Ethos: Kingdom Apprenticeship      Matthew 4:12-23 

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be talking about what type of community “that brand new world” starts to give birth to.  What type of community it starts to form.   We’re calling this series “Ethos.”  Ethos is a Greek word that means values, the character of something.  It also means things that we believe and things that we dream about, things that we hope for, things that we plead with God for.  Over the next eight weeks, we’re going to take a step back and go, God, who are you shaping us to become, and what are you shaping us to do, and what are the things that we hold dear, and what are the dreams that we would say, collectively together, we have about the way that you would use this little community of faith to make a massive difference in your world?  That’s where we’re going over the next few weeks.

I thought we would start where Jesus starts.  That’s never a bad idea, right?  To ask so, Jesus, where do you start?  Jesus, what are you up to?  Jesus, how are you at work?  We’re starting with a pop quiz.  What did Jesus talk about most?  If we were to read through the gospels and take a note every time Jesus talked about a theme, what would he have talked about most?  A.  Love    B.  Heaven/Hell    C.  The Kingdom of God    D.  Money    Interesting.  We have a pretty wide-swath of answers.  Let me let Jesus answer that question for us.  If you have your Bible, open to Matthew 4:12-17.  In Matthew 4, Jesus is just coming on the scene.  If you know anything about the gospel of Matthew, Matthew wants to walk us through the birth narrative—tells us how Jesus was born and focuses primarily on Joseph and the courage Joseph had to have.  Chapter 3 is Jesus’s baptism.  Chapter 4 is Jesus getting led out into the desert to be tempted by the enemy.  Half way through chapter 4, Jesus comes on the scene to publicly begin teaching and ministering to people, and listen to what he says:  When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.  Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—-to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordon, Galilee of the Gentiles—-the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”  From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  

It’s not only the very first thing Jesus says when he begins to preach, it’s also the thing he talks about most.  Over 100 times in our gospels we have Jesus referring to, talking about, unpacking the “kingdom of heaven” or the “kingdom of God.”   In fact, after Jesus is resurrected and he teaches on earth for a number of weeks, listen to the way that Luke records what he talks about (Acts 1:3) — After his suffering, he (Jesus) presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  {Quick timeout.  We should chuckle a little bit when we read that, because how many times do you have to prove to somebody that you are alive?  No, seriously, guys, I am alive!  If you try to convince people of that they will think you are insane!  Why?  Because you haven’t died and come back from the dead.  When you die and come back from the grave, you have to say to people, “Touch me.”  Hear me.  Eat with me.  Walk with me.  High five me.  You have to convince people you’re alive, because you haven’t always been.  You were dead.}  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about about the kingdom of God.  This is the main theme of Jesus’s teaching.  Really, the second isn’t even all that close.  I would say it’s a subset of this big theme.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  The kingdom of God is near.  The kingdom of God has come.

Which begs the question:  What in the world is the kingdom of God?  If we don’t answer that, we will have no awareness or understanding of what Jesus is teaching and why it’s so important.  We live in a republic—we don’t live in a monarchy—but we still have an awareness of what a king does and how a kingdom functions.  In order to understand THIS kingdom, we have to go back to the beginning of the story.  Flip over to Genesis 1:27-28.  This is the first time we start to see the theme of a kingdom in the Scriptures.  Genesis 1— We have God creating heaven, creating earth, saying it’s good.  It’s really clear that God creates out of nothing, that he orders all of his creation.  He brings shalom, or peace, where there’s chaos.  He is the king who’s ruling over all of this.  If you were to try to summarize Genesis 1 and 2, here’s the way you might do it if you were painting a picture.  You would say that heaven and earth are these two interconnected spaces (circles), or to say it another way, God’s space and human space overlap.  God walks with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  He talks with them.  He interacts with them.  When they disappear, he’s shocked, “Where have you gone?”  God’s space and human space overlap.

The very first thing that God does after creating Creation is he gives rulership, or kingdom responsibilities, to his created.  Genesis 1:27-28 — So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase  in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  God creates and then he gives us rulership, he gives us dominion over his creation.  It’s as though God is the manager or the boss and we are his employees, designed to carry out his intention for this world that he has just created.  You and I carry the image of God, and we are designed to carry the purpose of God, which is to rule.  If you’re living, breathing, and human, you are designed to have dominion, to rule.  The psalmist in Psalm 8:3-9 will echo this calling of Genesis 1 and 2.  It’s a poetic rendering of this same idea.  When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  {How many of you have stood on top of a fourteener and gone, God, you care about me?  You created all of this, as far as my eye can see, and you care about me? Then he tells us why God cares about us.}   You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.  You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:  all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  So it’s this. . . .God, you’ve created, you’ve designed us to rule.  We’re ruling under you. . . .your name is great.  That is what our rule is designed to amplify.  God, your name is great!

