From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
When Jesus began to preach “repentance” (to change your mind), his hearers would’ve understood him to mean that the rule of heaven was now present on the earth. Indeed, it was the King of the kingdom who was proclaiming this!
Why did Jesus come to earth? And, why was He proclaiming this? If you said; he came to earth to die on the cross, you’d be correct. The question that needs to be answered is why? And why say the kingdom was already at hand?
I’m aware that most believers would answer; Jesus came “to forgive our sins so we can go to heaven. If that’s what you would have answered, you’d be wrong. Going to heaven is only a part of God’s kingdom equation.
Much of the Church in recent history has unknowingly been proclaiming only part of the gospel Jesus was preaching. The primary reason for Jesus coming to earth, dying on the cross, and rising on the third day, was to unite all things in Him, in heaven and on the earth (see Ephesians 1:9-11). The Church has been authorized, to advance God’s kingdom influence, in all nations to reconcile the world to Him.
Jesus Preached and taught the Gospel of the Kingdom
“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). He proclaimed the kingdom because it had come upon them.
“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:20-21)
The main purpose of His coming was so His kingdom can be established in you, so God could exercise kingdom authority on the earth through you – the Church (Luke 17:21). God is in you now reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19), through what you say and do in obedience to His commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). Going to heaven is a by product of being transferred into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13-14).
The Kingdom of God is Demonstrated on the Earth
The Pharisees encountered kingdom power when Jesus delivered people. Consider Luke 11:20; “But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Paul the apostle confronted false teachers at Corinth by saying; “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power (1 Corinthians 4:19-20).
Many reject the idea that God’s kingdom has been on the earth since Jesus arrived, because it didn’t come how they expected it to. David gives some insight; “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” “The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies” (Psalm 110:1-2)!
Paul references Psalm 110 when he explains that Christ is ruling from heaven until all His enemies are put down, and then the end will come (see 1 Corinthians 15:25-28).
The Kingdom of God Rules over all Kingdoms
David said that God’s kingdom rules over all others. “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). Jesus used parables to illustrate how God’s kingdom influence increases through history.
“He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32).
“He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33).
The Kingdom of God cannot be Stopped
This was no secret to those who knew God’s intended plans. Consider Isaiah 9:6-7; “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”
So continue working and praying for God’s kingdom to be demonstrated through your life, and for His will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven ( see Matthew 6:10). Be confident that nothing can stop the Church. Remind yourself that in Matthew 16:18 Jesus said “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” And Be Encouraged. -JSP