JESUS AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Jesus spoke repeatedly of the arrival of God’s kingdom, both present and future as “good news”. What did He mean by “good news”? What was the good news He announced by His coming? When the Romans arrived on the scene in the already-occupied-by-Greece land of Israel, for the Jews it was bad news. The presence of the Roman authorities was not only an affront to their sovereignty as a nation and their freedom as a people, but it also brought with it many forms of suffering.
They could never forget that they were an occupied nation. The Romans were everywhere, waiting to clamp down on them and quell any signs of rebellion. The people were subjected to severe taxation which left many of them impoverished and resentful of their overlords and those of their own people who worked for them. What’s more, their religious hierarchy were in cahoots with Rome, benefitting handsomely from applying whatever pressure was necessary to keep the peace.
Jesus’s announcement of good news might have sent His disciples’ pulses racing but for one thing – He made no attempt to deal with the Romans. In fact He practised and taught the opposite; He healed people indiscriminately, in response to their faith and not according to their race; He taught His disciples to love their enemies, and to submit to their overlords. That did not sit well with the religious zealots who were more than eager to get rid of the Romans by whatever means it took.
So, if the good news was not about ridding Israel of Roman occupation and re-establishing the glory of the Davidic kingdom, what was it about? To understand His message, we must go back to the Old Testament. Isaiah prophesied of a day that was to come when Jerusalem would be restored after the devastation of captivity. He offered good news to the people of Zion.
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say in Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. (Isa. 52:7-8)
“Your God reigns!” That was the good news but what did it mean and when would this happen? God would finally dealt with their core problem – sin – and deliver them once for all from the ravages of sin through His Suffering Servant. Isaiah graphically described, in fifteen verses (Isa 52:13- 53: 12) the nature of this deliverance – the sacrifice of the innocent for the guilty so that the guilty may be forgiven and be reconciled to God.
Inherent in Jesus’s message of good news was the restoration of God’s authority over His people when their sin was atoned for and removed once for all. This was not about Rome. This was about an occupation far more sinister and far-reaching than Rome’s. Their hearts were occupied by a usurper whose power over them had to be destroyed by exposing his deception and breaking his hold over them so that they could return to the God who had called them into a covenant with Him.
Jesus announced that the time had come for this to be accomplished. God was at hand to establish His reign in their hearts once again. Through them, He would extend it into every corner of society and every part of the globe until Jesus returns to dispose of the devil and establish His eternal kingdom on earth.
Adam and Eve sold out to the deceiver who aspired to usurp God’s place as Lord! Over the millennia, the devil has done everything in his power to own and keep this title by enslaving the human race through the sin, sorrow and suffering that came with their disobedience. The good news Jesus brought was truly “good news”. God said, “Enough is enough! Satan has had his day and now the time for deliverance has come.”
God’s reign is intended to restore righteousness and justice in the earth where evil reigns and destroys. When Jesus is acknowledged as Lord by every person who has ever lived and every angelic being, good or evil, Satan and all evil will finally be disposed of to the place where he belongs. All creation will know that Jesus is Lord and not the devil or any of the false gods he has hidden behind from the beginning of time.
The new era of the kingdom of God was ushered in when Jesus came, which He demonstrated by His words and works. The kingdom of God is among us now, but not yet in its fullness. It will only come fully when Jesus returns to reign over His redeemed people and a renewed and restored earth.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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