As we near the celebration of Easter, our thoughts as Christians should be moving towards the events that surrounded Jesus’ life, death on the cross, and His burial and resurrection from the grave. The amazing thing about Jesus’ first coming is that He inaugurated the kingdom of God!
For most Americans, the concept of a kingdom with a king who rules over his subjects with complete authority is difficult to comprehend. Currently, we live in a culture that allows for a tremendous amount of personal freedom, so the concept of a king with absolute authority can seem distant for many.
But the kingdom of God is mentioned in the gospels 134 times and is a major theme in Jesus’ teachings. As Jesus said in Mark 1:15:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
While kingdom talk was much more common in Jesus’ day, the nature of God’s kingdom is unlike any on earth. His is an upside-down kingdom, totally counter-cultural to those of this world. Let’s look at some of the differences:
- Jesus’ kingdom is present as well as future. It is an already/not yet It is already because God reigns in the hearts of His people through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The already aspect of Jesus’ kingdom is that God reigns now and delivers people from the grip of sin.
- His kingdom is not yet because it is not currently present in fullness. That will come when Jesus returns and establishes His reign on earth for a thousand years. After this, He will fully renew His people and the universe.
- Unlike earthly kingdoms, the moment a person repents and believes in Jesus, he or she is adopted into the family of God with all the rights of a family member.
- Unlike earthly kingdoms, where people seek power and control to determine a person’s self-worth, in Jesus’ kingdom, God’s people are called servants. Christians should not seek power, position or status to determine their self-worth. In Jesus’ kingdom, humility and selflessness are most important and are an evidence that he or she is a kingdom citizen.
- Jesus’ kingdom is established in the hearts of His people and in their relationships. It triumphs over sin, death and Satan.
- All people are welcome to become part of Jesus’ kingdom. All a person must do is simply repent of sin and believe that Jesus Christ died for him/her. Once he/she turns to Jesus for forgiveness, they are a member of God’s kingdom.
As we turn the corner towards Easter, I am grateful for our King, Jesus Christ. He came not as a conquering and valiant warrior, but as a humble servant who sacrificially died for us, His people, and rose from the grave so that we can have eternal life when our time on this earth is done. Not only that, but He gives us abundant life on this earth in deep relationship with Him and in service for His glory.
But always remember this truth: One day Jesus will return, and when He does, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In the weeks leading up to Easter, we will have weekly blog posts that highlight the upside-down, counter-cultural nature of God’s kingdom. Please check back weekly to read and reflect. Our hope is that these posts will help prepare our hearts even more for the wonder of Easter.
All glory be to Jesus Christ our Savior and King!