I have started preaching a sermon series on Parables. Since most of Jesus’ parables are about (and bring about) the Kingdom, I thought I would take time in my weekly writing to share more about the Kingdom of God, as taught and lived out by Christ.
Jesus came to fulfill the promises of God and usher in the new reality of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus began to preach, His message was “Repent, for the Kingdom of God has drawn near.” The main message of the life and teachings of Jesus was about God and His Kingdom. The Greek word basilea occurs 162 times in the New Testament, and the vast majority of these are in the Synoptic Gospels (56 times in Matthew, 20 in Mark, and 46 in Luke). The Kingdom of God was clearly very important for Jesus.
What is the Kingdom of God? Although Jesus spoke about the Kingdom frequently, He never explicitly defined the nature of the Kingdom. Rather, His entire life enacted the reality of the Kingdom. His teaching fleshed out and gave clarity to the reality of the Kingdom. All of what Jesus did connects to the Kingdom. But what I will be writing on will focus on the times that Jesus mentions “Kingdom of God”, “Kingdom of Heaven”, and “King”. The Kingdom was central to the life of Christ, and it should be central to His followers, too!
The Kingdom of God is God’s presence and rule in human hearts: the King has come and inaugurated a new reality – and people are called to know Him, follow Him in community, and join His mission in the world.
Jesus not only inaugurated the new Kingdom reality, He also empowered His followers to participate in this reality, and to pass it on to others. In fact, He expected the Kingdom to grow. He commissioned His followers to go to the ends of the earth with His message, knowing that they would have power from the Holy Spirit to bring people into the Kingdom – into God’s presence through Jesus. Even today, the church is called to follow Jesus and make disciples – which means inviting people into the Kingdom of God.
We are called to know God and to experience the new reality of the Kingdom; we are called to share that new relationship and new reality with others. The Kingdom changes our “business as usual” lives with the in-breaking of God’s eternal new creation. God Himself has come to our planet, and has taken our humanity upon Himself. The Creator has reconciled our broken relationship and has remade our broken nature. The King has come and everything has changed.
Life in the Kingdom changes us, how we see ourselves, and how we live out our lives – because we know and have been filled with the power of the King. Living in the Kingdom is not a formula, “I prayed this prayer” or “I go to church so I am saved.” But it is not complicated, either – it is as simple as following Jesus every day, with every action.
I will share more next week…