Biblical scholarship agrees: the central focus of Jesus Christ’s earthly mission was the kingdom of God. For instance, when Matthew describes the ministry of Jesus Christ, he says this, “And he [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” (Matt. 4:23) Similarly, when Mark summarizes Jesus message, he cites these familiar words, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). At the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, Luke takes us to Nazareth where Jesus stands and reads from Isaiah 61 about the coming kingdom and then concludes with this bold statement, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve likely heard pastors speak of “the kingdom of God” or “the kingdom of heaven,” but it might not be clear what is meant by that terminology. In short, to speak of God’s kingdom is to speak of God’s rule and authority. For instance, when we pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done” in the Lord’s prayer, we are praying that God’s perfect rule and authority in heaven would increasingly be manifest on earth.
As the Gospels indicate, the coming of the kingdom of God is tied with the advent of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ’s first coming, we see the inauguration of God’s rule on the earth. That is, we witness the beginning of what the prophets had long ago foretold would take place when the Messiah arrived (Isaiah 40:9-11, 52:7-10; Zech. 14:9). Through His miracles and teaching, Jesus brings a foretaste of the rule of God’s saving power. In the cross and resurrection, He defeated the kingdom of darkness and established the kingdom of light and life (Col. 1:13). In His second coming, the full flowering of that established kingdom will be brought to completion—the earth being filled with the knowledge of God (Hab. 2:14).
On June 2nd (Ascension Sunday), we will break from our series on Genesis and begin a ten-week series on life in the kingdom of God. We will take a slow walk through the most familiar and, quite possibly, the most misunderstood teaching of Jesus Christ on the kingdom—the Beatitudes. In preparation for this important series, take time this week to read through Matthew 5:1-16, asking the Lord to bring His kingdom more and more into our midst (Luke 17:21).
“Blessed: Life in the Kingdom of God”
· June 2 – Matthew 5:1-12, “The Kingdom of God and the Christian Life”
· June 9 – Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit”
· June 16 – Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who Mourn”
· June 23 – Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the Meek”
· June 30 – Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness”
· July 7 – Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the Merciful”
· July 14 – Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the Pure in Heart”
· July 21 – Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the Peacemakers”
· July 28 – Matthew 5:10-11, “Blessed are those who are Persecuted”
· August 4 – Matthew 5:13-16, “The Kingdom of God and Christian Witness”