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October 18, 2011

The Kingdom of God

Mark 1:14-15, Page 1558

      The Kingdom of God dominates the Bible.  Some people say that it is one of the central themes of the entire Bible.  We hear about the Kingdom of God in the preaching of Jesus Christ.  As we study the Bible today, we see that Jesus was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and linked it to the Kingdom of God.

Mark 1:14, Page 1558

“Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,”

        John the Baptist Taken into Custody.   We have read already about the wonderful ministry of John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus.  Now we read in very short terms that John the Baptist has been imprisoned.  Mark does not focus upon the details of the imprisonment, but uses that event as a time marker in the life of Jesus (see the fuller details at Matthew 14:1-12, pages 1525-1526).  Jesus moved out of Judea and Jerusalem to Galilee in the north. 

       Preaching the Gospel of God.  Preaching (“κηρύσσων“) formed an essential part of the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth (Luke 4:43, page 1604).  After leaving Judea, Jesus came preaching into Galilee.  When we read about all the fantastic miracles that Jesus performed, we should never lose sight of the central point that Jesus came to save sinners, by giving His life a ransom for many sinners, and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus preached all the time, going place to place.  He commissioned His disciples to go an preach: “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand'” (Matthew 10:7, page 1516; Mark 3:14, page 1562).  I have a concern today that people have far more interest in seeing miracles happen on a stage, than hearing the word of God preached from the Scriptures.  Jesus came preaching the Gospel of God that saves men and women, boys and girls, old and young, from their sins by faith in Him alone.  Jesus identified the substance of His message as the Gospel of God.  As we have seen, Jesus particularly identified the poor as people who have the Gospel preached to them (Matthew 11:5, page 1518).  We see the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, page 1800.  Because the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes His death, burial and resurrection, notice that Jesus was preaching here the Gospel of God.   This Gospel of God, offered to the people of Israel during the preaching ministry of Jesus on earth, has significant blessings for the people of Israel, who did not receive Messiah, but ultimately crucified Him.

Mark 1:15, Page 1558

“and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

       The Time Is Fulfilled. Throughout the Bible, God teaches us that He alone controls history on earth.  He created the earth and everything living in connection with it (John 1:2-3, page 1653).  In Mark 1:15, page 1558, we see that God followed s specific timetable for the appearing of Jesus Christ.  Jesus knew Himself to be the Messiah, and knew His time for preaching and offering the kingdom had arrived.  He proclaimed the time had come for repentance and belief.

       The Kingdom Is at Hand.  Early in the preaching of Jesus, He proclaimed that that the Kingdom of God was at hand.  What did Jesus mean?  Several texts point to the fact that the Kingdom of God was still future: (1) Jesus taught His disciples to pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:10, page 1509); (2) the kingdom will be entered on the judgment day (Matthew 7:21-22), when the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43).  Only born-again believers may see the kingdom of God (John 3:3, page 1657) and only born-again believers may enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5, page 1657).  We see other passages that indicate the people hearing Jesus conceived of the kingdom of God as still future, even at the time of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11:10, page 1580).  The parable of the nobleman illustrates how the nobleman went away, received the kingdom, and then returned to rule at a later date (Luke 19:11-27, pages 1638-1639).  Notice in Luke 19:11, page 1638, the crowds were expecting the kingdom of God to appear immediately, and so Jesus told the parable of the nobleman to correct their expectations.  Jesus also describes the coming of the kingdom of God as yet future in Matthew 24:33, page 1546.  Jesus makes the point that He is the King of Israel, and because the King is present, the kingdom of God is very near.  Jesus offers Himself as King of Israel to His people, but His own received Him not and rejected His offer of the Kingdom (John 1:11, page 1653).  Jesus also taught that, in some sense, the kingdom of God has come upon the people in His audience, who witnessed His miracles of casting out demons (Matthew 12:28, page 1521).  After the people of Israel rejected the message and ministry of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, then Jesus began preaching about the future kingdom  (Matthew 12:22-50, pages 1520-1522).  After the people rejected His offer of the Kingdom of God, Jesus then began to emphasize the future kingdom (Matthew 13:10-58, pages 1523-1525).  As Jesus stood before Pilate, Jesus declared that His kingdom was not of this world, but He also emphasized that He Himself was surely a the King (John 18:36, 1692).  We should keep in mind that while Jesus was speaking of His spiritual kingdom to Pilate, the physical kingdom of God would come to earth in the future, at the same time that the nobleman returned to rule over His kingdom which He received while on a distant journey.  All the promises of Jesus returning to earth, fulfilling the Old and New Testament prophecies about Jesus ruling on earth, will yet be fulfilled in the future.  As believers, we long for the return of Christ to inaugurate His rule upon earth.

       Repent and Believe in the Gospel.  In Mark 1:15, page 1558, Jesus described His invitation as “repent and believe.”  Just as John the Baptist came before Jesus preaching the need for repentance, so also Jesus preached repentance and belief.  Notice that Jesus used two commands here: (1) repent and (2) believe.  Jesus commanded people in His preaching to make decisions and act upon His words.  Today, as we share the Gospel, people must obey Jesus.  They too must repent and believe.  Jesus delivered to us this Gospel of Jesus Christ, to turn away from sin and turn to Him by faith through grace.

        So we learn more about the preaching of Jesus.

    ●  Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of God. 

    ●  Jesus preached that the time had been fulfilled.

    ●  Jesus preached that Kingdom of God was at hand, and the time had come to repent and believe.

Application for Today

        As I live today, I intend to listen to Jesus preaching to me and everyone else about the Kingdom of God.  I have been born again, and by faith alone, I see the kingdom of God and have entered into the spiritual kingdom of God.  Yet, I look forward to Jesus returning to earth, standing on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem, and beginning His physical reign upon the earth.  Unit that day, we will all be sharing the message of Jesus Christ, that the time has come to repent and believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.  Will you be spiritually walking in the Kingdom of God?  Are you awaiting for the King to return, and living today in the joyful expectation?

 

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