The Keys of the Kingdom

A parent hands Johnny or Susan the keys to the car. With that simple act goes a great deal of responsibility and stewardship. The keys that Jesus gives his church (Matthew 16:18–19 and 18:18) have much greater responsibility attached.

The King builds his church. The King has come, establishing his kingdom. Matthew’s Gospel proclaims the coming of the true King of Israel. The Old Testament describes the establishment of God’s kingdom, and anticipates the fullness of it. It looks forward to the trees rejoicing, the nations sounding God’s praise, the islands and deserts proclaiming God’s grace (Isaiah 42). The parables focus on the kingdom. The miracles are not just “wow!” events, but they put in visible form the reality of the blessing proclaimed verbally in the teaching and preaching of the kingdom. The kingdom is present because the King himself is there.

“The Church, in short, is a present manifestation of the Kingdom of God and in her the Kingdom’s transforming power operates and from her its life and blessedness flows to form an oasis in the desert of this world’s sin and mis­ery, darkness and death, to which the thirsty traveler may come and drink deeply at the well-springs of salvation.”

Raymond O. Zorn, Church and Kingdom, p.81
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Your Crucified, Risen, Ascended Lord Saves You!

How can we who have sinned against God, we who are unrighteous, come into the presence of a holy God, a God who is too holy to tolerate sin? 1 Peter 3:18–22 focuses on the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. He also points you to the way that God makes visible the reality of Christ’s work.

Christ died for you. Christ died once. Christ’s death is unique. It cannot be repeated. Christ died once for all. His death is sufficient. It accomplished what it set out to do.

The righteous died for the unrighteous. Christ died because of sins. It was your rebellion and disobedience that made his suffering and death necessary. He died in your place. The substitutionary atonement is at the heart of the gospel.

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Feed on Christ

Meals are important. Jesus taught you to pray for your daily bread, But, remember that Jesus not only gives you bread, he is the bread of life who offers you eternal life as you feed on him, as you see in John 6:52–59.

Be sure that it is Christ on whom you feed. This hard teaching is connected with the Lord’s Supper. It would be simplistic to say that this message that Jesus gave is only about the Lord’s Supper (though some evidence leans that way). Jesus presents himself as the Passover Lamb (John 1:29; 6:59 [cf. 6:4]), which had a focus on eating and drinking. The Jesus who speaks in John 6 is the Jesus who has his eye on the suffering and death on the cross by which he would redeem you. As Jesus preaches in the synagogue he presents himself as the One on whom his hearers must feed. You need to be united with Christ in the kind of closeness that involves eating and digesting. He talks about the same reality that he seals as he institutes the Lord’s Supper.

“It is certain, then, that he now speaks of the perpetual and ordinary manner of eating the flesh of Christ, which is done by faith only. And yet, at the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed upon believers, in the Lord’s Supper; and Christ even intended that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and confirmation of this sermon.” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel of John, at John 6:54)

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