Here’s another pop quiz.  How did Adam and Eve do with that calling?  Not that great.  They didn’t do a great job.  WE don’t do a great job.  They were designed to be rulers under God and in God’s creation, working it, subduing it, being stewards (caretakers) of it, and they have this one decision to make.  We’re going to have to decide, in our rulership, what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad, what’s good and what’s evil.  So God sets up this tree in the middle of the garden.  The Lord God took the man and put him the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Gen. 2:15-17)  Adam and Eve, you have to decide how you’re going to decide what’s right and what’s wrong.  Will you rely on God?  Will you live under God’s rule, will you live under God’s reign?  Or, will you rebel against the ruler, the manager, take ownership yourself and say, “God, we think we know how to drive this car better than you.”  God, we think we know how to do this thing called life better than you know how to do it.  So these rulers that God installs to care for his creation and to work it on his behalf immediately decide, “God, we think we have a better idea than you.  We think we can do this better than you.”

Here’s what happens because of humanity’s decision:  We introduce sin, we introduce death, we introduce pain, we introduce sorrow into the world.  This God space and humanity space that was once connected is now fractured because of sin.  The entire storyline of the Bible is trying to answer the question: what is God going to do about this fracture?  How is God going to respond to his creation being chaotic and not shalom-oriented like he designed it?  Where’s God going to act?  How’s God going to act?  What’s God going to do?

Here’s what he does.  Three minute history lesson about what the Old Testament is ultimately about.  God calls out one man and one family.  His name is. . . . . Father Abraham.  The first thing he tells Abraham to do is. . . . .leave.  Leave these kingdoms of the earth, these empires of the earth and step into a different type of kingdom.  So Abraham follows God.  Abraham and his family, after a number of years, find themselves enslaved under the Egyptians and Pharaoh, and once again the question is: God, how are you going to respond?  Because evil seems like it’s getting the last laugh.  Evil seems like it’s dominating the day.  This coming back together that was suppose to happen through Abraham doesn’t seem like it’s happening, God.  What are you going to do about it?  God raises up Moses and Moses says to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”  Pharaoh says, “No!”  A bunch of plagues come, and then God leads his people of Israel out of slavery and into the brink of the Promised Land.  When Israel gets on the other side of the Red Sea, they break out in the very first worship song that the Scriptures record and talk about.  It’s in Exodus 15.  In verse 18, Moses and Miriam and the Israelite community sing this: The Lord reigns for ever and ever.  It’s the very first time that humanity says back to God, “You reign. You rule.”  This is your space and we want to be your people.  We want to live in your way, under your rule and under your reign.  A few chapters later, Israel is called to a mountain where they enter into covenant relationship with God.  We know it as the Ten Commandments, but it’s really them saying God, we’re choosing to live in your way, to worship you alone, to not make idols, to have no other gods before you.  To choose not to steal, to choose to honor our father and mother, to choose to respect and honor the Sabbath.  We’re choosing to live in your way as your people.

And then, like Adam and Eve, how’d they do with that?  A. Great   B.  Not so good   They fail miserably.  God sends kings and God sends prophets and He creates a temple.  The temple is basically God’s space invading humanity’s space.  But. . . .it all falls short of what the people desperately long for and they fail in keeping in rhythm with the grace of God that was at their fingertips when they walked out of the grip of slavery.  By the way, whenever God reigns, slaves are freed.  The oppressed are lifted up.  Those who are abused are healed.  All throughout the Scriptures.  But Israel resists God.  They have these prophets that come along that start to point to the dawning of a new day or the dawning of a new world.  They start to paint this picture of Israel looking less and less like the pharaohs who enslaved them, and more and more like the Yahweh who redeemed them.  You have prophets like Isaiah who said:  You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.  You who bring good news {In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it’s this word ‘euangelion,’ the word gospel.}  to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” (Isa. 40:9)     Your God has come.  He’s not leaving you to the empires of the earth.  He’s coming.  Every single “good” Jew in Jesus’s day would have had these prophetic verses on their lips.  They would have been thinking, God, there’s a day when you’re going to come.  There’s a day when you’re going to redeem.  There’s a day when good news is going to be present for us.  Their empires had changed; they’re no longer under the iron fist of the pharaoh.  Now they’re under the reign of the caesars.  They’re praying these verses nonetheless.

