The gospel message of the King and His reign.
Throughout the Gospels we read some ninety references to the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God. It seems everything Jesus said and did was related to this singular mission and purpose.
But not everyone respected it. Pilate’s tone when he asked Jesus, “So you are a king?” (John 18:33, 37) was along the satirical lines of what F. B. Meyer wrote: “Thou poor, worn, tear-stained outcast, forsaken by every friend in this Thy hour of need . . . art Thou a king?” Yet throughout His ministry, Jesus was committed to this kingdom reality.
For example, Jesus urged everyone to seek first the kingdom (Matthew 6:33). His numerous parables all likened the kingdom to some easily understood agricultural or domestic story (Matthew 13). He spoke of how difficult entrance to the kingdom would be for the worldly rich, and He praised kingdom faith (Luke 18:24-30, 35-43). Jesus knew how to communicate the truths of the kingdom in terms people could understand.
Shortly after Jesus was resurrected, He commissioned His disciples into the work of evangelism and discipleship on the basis of “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). Who could say that but the King of heaven and earth!
Heaven and earth
In teaching His disciples to pray, Jesus modeled the famous words “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God has always existed, but for us in this age, its fullness is yet to arrive.
Throughout the Scriptures, we are given glimpses of this kingdom glory. For example, the relationship between heaven and earth was apparent to Jacob when he dreamed of a flight of stairs connecting heaven and earth (Genesis 28:10-17). He sensed the profundity of what he saw: Heavenly angels were ministering assignments for those on earth!
Do we, today, sense the relationship between the two realities — heaven and earth? We gain further insight from Paul’s letter to the Romans, where he states that “The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (8:19). John tells us that we are God’s children now (1 John 3:1). In John 17, Jesus prayed for His disciples who were in the world but not of the world.
Another prime example was Abraham, living as a sojourner, “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). So the question for us is, Do we live according to the principles of Jesus’ kingdom, as opposed to those in this world?
Paul reminded the faithful in Philippi that “our citizenship is in heaven . . .” (Philippians 3:20). Jesus was more specific: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. . . . If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2, 3). Just as Jacob saw in vision, there’s a coming and going between heaven and earth. But one day, as Scripture foretells, God’s kingdom will exist universally “forever and ever” (Daniel 7:18).
These scriptures speak deeply into our hearts today. They should define our identity, anchor our soul, and point us in the only direction toward the kingdom of God. The author of Hebrews noted this journey and highlighted the way there: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith . . .” (Hebrews 12:1, 2).
Along with those who have preceded us, we are pioneers in this age of a coming reality. We are born from above, equipped by the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name into work of evangelism and discipleship. We are witnesses to the imminent awaiting kingdom glory, while still living in a world so foreign from this reality. No wonder John concluded Revelation with his plea, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
Jesus is coming. The kingdom of God is near. Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done” (Revelation 22:12). When that occurs, at that moment, heaven and earth will forever intersect and meld, and Edenic paradise lost will be kingdom glory regained.