We really like Jesus. He’s kind of a big deal. Jesus is important and what Jesus teaches is equally important. So ask yourself this question: “What does Jesus talk about the most in the Gospels?” Some people think Jesus talks the most about love. Others think that He talks the most about ethics. Others think that it’s money. All those topics are definitely important, but none of these things are what Jesus speaks about most.
Jesus talks about the kingdom of God more than any other topic (and there is not a close second). Some examples: “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.” “The kingdom of God is like a man who had two sons.” “The kingdom of God is like a field.” “The kingdom of God is like a pearl of great price.” “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come among you.”
The Greek words for “kingdom” or “king” occur a whopping 175 times in the Gospels alone. This doesn’t even include other “kingdom” words such as rule, scepter, authority or dominion, nor does it include any of the other kingdom words in the rest of the Scriptures.
The gospel, in Jesus’ words, is the kingdom of God.
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. Matthew 4:23
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15
So what is the kingdom of God?
Imagine that you are a Jew living in Palestine under Roman domination in the first century. In the Old Testament, God promises that one day you will rule over all the nations. One day there will be no more sickness or death. One day your enemies will be judged. One day you will be resurrected. One day God will write His Torah (His Law) on your heart. One day you will be given the Holy Spirit. One day the Devil will be defeated.
In addition, you have been promised that one day there will be no more war, no more crying and no more pain. One day you will “beat your swords into plowshares and your spears into pruning hooks,” and your hands will learn war no more.
But when you look around, it appears that God is lying! You see people die. You see people get sick. You see people oppressed by demons. You see evil kingdoms, like Rome, rule over and exploit your people. What is going on?
Then you hear of a young rabbi from Nazareth named Jesus. This rabbi begins to proclaim something you have waited your whole life to hear: “The kingdom of God is at hand!” God is beginning His plan to get the world back to Eden…and even better.
Whereas Adam sinned, Jesus died for sin. Whereas Adam’s sin brought about death, Jesus rose from the dead. Whereas Adam’s sin brought about demonic oppression, Jesus casted out demons. Whereas Adam’s sin brought about sickness, Jesus healed the sick. Jesus is the Adam that Adam should have been.
Whereas Israel was tested in the wilderness for 40 years and failed, Jesus was tested in the wilderness for 40 days and succeeded. Whereas Israel is called God’s “son,” Jesus is God’s true Son. Whereas Israel met God at the temple, Jesus becomes the new temple. Jesus is the Israel that Israel should have been.
That’s the gospel of the Kingdom. Even though God has always reigned, God’s process of removing all opposition to His reign has begun. But the process is not complete. The kingdom has not been completed, but the Kingdom has begun. It is “already” and “not yet.”
May we seek to live under the truth of such a great reality and hope for the day when it is complete. May we praise Him who “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).