(Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash)
These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the
Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
When Jesus came out of the wilderness after being tempted by Satan, He left Judea and went to Galilee. He went in the power of the Holy Spirit into the synagogues to regularly preach the Good News:
Jesus' teaching was praised by everyone who heard Him (Lk 4:15) because He spoke with such authority (Mt 7:28-29; Lk 4:32). People genuinely wanted to listen to what Jesus said. Even the religious leaders had been amazed at His wisdom when He was twelve. Now Jesus was thirty years old, and His ministry was going public. Jesus' ministry had three main features: teaching, announcing the Kingdom, and miracles. Today we are focusing on Jesus announcing the kingdom and what it means for people.
THE TIME PROMISED BY GOD HAS COME AT LAST
The people were excited to hear the Messiah had come. Those who had heard John the Baptist preaching were eagerly looking for the Anointed One who would rescue them. The people of Israel were familiar with the stories of what God did in the past, and of the coming Savior. In fact, they observed several feasts each year to commemorate the many ways God had come through for His people in history. But these same people had preconceived ideas of what the Messiah's arrival meant and when they realized Jesus wasn't going to overthrow the government, they became angry and wanted Him crucified.
Today, many Jews are still looking for the Messiah. If only they understood that His first coming has already happened and that we are now looking ahead to His second coming. But they missed Him the first time as have many people. But that doesn't mean it's too late. The time promised by God is still here, and we need to keep telling people as Jesus did.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS NEAR
Throughout Jesus' ministry, He talks about the Kingdom of God. Is it a future hope or a present reality? Jesus told His disciples in Luke 17:21 that it was already among them. He wasn't denying a literal, future kingdom, but rather was telling them it had already begun with His presence. Many were missing it because they only thought the kingdom would come in visible signs where Christ reigned and defeated all their enemies. One day this will happen, but in the meantime, believers can enjoy some of the blessings of the kingdom now. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us because we are part of the kingdom of God now through salvation. But the Bible makes it clear that the kingdom is also a future hope.
The kingdom of God is a literal kingdom that will replace the governments of this world. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of an image of a man with a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron and its feet part iron and part clay. God allowed Daniel to interpret the dream, showing that there would be four world-ruling empires (Dan 2:31-43). These ruling empires are believed to be the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greco-Macedonian and Roman empires. Daniel wrote, “During the reign of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever" (Dan 2:44 NLT).
The kingdom of God will be established on earth when Christ returns. Revelation 11:15 (NLT) says, “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: ‘The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.’” And Jesus told His disciples that when the Kingdom was established, and He was sitting on His glorious throne, they would sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28).
We live by kingdom principles now while we are waiting. To live in the kingdom of God later, we must be born again in this life. At the new birth, God symbolically transfers us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God (Col 1:13). We become citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20) and members of God's family (Eph 2:19). Jesus freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us, and we will rule with Him as priests (Rev 1:6; 5:10). 1 Peter 2:5 tells us we are His holy priests now. Our purpose is to serve God and offer our bodies as living and holy sacrifices in a way that He will find acceptable. We are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Mt 6:33). The Bible is filled with kingdom principles that we are to live by.
REPENT OF YOUR SINS AND TURN TO GOD
Repentance is a fundamental principle for becoming part of the kingdom of God. When Jesus died, He shed His blood on the cross for us. Because of sin, we need a Savior. Entrance into the kingdom requires repentance. To repent means "to change one's mind." True repentance will always result in a change in behavior (Lk 3:8; Acts 26:20). In relation to salvation, repentance is changing one's mind about sin and about Jesus. You didn't accept who He was, but now you do. You thought such and such sinful behavior was okay, but now you know it's not. You were turning away from God, but now you are turning to Him.
Jesus' central message has not changed. When He left this world, He told His disciples to keep telling others. Gentiles were soon included, and now the Good News is for everyone: Jesus has come to save us, and He will return to rule. Repent of your sins, turn to God, and you will have life in His kingdom.