the vegetation regrew, the new soil changed the mix of the plants, ensuring that the unclean animals like the dinosaurs would not survive but others would.  Noah entered the ark and left behind a world that had never seen a rainbow, and came out of the ark to see a world with rainbows in the sky.

As Jesus told them to change the way they prepared for a journey, from taking nothing with them to taking something with them, so He was preparing them for the physical change that was about to happen to the physical world, their physical world.  For the items that Jesus listed for them – gold, silver, copper, money, tunics, sandals, bread and a staff – were all physical items.  What He ensured that they took with them early on was always the message, the power and the authority – the spiritual items.  That did not change with His death and resurrection, for after He rose from the dead He said to them to go and preach the good news with authority to make disciples and with the power to heal the sick and drive out demons, power to be His witnesses.

The dissemination of the spiritual as it were in His absence would cause a change in the physical world; a change that would require a change in what they took with them physically but not spiritually.  And indeed, it is a new world, a new physical world with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for the first time the sun stopped shining for three hours.  The world that emerged from the darkness of crucifixion day is like the world that emerged from the floodwaters.  The curtain in the temple had been physically torn and the city of Jerusalem was rocked with a major earthquake that caused tombs to be opened and people who had died came back to life to walk and enter the city.  Just as Noah and his family beheld a world that resembled nothing of the world they left behind as they entered the ark, so the world that emerged from the darkness is different, even alien, a world in which people who had long died lived and walked amongst the living.  The world may have changed, but the people had not changed.  Just as Noah and his sons did not change, for Noah still found time to get drunk and cursed, so the people who emerged from the three hours of darkness had not changed.  The torn curtain, the earthquake, the darkness, the dead living and walking amongst them did not change Caiaphas and his group nor did it change the eleven.  Caiaphas and the others were still focused only on destroying Jesus, and the eleven were still frightened and fearful as they huddled in that locked room.

Likewise, a change is coming and is now here, a change to the physical world as the birth pains increase and earthquakes, famines and pestilences increase.  A world where soon buying and selling can only be done if you bear the mark of the beast, and a man who calls himself God will be walking the Earth saying unheard of things against God.  However, even as the world is again changing physically, the message, the power and the authority do not change.

Even though Jesus told them, “…if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one,” it is not as if they would really need it, for when Peter drew the sword a few hours later and cut off Malchus’ ear in the olive grove, Jesus rebuked him and said, “Put your sword away! …for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? No more of this!” You see, elect, even though the world was about to change physically and that which they would need to carry with them would also change, these three things will not change:  The message, the power and the authority.

Just as Noah and his family emerged into their new world, three things remained unchanged – the message, the power and the authority of God – for them and for us.  It is just unfortunate that we changed the message and neglected to use the power and lost the authority, that now the need for gold, silver, copper, food, money and even clothes dominate our attention even as we try to live the life God has called us to in Christ.

Instead of recognising the message on resurrection morning and submitting to the authority of those who brought the message so that the power they had received from Jesus would translate them instantly to Galilee, like their boat reached the shore immediately when they disobeyed and chose to go to Capernaum instead of Bethsaida, the eleven chose to disbelieve the message, ignored the authority of one who had her own good news that no man had taught her but Jesus Himself had given her, and never experienced the power that would have set them free from the fear that bound them, and so the renewing of their minds was never completed.

Years or perhaps decades later Paul wrote in a letter:  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. So what is the pattern of this world when it comes to gold, silver, copper, money, bread and clothes?  Is it not the pattern of hoarding for usage for yourself, your family and your friends and to overcome and subdue your enemies?  When Paul spoke of conforming no longer to the pattern of this world, he was speaking of offering our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, that is true.  But does not gold, silver, copper, money, bread and clothing allow the body to be cared for, fed and clothed according to the pattern of this world until the body dies?  Then to truly fulfil this apostle’s advice in offering our bodies as living sacrifices, the only sacrifice worthy unto God is to turn our bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit, into an eternal dwelling for Him as He is eternal.