When Jesus comes and steps onto the scene and says:  Repent, {Turn!  Change your mind, which is literally what the word ‘repent’ means.} for the kingdom of heaven has come near, he’s saying something is going on in the cosmos that is changing the world.  God is acting on the promises that he made.  He’s following through on what he said he would do.  So Jesus exclaims ‘Repent, change your mind.’  There’s an entirely new way to live.  You don’t have to live under the empires of the earth.  You don’t have to live under the thumb of the Caesar and the way of the Caesar and the way of the Roman empire.  God. Is. Invading.

You do know that Jesus didn’t get killed because he was telling people to love each other, right?  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  They’re like, kill him!   It wasn’t it.  He was talking about a new day.  He was talking about the reign of God.  He was talking about the kingdom of God.  Here’s what the kingdom of God is.  The kingdom of God is the space where what God wants done is done.  The place where God gets his way.  It’s the place of his effective rule.  It’s why when we pray ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. . . .Jesus, thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  That’s a subversive prayer. . . .God, invade this place.  It’s subversive socially, politically, psychologically; it’s subversive in every way you could possibly imagine.  Here’s what Jesus is saying. . . .my kingdom is invading the kingdoms of the world, the ways of the world, the values of the world.  It’s coming and it’s here!

The Apostle Paul will write to the church at Colossae and he will say (Col. 1:13) that by grace you have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into the dominion (kingdom) of his Son whom he loves.  It’s a transference of kingdoms, a transference of rule, a transference of reign.  So here’s the question:  If this is what Jesus is talking about, I think it should mirror what happens in Genesis 1 and 2.  God creates.  God designs his rulership.  And then the very first thing he does is appoints human beings to be caretakers, to be rulers, and if that’s what’s going on here—a recreation of humanity—we should see Jesus do the same thing.  Let’s look and see if that happens (Matthew 4:18-20).  As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.

That’s exactly what happens.  He calls people, come and live in my way.  Come and live under my reign.  Come and allow me to be your God, to shape your values, to shape your dreams, to move you forward, come and be my disciples.  That’s what he does.  We can’t understand what a disciple is unless we understand what the kingdom of God is, because discipleship and God’s kingdom are intricately intertwined.  Discipleship is learning, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, a journey that never ends this side of glory.  Discipleship is learning how to live under the reign of Jesus. {Will you look up at me for a moment?}  This is what we are all about as a church—to teach people how to live under the reign of Jesus, to teach people how to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus, saying back to Jesus, “Thy will be done, thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”  We want to be that kind of a people.

Jesus doesn’t stop there.  He gives a beautiful three-fold vision of what discipleship looks like.  {Just a quick timeout.}  My guess is some of you are here and you’ve one of two thoughts going on.  One is I wish that were for me, but it isn’t.  That invitation to discipleship?  I’ve got so much baggage in my past; I’ve got so many decisions that I’ve made that I wish that I could take back.  If you saw my rap sheet, if you saw my resumé. . . .there’s no way Jesus would choose me.  I just want to tell you, he chose Peter!  I think he chose Peter so you couldn’t sit here and say that.  He’s constantly putting his foot in his mouth; the only reason he takes out of his mouth is to change feet.  He’s not exactly a stellar example for us for most of the Scriptures.  I think we carry some pain into this and we carry some regret, and Jesus goes no, no, no, no, no, this is for you.

The other lie we believe is that discipleship is some sort of elite form of spirituality that we will get to eventually.  I just want to tell you that’s not the way the Scriptures talk about it.  The Scriptures talk about you and I becoming disciples upon putting faith in Jesus saying, we want to learn to live in your way with your heart, in your world, for your glory, with your joy.  That’s what we want to be about.  From day one.  I chose the word ‘learning’ intentionally because that is the posture of a disciple.  We’re learners.  It literally means ‘apprentices.’  Learning God, what do you do with anger?   In Your reign and Your rule, what do we do with anger?  In Your rule and Your reign, what do we do with lust?  In Your rule and Your reign, what do we do with our enemies?  God, in your rule and your reign, what do we do with our regrets?  How do we live in your way with your heart?  It’s both action and affection; it’s inward and it’s outward and it encompasses every piece of what it means to be human.

So what does Jesus do?  He gives us a three-fold vision of what it looks like to become a disciple.  Someone who lives under the rule and the reign of Jesus, in the kingdom of God.  Here’s the first thing he says (Matt. 4:19) — Come, follow me.  Come and follow me.  Come and be with me.  Come be in such close proximity that you start to realize and recognize how I respond in the situations you encounter on a daily basis.  The people used to talk about getting so close to a rabbi that you’d be covered in his dust.  While he walked down those dusty roads, his dust would come up off of his feet and you’d be covered in the dust of your rabbi.  That close!  That intimate!  That much in step with him.  It’s the first call of becoming a disciple.  To be with Jesus.  We’re going to dive more into that next week, but my question for you today is that something that you long for?

