…to bring you this special announcement: The Kingdom of God is here!
Jesus was introduced by John the baptizer (the dipper) at the Jordan River, tempted by Satan in the wilderness and began his ministry with these words,
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15
After healing the sick and casting out demons in one place the people begged him not to leave them.
…he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:43
Jesus used the word translated “kingdom” dozens and dozens of times in the gospel accounts of his life. He used the word translated “church” three times and two of those times were in the same verse. We need to ask and understand why.
Allow me to stipulate the following:
1) The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven represent the same thing.
2) Kingdom refers to the “rule and reign of” not primarily a place. The kingdom of God is the rule and reign of God. The kingdom of heaven is the rule and reign of heaven. In heaven God’s will is done absolutely. (Remember how Jesus taught us to pray?)
In the first verse Jesus tells us “the time has come” and the kingdom of God has “come near”. The word used is “eggizo”.
1) to bring near, to join one thing to another
2) to draw or come near to, to approach
The kingdom of God, the rule and reign of God, is coming near. The kingdom of God, the rule and reign of God is breaking in. Heaven is being joined to earth. Messiah is here. God has begun his reign on earth. Impossible you say! Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “…repent and believe the good news!” Repent! Change your mind. Go in a new direction. Repent! See it in a new and unexpected way. Believe the good news. Believe the good news concerning the rule and reign of God on earth as demonstrated in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Most of the Jews in Jesus’ day were wrong about Jesus the Messiah, wrong about the kingdom he would establish and wrong about the nature of his reign on earth. They needed to repent, to change their minds, to see it in a new way, to go a new direction. They needed to believe this good news. Do we?
I wonder how the Church needs to repent. How do we need to change our minds? Go a new direction? I wonder how the people of God may have missed the point, how much we’ve misunderstood. If we repent, will the rule and reign of Jesus become good news to us?
In our second verse (Luke 4:43) Jesus said he had to proclaim the good news of the kingdom because that is why he was sent. I don’t remember much discussion in my church life about Jesus being sent to announce and demonstrate the rule and reign of God on earth. In view of this, consider a seldom discussed verse from Acts.
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 (Emphasis added)
Only forty days between resurrection and ascension and this is what He talked about. But of course this, the reality of the Kingdom, framed all of his conversations.
Jesus spoke repeatedly of the kingdom. Do we? Jesus announced the kingdom from one place to the next. Do we? The apostles and those taught by them spoke repeatedly of the kingdom. Do we? Jesus demonstrated the reign of God. Do we? Are we living our lives under and rule and reign of King Jesus?
Some may say, but we take our lead from Paul, the missionary church planter, who was taught personally by Jesus. Okay and your point is what? Consider.
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God…”Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again…They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus…He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ–with all boldness and without hindrance!
Acts 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31 (Emphases added)
Something is wrong in the Church and like in Israel, it’s been wrong for a long, long time. It’s been wrong longer than any of us can remember. It’s been wrong longer than most of us can imagine.
Are we willing to consider this possibility? Can we at least ask some questions? Do we hear the voice of a King? Is he our King?
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming…or…maybe