Summary: An attempt to define what the kingdom of God is and is about!
We’re looking at the message of Jesus, I don’t think we have really go Jesus sussed out. A Bucket of surprises p.91 – Joke.
We’ve seen jesus came declaring God’s revolution has arrived, it’s time to change the way you’re living and believe it’s true. But it was a very different type of revolution to the one that was expected – one that would smash Rome and make Israel chief among the nations. So different that in the end his own people co-operated with Rome and crucified him. Whenever you read the Gospels please remember that this was uppermost in the minds of his disciples & audiences, it was therefore on Jesus’ mind in the sense that he was always trying to get them to see that his kingdom was different. He was calling them to a different kind of kingdom. This is a vital key to understanding Jesus’ message in the Gospels.
We’ve seen that Jesus central message, his Good News/Gospel was God’s kingly rule was near. But what does that mean? Today kingdoms are not what they were, kings do not wiled the power they did. I doubt that Jesus would use that phrase today. Then it was highly significant. The most powerful kingdom in the world (Caesar’s) would give way to God’s. so what is “the kingdom of God?” (Next week suggest some alternative pictures to convey God’s kingdom)
1. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
The Lord’s prayer gives us a big clue as to what the Kingdom of God means. It is the rule of God, it is God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. The kingdom of God is the inbreaking rule and will of God. Whenever and wherever you find the will of God being done on earth, there is the kingdom. The implications of that are massive.
What are the things we would describe as the will of God? Healing? What is healing? People getting better? We have a well developed sense that miraculous healing is a sign of the kingdom, it is saying the kingdom is coming, it’s here. Jesus healed the lepers, today man has learned how to do that too. Medicine is man learning to do the things that God has always been able to do. If you go into hospitals today you will find manifestations of the kingdom of God in people being healed. I have a heightened appreciation for the skill of surgeons. I have thanked God for their dedication and skill. Now some of you will think but what about those doctors who aren’t Christians? Let me ask you another question: “Is it God’s will that people get better?” If yes then his will is being done on earth, his kingdom rule that brings health to people is coming. Let’s broaden it: the sick getting better, the poor being fed, peace in the world, in families and societies; love for our fellow man; honesty and integrity in business; education that enriches the lives of children and enables them to fulfil their potential - the list is endless. They are God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven, they are life being lived as God wants it to be lived, they are signs of the kingdom. It is why Christians down through the ages have been at the forefront of these things. Spurgeon said “a little faith will take you to heaven, but I pray for the kind of faith that will bring heaven to earth.”
Paul speaks of the kingdom to the Romans as not being about arguments about what is permissible to eat and drink (some Christians get hung up on these things) but “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy spirit.”(Rom. 14:17). The kingdom is the good rule of God, it is bringing the life and rule of the age to come into the now. That is what the Lord’s prayer, the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, is all about. It is to be prayed for now – I have found fresh vigour in praying the Lord’s prayer. But Jesus intends for us to more than a prayer, he expects us to work for it, to give our lives for his Kingdom, for his will to be done on earth as it is on heaven. Whether that is in commerce, or in education, child care, in the home, in health, in the church, here and abroad. Jesus was declaring that the rule which brings God’s will to earth was now among men.
2. The in-breaking shalom of God
A glimpse into this meaning of the Kingdom of God is provided in this word “shalom”. Some who have studied the kingdom say that the Old Testament word that describes what the kingdom is about “shalom”. It is used 236 times in the OT, it is a word/picture that pervades the whole of the Old Testament. It is sometimes translated “peace” but that simply does not do it justice, it is untranslatable. Jews still use it to greet one another. The nearest we might have come across is in Star Trek (yes I did say Star Trek) when Mr Spock made a V shape with the span of his nad and said “Live long and Prosper!” Strongs Concordance sums it up like this