So to what use did Jesus really have in mind for the money and the sword (which are representatives of the powers of this world – the financial and the military – and when you have these two, you will also get political power and with it, intellectual power) that He would instruct the eleven and therefore us, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one”? Was it to feed ourselves and protect ourselves?  Where would there be the need for that when the power to change water to good wine, to multiply the food and to protect our bodies is with us?

You see, elect, our minds now do conform to the world.  We use our financial power to feed and clothe our family and friends, and our ‘swords’ to protect them, but this is not what Jesus said we are to use worldly goods, that is, worldly wealth, for.  He said, “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” The purse and the sword were to win friends, that is, to change those who are not friends to those who are.  So what did the Lord have in mind for those two swords when the disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords,” to which He replied, “That is enough”? It was obviously not for their defence or His defence.  What purpose was the money and swords for that evening?  It was to win friends for the disciples themselves so that when the crowd came to arrest Him, they, the eleven, would have money to bribe their way out and the handing over of the swords as a peace offering, so ensuring that none of them would be harmed and in a way ingratiate themselves to the Lord’s enemies at that moment.

When He first sent them out, He told them, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel,” which meant the message, the power and the authority were for the benefit of those who belonged to the kingdom of Israel (people of God) to prepare them for the Kingdom of Heaven… for the first message was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near,” but later the message would be about the Kingdom of God after they had demonstrated the power and the authority.  Indeed, the riches of the Kingdom of God He withheld from the Canaanite woman until she humbled herself with faith, and the centurions only received a taste of the Kingdom of God’s wealth because they displayed faith greater than Israel, but to faithless Israel, He healed all their sick and drove out their demons.

So, elect, what has the Lord shown us in the lesson of the purse and the swords?  It is this:  In the new world, the world that has its physical parameters changed by His death and resurrection, we need worldly wealth and the power of that wealth to win friends… that is, it is to be used on those who do not believe, even oppose, so that when it is gone, we are welcomed into eternal dwellings.  Our real need is the eternal dwelling, which is our body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.  To ensure that our body becomes as eternal as the Holy Spirit is, which fulfils what Jesus said, “…and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die,” and to achieve this we must first use the purse, even the sword, to win over those who do not belong to Christ as our friends.  The gold, silver, copper and money is for those who persecute us, hate us and would want to kill us, to win them as friends.  The word ‘win’ as used by the Lord means there is a war, an effort, a risk.  It (the worldly wealth, that is) is not to be used on those who are already our friends.

However, the wealth of the kingdom, the power and the authority are for the people of the kingdom.  As the twelve dispersed it to Israel, so we are to disperse it to those who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.  The driving out of demons, the healings and the miracles are as Jesus said, “…the children’s bread…” and only if the “…dogs…” would humble themselves and show faith, then they too are for them.  However, as the Lord has warned, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” And in our context… when we, the church, have been using our worldly wealth on those who are already our friends, then we have shown ourselves untrustworthy to be given true riches – the richness of a life lived in a body that cannot perish with the power to change and transfigure water to wine and much more.  So then, what is needed?

We need to listen to Jesus and beg Him to open our minds to understand the scriptures we have heard, not only receiving them into our hearts, but also retaining them and persevering with them until they yield the 100 fold.  The world has changed its physical parameters since Adam first saw it – once when Noah finished building a wooden ship and once when a Man on a roman cross stopped the sun from shining.  Now it is about to change again.

To be ready for it we need a mind that can see the need before the need arises.  A mind like Noah’s that could see the logic of building an ocean going ship in a world without oceans to the astonishment of his fellow men.  The mind of Christ that can see the need for people to be the lights of the world before the sun stops shining.  A mind that can see that with the days of distress that are coming as the Earth once more changes itself in response to God’s plans, we need bodies that cannot perish to live in, bodies that have power and authority to command winds and waves.

And knowing what we need before we know it, God in His eternal faithfulness has restored the message, the power and the authority as you are witnesses of so that the purpose for the message, power and authority is already made known – the return and arrival of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, in power and glory.

“Come, Lord Jesus, come,” say all who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.  “Come!”

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