THE KINGDOM COMES TO EARTH
Jesus not only preached that the kingdom of God “is at hand,” but added, “The time is fulfilled.” The kingdom was not just close by as John the Baptist declared, but had arrived!
We might compare John’s and Jesus’ message of the kingdom to the announcement of a pregnancy, which unfolds in three stages. Stage #1 - After longing for a child, a woman discovers she is expecting, and announces it to her friends, family and colleagues. The news brings great joy, but everyone must wait nine months before the baby arrives. Stage # 2 – One day she feels twinges of pain. Labor intensifies and due date is “at hand.” Stage #3 – As everyone waits with bated breath until the hour arrives and the baby is born; “the time is fulfilled.”
In like manner, the OT prophets announced the coming of the kingdom to God (Stage #1). John the Baptist and Jesus spoke of the time being “at hand” (Stage #2). But after his baptism and temptation Jesus added, “The time is fulfilled” (Stage #3). The Kingdom of God was no longer a future hope, but a present reality. The waiting period was over.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus announced the kingdom’s arrival in the synagogue at Nazareth, when he said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming kingdom—given centuries before—had now come to pass at a specific time (AD 30) and in a specific place (the synagogue in Nazareth).
The kingdom of God was birthed in the person and ministry of Jesus. As the late missionary Lesslie Newbigin remarked of the kingdom: “It now had a name and a face—the name and face of the man from Nazareth.”
Jesus was the embodiment of the kingdom of God.
Next time, we will seek to determine what Jesus’ included in his kingdom message.
You can learn more about the kingdom in the book HEAVEN ON EARTH, available @Amazon and at your local bookstore.