“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15
I don’t know about you, but when I read this when I was younger, I was confused. Jesus is STARTING his ministry, and he says “believe the gospel.” Then I would say “Well what the heck? The gospel hasn’t happened yet. Come on Jesus, don’t you know? You still have to do your ministry, what are you talking about, believe the gospel?” It seriously never made sense.
Well, as you may know, gospel means “good news”. So Jesus is saying “the kingdom of heaven is at hand, repent and believe the good news.” ok, it’s making more sense, but why do I have to repent? Do I just feel bad about my sin and believe so I can get into heaven? Well repent means “change the way you think.”
So Jesus is saying “the kingdom of heaven is at hand, change the way you think, and believe the good news.”
Jesus’s focus in all the gospels may actually surprise you. He talks about the kingdom of God far more than being born again, or even healing. As much as I believe in both. Well I’d like to know more about this kingdom. The biggest thing I was shocked to find out after reading the Bible with “born again” eyes, was this;
The kingdom of God is more often referring to God’s rule on this earth than it is referring to heaven as a place.
Here’s the key verse; “Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10
Jesus is telling us to ask God’s kingdom to come here on this earth, in the way that it is in heaven. Jesus is more interested in what the Father wants, than what he wants. (They want the same thing, but you get the point.) The Father’s desire is that this world would look like heaven. Welp. Not looking too much like heaven, except some places. What are the attributes of heaven? No one is living in sin, no one is living with sickness or infirmity. No one is angry at each other, there is peace and justice in heaven.
Where is this kingdom?
You’d think with such a name, you would be able to see a king and a palace. You’d see a land he ruled over, right? This is what Jesus said; “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21
Where is the kingdom? Within you! Jesus demonstrated what this looked like. He said “the kingdom is at hand” and he forgave sin, and healed the sick. He taught the poor, AND WOMEN. (Which was something a rabbi would never do.) he told his disciples; “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:7-8
This is for us too. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus said “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
So if he is telling us to do everything he told his disciples, that includes everything the kingdom comes with. Loving our enemies, forgiving people, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead. All these things bring the kingdom to the earth. This is all done by fellowship and interaction with the Holy Spirit. He is the one who makes it all come to pass.
If we want to change the world, we’re going to have to repent, (change the way we think) and believe the good news about the kingdom.