On Friday night, I took my youngest son Reid to play flag football.  It’s pure comedy.  It’s like herding cats.  He’s five.  He had a practice Friday night.  I took my oldest son to go with us to this practice, and it meant that my daughter got to stay home with my wife.  They got to spend some time together, just the two of them.  You wouldn’t believe how excited Avery was to say good-bye to her brothers!  We got back to the house and she was like….     I said, “Sweetie, what did you do?”  Essentially. . . . .NOTHING!  We played games together.  We chewed gum.  We did this, we did that, but to her, better than Disneyland!  Just her and mom spending time together.  Nothing better!   I knew I was preaching on this and I went, Jesus, do I have that same type of a longing?  To be with my rabbi, to be with my master, my Lord, my. . .Jesus?

When they used to talk about the early disciples there was a refrain that seemed to rise up and here’s what they said:  When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)   Whomever we’re with, people can tell.  It rubs off.  The disposition of the disciple is someone who’s experiencing Jesus’s presence, learning attentively, and has a posture of saying God, change me.  I need to get into proximity to Jesus in order to do that.

Here’s how he goes on (Matt. 4:19) — “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  It’s one Greek word poieó.  It means ‘to do or to make.’  I will make you.  I’ll reform you.  I’ll shape you.  You will become different kinds of people.   As you live in proximity to Jesus, he changes you from the inside out.  We see the second distinctive of discipleship, of living under the rule and reign of Jesus.  We’re with Jesus and we’re becoming like Jesus.  In Jesus’s day, when a rabbi would call someone to be a disciple, an apprentice, or a learner, they would typically pick the best-of-the-best or the most elite, because when a rabbi called a disciple, there was the understanding that the disciple would become like the rabbi and then would carry their teachings on after they were gone.  They would follow them everywhere.  Like I said, there’s story of disciples following their rabbis, even to the bathroom.  They wanted to learn to do everything in their rabbi’s way.  Not just believe what the rabbi believed, but live like the rabbi lived.  Which is why when Jesus is walking on the water, Peter, his disciple, says, “Jesus, if that’s you, call me out.”  Why?  Because if I’m your disciple, I do the things that you do, and you’re walking on water, so therefore, if I’m your disciple I should be able to walk on water.  We knock Peter for a lot of stuff. . . .he’s only one of two people who’ve ever lived that’s walked on water.  Because of his boldness, his veracity. . . .Jesus, call me out.  Being a disciple is not just saying I have faith in you—certainly it’s that, but it’s not only that—it’s saying I want to become like you.  I want to live the way that you lived, I want to do the things that you did.

John will talk about this journey with Jesus as this new birth.  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God {God’s reign, God’s rule, God’s space breaking through to our world. . . .} unless they are born again.”  (John 3:3)    We start to become different kinds of people; and it’s initiated on faith and then empowered by grace every day as we learn more and more. . . .Jesus, how would you respond in this situation?  Jesus, when people wrong me at work, how would you respond and what would you do?  Jesus, what would you do with the anger that we have a propensity to burden and carry ourselves?  Jesus, what would you do with the injustice in this world?  Jesus, what would you do when kids are taken advantage of?  How would you respond?  Jesus, what would you do? We want to do the same thing, in your way with your heart.

I believe Jesus casts the most compelling vision ever cast about what it means to be human.  About what it means to be human.  Free from anger and lust, loving even our enemies, being generous to people who don’t deserve it, being free from worry and anxiety because we trust that our Good Father is taking care of us.  But it’s not an easy journey, is it?  It’s not easy, because he confronts our values.  Have you noticed this about Jesus?  He confronts our beliefs.  He confronts what we think about sexuality, he confronts what we think about power, he confronts what we think about anger and manipulation.  He confronts some of the things that the empires of the earth hold dear and say you cannot live without those things.  He says, “My kingdom’s different.”  Essentially what he says is you have two trees to choose from.  You have the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that’s what Adam and Eve chose.  That’s the way the whole empires of the earth got their start.  You also have the tree of Calvary, where Jesus gave his life and paid for our sin in order to invite us into new life.  You can choose that tree.  Every decision we make {Will you look up at me a moment?} is a choice between two trees.  Am I living under Jesus’s reign?  Life, death, resurrection.  Or, am I going to decide this is what I think is right, this is what will get me forward?  Decision of two trees.

