Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Kind of Kingdom?

“The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; no one will ever conquer it. It will shatter all these kingdoms into nothingness, but it will stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44) This was the conclusion of Daniel's interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue. (“His Purpose”)

And then later, in Daniel’s own vision, one who “looked like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven…approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. He was given authority, honor, and royal power over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14)

Years before Daniel interpreted the dreams of the king of Babylon and received his own visions of future events, Isaiah had also prophesied about the coming King and His Kingdom: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the LORD Almighty will guarantee this!” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Clearly, there is power, majesty, authority and eternal rule in the Kingdom of God; along with peace, fairness, and justice.

But a Servant King?

It is easy to see why many misunderstood the Kingdom of God. Even Jesus’ disciples were confused, and argued over who would be greatest in Jesus’ Kingdom. And the mother of James and John once boldly requested that Jesus guarantee her sons places to sit at Jesus’ left and right (Matthew 20:21). What a thing to ask! But it was how she understood the Kingdom, and she wanted her sons to be honored. Can we blame her?

Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4)

Repentance and humility. Becoming like a child. Not looking for a place of honor or position. This is the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus unveiled.

“For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served, but to serve others and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

During Jesus’ lifetime, Jews were anxiously awaiting their Messiah. Hopefully one who would free them from Roman oppression. Many did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah because he did not match their hopes or expectations in the political arena.

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, and I am very pleased with him. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout; he will not raise his voice in public. He will not quench those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory. And his name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matthew 12:18-21, quoting Isaiah 42:1-4)

On the road to Emmaus, the resurrected Jesus revealed Himself to two of his disciples, who were full of grief over who they had thought Jesus to be (“Welcoming Unmet Expectations”). Jesus opened up the Scriptures to them (Luke 24:27), so that they could understand His true purpose in coming to the earth and know that the prophecies about the Messiah had been fulfilled perfectly and completely through His life and death. As Jesus had hung on the cross, and proclaimed, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), they now understood what he had finished. And this new understanding changed everything!

A short time later, Jesus appeared to a gathering of His followers in Jerusalem.

“When I was with you, I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true.” Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day. With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.’” (Luke 24:44-47)

The Kingdom of God is for the forgiveness of sins for all who turn to Jesus. This is the Good News. The Best News we could ever receive. And it filled the disciples with great joy (Luke 24:52).

Have we experienced this great joy? And does it compel us to take Jesus’ message of repentance, with His authority, to all the nations?

“Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, just as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)

1 comment:

  1. I highly recommend the book Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher J.H. Wright. This book taught me a lot about Jewish expectations of the Messiah and the way Jesus completely fulfilled OT prophecy.

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