The Gospel is the Kingdom

What is the good news of the New Testament? That is a question I always thought had a simple answer: "Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we might have a proper relationship with him." Although, that statement is true, it is not the good news. Now before you pull out the marshamallows and prepare to stone me to silliness, just hear me out. Read through the passages and decide for yourself. If I'm wrong, let me know because I like to know the truth.

I will post a verse and then follow that up with some obvious commentary if I feel the need. The asterix marks more "significant" verses.

Matt 4:17 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”

Early in his ministry Jesus started talking about the coming kingdom. This kingdom had been what people throughout the Old Testament had been waiting for. This kingdom would be a blessing to the world. It would finally be the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: "Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." The kingdom that would bless the whole world was near! Now that is good news.

Matt 4:23 “Jesus went…preaching the good news of the kingdom”

Jesus' message could have so easily been the message of his death and the forgiveness of sins, but that isn't what he focused on. He focused on the good news of the kingdom.

*Matt 6:33 “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”

Our striving needs to be for things of the kingdom, not for selfish spiritual things or our own enjoyment. Our lives should not be about us but about the kingdom.

Matt 9:35 “Jesus went…preaching the good news of the kingdom”

Did he go around preaching grace? Maybe. Did he go around preaching faith? At times. But what does this section of Scripture show that he preached - "the good news of the kingdom." Up until two years ago, I never heard, or at least consciously acknowledged hearing, the message of the kingdom of God. It is what Jesus taught, but we think we have better messages, ones that might be more relevant or palatable to our souls. I think we need to get back to discovering what the message of the kingdom is and start living it and proclaiming it from the rooftops, soapboxes, and pulpits.

*Matt 10:7 “Preach this message: ‘the kingdom of heaven is near’”

Jesus has the twelve and he is getting ready to send them out for the first time. The dew is on the ground. Simon Peter still hasn't combed his hair. It's group huddle time. It's time for that final motivating speach. Jesus recaps the important stuff for their first journey out, so they don't screw it up. It's crunch time. His mission on earth rests in the hands of these twelve. And Jesus tells them to preach the message of the kingdom of heaven. Maybe, we should take some pointers from that.

Mark 1:14-15 “Jesus went…proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come…The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.’”

*Mark 9:1 “There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

I always thought that this was just one of those verses that didn't make sense. Jesus told people that the kingdom of God will come before some of these people tasted death. Well, it appeared to not happen. We're still waiting for that kingdom to arrive, so maybe some of these people just haven't died. Maybe 2000 year olds are walking around the eart waiting for the kingdom. I just didn't know how to make sense of it.

However, now I do (Or at least that is what I think). The kingdom has come. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth when he established his church. The church is the kingdom, and we are part of the kingdom when we become part of the church. The event everyone in the Old Testament was waiting for has happened. We are blessed to be part of it. These people that Jesus talked to saw the kingdom of God come with power.

Mark 11:10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David”

*Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

These are elements of God's kingdom. In God's kingdom the poor will hear the good news. The blind will receive sight and the oppressed will be freed. Sometimes we might think that we do not see these events happening here on earth as they should in God's kingdom. Some day will come when God's kingdom will arrive in its complete fullness. Right now, we are left with the kingdom being one of many kingdoms on earth. As much as possible, we need to bring about the kingdom as much a possible while here on earth. We need preach the good news to the poor. We need to help the blind see. We need help free those who are oppressed. We need to be God's kingdom.

*Luke 4:43 “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…because that is why I was sent”

Jesus is so bold to say that the reason he was sent was to preach the good news of the kingdom. I thought the reason he was sent was to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. However, that isn't what he said. He said that he came to preach the good news of the kingdom. His death on the cross is part of that bigger framework. We should not make his death and resurrection the framework or else we miss the larger picture. The death and resurrection are glorious things indeed, but they are not why Jesus was sent. Jesus was sent to preach and bring about the kingdom.

Luke 8:1 “Jesus traveled…proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God”

Luke 9:11 “He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God”

Luke 9:60 “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Another example of Jesus telling another person to go and proclaim the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62 “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Being part of the kingdom of God is the goal. That is what people were worried about being part of.

Luke 10:9 “Tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”

Luke 10:11 “The kingdom of God is near”

Luke 16:16 “The good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

*Luke 17:20-21 “Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact the kingdom of God is among you.”

Ding. Ding. Ding. This goes back to the reply to the comment that I made yesterday. The kingdom of God, the kingdom we are residents of, is "not coming with things that can be observed." That's quacky. Here's what I would have said, "You mean to tell me that you're going to start a kingdom but that kingdom isn't going to be visible. That's no kingdom. It's already here? That's what you say. I see Roman soldiers just down the street. How can you say the kingdom is here among us?" Then I would've left the crazy man.

But God doesn't always do what is viewed as "rational". He had Gideon lower his army from 32,000 to 500 before invading another nation. He had Joshua march around Jericho blowing trumpets in order to defeat them. He saved the world by having Jesus die on a cross. In hindsight his acts are glorious, just like his kingdom. But at the time, they seem to be a little off.

However, the kingdom of God was there among them and is here among us. Although I might live in America, my true residence is in another kingdom. All of us who profess to follow Christ need to realize that we are part of a kingdom that is among us. Our nationality belongs to the kingdom of God, not to any of the kingdoms of this world. This kingdom is unlike any other.

Luke 18:28-30 “I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

People will do things for the sake of the kingdom of God. By this point I'm sure that you are, if you didn't already, realizing that the kingdom of God is a message of importance to Jesus.

*Acts 1:3 “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”

Jesus comes back. This is really the final huddle. It's the last play in the Super Bowl. The quarterback has just a short time to motivate his players. Their whole season depends on it. The quarterback will remind them of the most important thing. What did Jesus remind them of? It wasn't the theological significance of his death on the cross. It wasn't his miracles. It wasn't his resurrection. Those things all fit in the context of the message of the kingdom of God. One last moment with the people he placed the future of his mission to, and the Bible records that he spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 8:12 “He (Philip) preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus.”

The message of the kingdom begins to be preached by those who are just followers.

Acts 19:8 “Paul…arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.”

Paul preached about the kingdom of God.

Acts 28:23 “From morning until evening he explained the matter 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.”

Acts 28:30-31 "And he stayed two full years in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered."

We see more examples about Paul preaching the kingdom of God. That was the goal of all the stories of Jesus' life. That is the good news that Jesus himself preached.

Rom 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

*I Cor 15:24-25 “Then comes the end, when he (Christ) hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put al l his enemies under his feet.”

It's at the time when the kingdom is handed to the Father that the kingdom will be here in its fullest. Until then, we will live in a kingdom that has no boundaries, a kingdom that is just a foretaste of the greater kingdom to come.

*Rev 1:5-6 “To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father.”

We are priests in this kingdom. There are no soldiers, no union workers, no corporate executives, no janitors, no policemen, just priests. Since we are supposed to be priests, we will get into their role more in the future.

Rev 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”

What a glorious day this will be!

Watch out for the potholes.