Jesus finally says this (Matt. 4:19) — “Come, follow me,”  {So be close to me} Jesus said, “and I will send you out {Make you, transform you.} to fish for people.”    Fishers of people.  This is obviously a metaphor.  Jesus didn’t hand them a net and say okay, go for it.  No.  Jesus is painting this picture:  That we would do as Jesus did.  He holds out the good news of his kingdom; calls people to walk in his way, with his heart, everywhere he goes.  It’s the first time the word ‘gospel’ is used in the New Testament.  It’s this picture of kingdom declaration.  Repent.  Change your mind.  God’s up to something.  You can walk into the kingdom of God NOW, if you submit your life under the rule and under the reign of Jesus.  But it’s not just believing, it’s actually living.  Dallas Willard puts it poignantly when he says this:  “The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples — students, apprentices, practitioners — of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.”  Ooohhh!  That is go good I wish I’d wrote that!  So good!

That’s what we’re about.  That’s what we’re about as a church.  That’s what we want to say more and more; every single change that we make—whether it’s to our building, or our programs, or our staffing—is going to be to gather people around this vision:  How do we learn to live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus?  How do we teach people to become disciples?  It does require teaching, because the way of Jesus is countercultural, it’s counter to the kingdoms of the earth, it’s different!  So when Jesus gives the Great Commission, he says:  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt. 28:19-20)   I always thought the Great Commission was to TELL people to obey.  As if we just naturally know what it looks like to live in the way of Jesus.  That’s not what the Great….   The Great Commission is to TEACH people how.  In the nitty- gritty, dirt-underneath-your-fingernails, daily life what does it look like to live in the way of Jesus?  That’s what we want to do.  Part of living in the way of Jesus is exactly what Jesus says he goes and does.  Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, {God’s space is invading earth space.  This is good news.  Join the revolution.  Join the movement.  And, when God shows up…}  and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matt. 4:23)    We want to be a living, we want to be a teaching, and a proclaiming, and we want to be a healing community.  Where people’s physical ailments are healed.  We’re praying that God will do that.  Where people’s emotional scars are healed.  Where people’s mental, cognitive disabilities are healed.  Where people find restoration, renewal, and the goodness of God and grace of God is seen all over our community.  That’s what we want.  Because that’s what Jesus talks about, and we just want to get on board with what he’s doing.

There’s a day coming, friends, where one day the end of the story’s exactly like the beginning.  The end of the story isn’t going somewhere else, the end of the story is heaven and earth reunited, where God’s dwelling is with his creation.  He will be our God, we will be his people.  No more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain, for the old order of things is gone and the new has come.  So in this in between, we want to live in this tension of the overlap between the kingdoms of the earth and the kingdoms of God really, really well.  The way that we do that is by teaching people to live in the way of Jesus, with the heart of Jesus.

Our mission statement as a church used to be “We exist to glorify God by making disciples through gospel transformation, life-giving community, visible faith.”  I would say that in our “Meet the Pastor” gatherings we used to have.  I’d follow that up, every time, with, “Really what that means is we want to help people live in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus.”  After I said that for the sixth month in a row, I thought to myself, “If I need to explain our mission statement with another mission statement, maybe we should just go with that.”  It’s as simple as I can make it, you guys.  Our longing for every person in this room and every person in our community is that we would gather around each other, and that we would teach each other, and that we would learn how to live life in the kingdom of God right now.  To live under the rule and reign of Jesus.  To respond in the way that Jesus would respond.  To value the things that Jesus would value.  To hold out the hope that Jesus came proclaiming.  To be a Jesus people through and through, because we believe that he is teaching us how to live life in his kingdom right now, today, and that’s the best life you could possibly imagine.  With Jesus.  Like Jesus. As Jesus.

Early followers of Christ—when people would put faith in Jesus and step into this Jesus way, where they trust him for forgiveness of sin and they’d say, “I want to live my life in a way that reflects the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus,” they would go great, here’s what you need to do first.  Come and be baptized.  It’s this declaration that you’re following his way.  The picture of baptism is that we’ve been buried with Christ through death, and that we’ve been raised to walk in newness of life.  We’re going to do that as we close our time together today. {Ryan continues with instructions to those being baptized.}

Jesus, thank you for coming to teach and proclaim the kingdom.  Lord, we want to be kingdom people, apprentices learning how to live under your rule and your reign, where what you want done gets done, in our lives and through our lives.  May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Lord, we pray that you shape us through this series, that you’d encourage us, that you’d teach us what it looks like to live under your rule.  We love you.  Amen.