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COLUMN: Jesus is for you

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By Steve Gettinger

Today’s column is based on Luke 10:1-3,10-12,16: “After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. ... But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. ... ‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’”
In Luke chapter 10, it says that when Jesus was journeying to Jerusalem, he allowed extra time so that the good news could be spread in the towns and places along the road.  It says, that the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.  Jesus used 72 sinners to prepare people for his coming. Jesus sent sinners to proclaim his good news to the people. Jesus sent sinners like James, John, Peter, and Judas, people who had failed him and had blown it, yet he forgave them and gave them another chance to serve him.
In spite of the fact that all of these men were sinners … in spite of the fact that we know that at least one of them, Judas, was even a traitor, Jesus still entrusted his message to them.  He even said, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Jesus promised that even though they were sinners, his message would remain intact in their mouths. People were to pay no attention to the sins of the messengers. Instead, they were to pay attention to the truth of the message.
Jesus also told them to heal and preach. “Whenever you enter a town and they receive you … Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” The kingdom of God is different from earthly kingdoms. Here on this earth, we say that someone is a king because he rules a kingdom – the king depends on the kingdom.  When it comes to the kingdom of God, things are the other way around.  The kingdom is the kingdom because Christ the king rules it – the kingdom depends on the king.  When I say that the kingdom of God has come near to you, I am saying that the king has come near to you. That king is Jesus Christ himself.
The mission sounded pretty good, but then came Jesus warning to those He was sending out. Jesus warned them: “Behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” As wonderful as God’s peace and his kingdom are, there will be some people who will attack you for proclaiming it.  There will always be some people who reject God’s peace and his kingdom.  There will always be those who hate God’s message and his messengers.
Jesus had stern words of judgment for the people who rejected the words of his servants: “Whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.” Remember Sodom?  Sodom was the city that God destroyed because of their unrepentant sinful wickedness. Jesus very clearly states that those who refuse to listen to God’s word will suffer a judgment worse than Sodom.
We sometimes forget that the We sometimes forget that the coming of Jesus will bring two very different outcomes. For those who have faith in Jesus will come grace and every blessing, but for those who reject Jesus will come judgment. Many people do not like the part of Jesus preaching where he talks about judgment.
You see, Jesus died for the sins of the entire world.  When Jesus hung from the cross and shouted, “It is finished,” He meant it is finished for everybody.  Jesus Christ has earned the forgiveness of sins for every man, woman, and child who ever has or ever will live.  Jesus purchased the forgiveness of sins for all people in all places in all times.
This means that you can walk up to anyone in any place and tell them that you know for a fact that Jesus Christ has earned forgiveness of sins for them.  Think of the worst human beings who ever lived.  Jesus earned forgiveness of sins for all people, that forgiveness is not applied or effective if it is not received by faith in the Jesus who earned it.
Jesus earned forgiveness for everyone, but some people reject that forgiveness.  It is not the Lord’s fault that anyone suffers forever.  He has brought His kingdom near.  He has earned forgiveness of sins for everyone.  The holy spirit offers that forgiveness through the gospel to everyone, but some people resist the holy spirit and reject the gospel. These are the ones who miss heaven and are lost forever.
The great theologian and reformer Dr. Martin Luther explains the Lord’s Prayer in his writings in the Small Catechism.  When Dr. Luther gets to the second petition of the Lord’s prayer, he says this: Thy kingdom come.  What does this mean? The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself. But we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.  How is this done?  When our heavenly father gives us his holy spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy word and lead a godly life here in time and there in eternity.
Two little words, “us also”, take the gospel from objective fact to personal reality.  Those two words become the truth when our heavenly father gives us his holy spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy word.  The holy spirit’s gift of faith makes the difference.  Without that faith, the life of Jesus is just a collection of the objective facts.  With that faith, the life of Jesus Christ is the way of salvation for me and you.
Two little words can make such a difference.  Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins can add two words to the objective facts.  Listen to the difference this makes.
• Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.  
  Jesus was born of the virgin Mary for you.  
• Jesus suffered under pontius Pilate.
  Jesus suffered under pontius Pilate for you.  
• Jesus died on the cross.   
Jesus died on the cross for you.  
• Jesus rose from the dead.   
Jesus rose from the dead for you.  
• Jesus ascended into heaven.  
Jesus ascended into heaven for you.  
• From there he will come.   
From there he will come for you.  
Two little words: “for you.” They make all the difference in the world, here in time, and forever in eternity.
Jesus is for you.