The Kingdom of God Part III

In the first two posts on the Kingdom of God, we saw the initiation of God’s kingdom over Israel, its few kings, sin, corruption, exile, and the need for two things: a new king and forgiveness from sin (since this is why the Jews were in exile). We also saw that Jesus came declaring himself to be the needed ‘messiah’, or as the New Testament puts it, ‘Christ’.

The Kingdom of God was The Message of Jesus

In Luke 4 Jesus enters a synagogue and reads the scroll of Isaiah (61):

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And, the pinnacle of his message is found in verse 21: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

So, Jesus says, you know I’m God’s anointed because ‘the Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ so listen and hear God’s message to you: the year of the Lord’s favor has arrived! When the Jews, that is, the poor, the captives of exile, the blind, and those oppressed by the Romans hear that it is the year of the Lord’s favor, it didn’t just mean that God was happy with them. The Jews understood this to mean a great change of fortune: the Savior had arrived to bring about a great reversal of events by destroying their enemies and firmly establishing the kingdom again, just as David had done when he took the throne. However, there is a twist, through the example of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee and from many of Jesus’ teachings, he made something clear: I, the anointed, have come to declare the year of the Lord’s favor, not just to you, but to your enemy also.

So, we see two things: from the last post we see (1) A different kind of kingdom. This kingdom isn’t of this world and is revealed as God’s reign and authority manifested through his people. And, (2) this reign isn’t just for the Jews, but for the Gentiles (everyone else) as well.

The term, ‘the kingdom’ is used over 100 times throughout the gospels. It is impossible to read the gospels and not see the kingdom as incredibly important. A select few instances:

John the Baptist acted as the forerunner of Jesus by declaring this message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mat 3:2)
Mar 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Luk 4:43 but he [Jesus] said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
After Jesus’ resurrection: Acts 1:3: ‘He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.’
And, before he left: Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The Kingdom of God was The Message of the Apostles

This preaching of the gospel of the kingdom that Matthew speaks of was started by the apostles:
(Act 8:12) But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
(Act 14:22) strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
(Act 19:8) And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
(Act 20:25) And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
(Act 28:23) When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
(Act 28:31) proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

The Kingdom of God is Already but Not Yet

When Jesus came he brought the Kingdom of God. We see that in his message, the message he commanded us to preach, and the message the apostles preached. However, in Jesus’ message it seems that there are times when he says that the Kingdom is here and yet it isn’t. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he proclaims that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. What does that mean? It means you can reach out and grab it. And yet, he also says things like, “Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” as if the kingdom is some future event. So what do we do with this message?

Jesus will return to literally and physically rule his people. Upon his return everyone will bow to him and confess his ruler-ship by calling him ‘Lord’ (Phil 2.11). When that time comes, under Jesus’ reign, sickness, death, and all kinds of evil will be eradicated. This is the ‘not yet’ part of the Kingdom message. However, Jesus has ‘already’ firmly established a kingdom whereby the blessings of that future kingdom can be experienced now. That is to say, the blessings of God’s reign can now be experienced by submitting to Jesus as King. When Jesus came and proclaimed his kingdom he did so with his words and deeds, that is to say, by bringing signs of the kingdom: giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, making wine from water, freedom to the captive, and liberty to the oppressed (to mention a few). However, these blessings won’t be experienced in full until Jesus returns. So, in this sense, the kingdom is ‘already, but not yet’.

The Kingdom of God is For You

Jesus made a relationship with God possible. The story of the Bible is one of redemption. Man rebels against God, thus man and God are enemies, and yet God sent his son Jesus to take the punishment for His enemy. It killed Jesus, but God raised him from the dead and, as stated above, he’s coming back. If we trust Jesus to take our punishment and turn from whatever it is that rules us now to the rule of Jesus we can experience true life with Jesus as our King.

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