Whole Life Whole Bible Day 29
Mark 1:14-15 (NASB)
14 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
28: The Lord reigns
‘The kingdom of God has come near.’ That’s the summary of Jesus’ message when he bursts on to the scene in Galilee. What was he talking about? What is the ‘kingdom of God’ or the ‘kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew’s preferred phrase)?
The first thing to note is that the kingdom of God is not primarily a place — the place where God lives or the place we go to when we die. Instead, when we read of the ‘kingdom’, we should think of the kingship of God, the exercise of his royal rule. Jesus was effectively saying that God was at last beginning to reign.
It’s not that he wasn’t king already, of course! But the Jews of Jesus’ time were living under foreign rule, and had been for centuries. If Israel were truly God’s people, why were pagans ruling them? They might well be back in their land, but it was almost as if they were still in exile. They were certainly still waiting for God to act on their behalf, to step in and exercise his full kingship. And Jesus announces the good news that that time has now come.
So whenever Jesus exercised the authority of God, he was putting down a marker for the kingdom. ‘If it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons’, he argued, ‘then the kingdom of God has come upon you’ (Matthew 12:28). Such events were a foretaste of the victory that Jesus won over Satan by his death and resurrection, when, ‘having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (Colossians 2:15). The final establishment of the kingdom, of course, awaits Jesus’ return, ‘when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power’ (1 Corinthians 15:24).
Where does this leave us, living as we do between Jesus’ resurrection and his final triumph? We are called, as his followers, to proclaim the kingdom and live out its values as ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’ (Matthew 5:13–14). Proclaim and live out — a double challenge. In an age desperately in need of values to live by, we are called to speak up for the values of the kingdom — for integrity, truthfulness and compassion. Then, we seek to live by these values in our families, communities and workplaces, proclaiming by our lives that God reigns.
For further reflection and action
‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10). What might it mean for you, in your particular situation, to pray this prayer today?
Here’s something to mull over, perhaps with another Christian: what is the relationship between the ‘kingdom’ and the ‘church’?
As a citizen of the kingdom, an ambassador for Christ, where is your ‘frontline’ (the place where you spend most of your time in an ordinary week)? How, at this point, can you seek to challenge prevailing attitudes and ways of doing things, and seek to recommend kingdom values?
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.