When Jesus showed up on the earth, bringing His new kingdom into existence, it was evident that everything changed. The devil’s authority was overthrown (Colossians 2:15, Matthew 28:18). The penalty for the fall of man into sin was paid in full. There was now an offer to every person for salvation, healing, and deliverance, as we choose to follow this new King!
In this post, I want us to fix our attention on how Jesus revealed this new reality during His time on earth. This is especially necessary as there are many Christians who hold to a theological belief that, although Jesus launched His kingdom at His first coming, the benefits of this new kingdom cannot be experienced until His second coming. This view, however, twists or completely overlooks major portions of the gospel narrative! His kingdom is here, now, even if not yet fully realized. The question is not if we can experience it; but how much of His kingdom can we experience now, before He comes again?
The first thing Jesus did as He entered the public ministry, was to declare to Israel that the fulfillment of God’s promise of a new king — a Messiah — was coming to pass in front of their eyes.
According to Luke, after Jesus was baptized (Luke 3:21-22) he spent time in the wilderness overcoming the enemy’s temptations (Luke 4:1-13) and being empowered by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14). Then, in His first act of ministry, He went into the synagogue at Nazareth and revealed Himself as the promised Messiah!
First, he stands up to read from the scriptures. He chooses to read one of the most well-known prophetic promises about the King-to-come from Isaiah 61:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He then puts away the scroll and takes his seat to teach the congregation regarding the scripture. However, instead of giving an exegetical explanation of the passage, Jesus looks at the hopeful Jews and says, essentially, “Ta-da! I’m the one!” The bible says:
And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:20-21 (emphasis mine)
For anyone who says, “Jesus never claimed to be God.” They are wrong. Over and over again, Jesus claims to be one with the Father, and the fulfillment of all the promises. For example, Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Matthew 5:17 (emphasis mine)
He also said
…the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
John 5:37-40 (emphasis mine)
It is clear that Jesus revealed Himself as the King and Messiah of God.
From this first introduction as God’s coming King, Jesus proceeded to spend His entire earthly ministry proclaiming the good news of this new kingdom. Everywhere He went, this was His only message: the kingdom of God has come.
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom…
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom…
Remember, a “gospel” is the “good news” concerning a victory that has taken place. The “good news” Jesus proclaimed, is that the Kingdom of God is here, now, replacing the kingdom of darkness which has reigned since the fall:
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
Luke 17:20-21 (emphasis mine)
In other words, the kingdom of God is right here, within your reach. Don’t miss it!
Beyond His public proclamations, we also see that in every teaching, Jesus had one central message: life in the kingdom of God.
He continually taught the disciples what life in the Kingdom looks like. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 has been called by some scholars, “the Kingdom manifesto,” because Jesus is demonstrating the cultural and lifestyle differences between His kingdom and the kingdoms of men.
In almost every parable, Jesus begins by saying, “the kingdom of God is like…” and “the kingdom of heaven is like…” Just read through Matthew 13 for a number of examples.
It was not enough for His disciples to know that the kingdom was present in Him. He wanted them to understand the new reality which they were being called to live in, themselves. They were being set free from the world’s rules and expectations and must learn to see their lives through the eyes of God’s kingdom culture.
Up until His final teaching at the last supper, Jesus was explaining how life in His kingdom is different:
And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you…”
Although the message of God’s kingdom was a continual theme in Jewish writings and teachings, in hearing it from Jesus, it was different. For the first time, the words being spoken came with authority and demonstrations of power to back them up!
Nicodemus, a Pharisee, testified to Jesus:
Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
John 3:2 (emphasis mine)
Returning to the verses already quoted above, not only did Jesus go around “proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom…” but they go on to say,
…proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.
…proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
Matthew 8:16 says, “they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.” Matthew 12:15 says that, “many followed him, and he healed them all.”
The point is that Jesus didn’t just do a few miracles, signs, and wonders. Everywhere He went He was healing the sick, casting out demons, and demonstrating God’s kingdom. The culture of His kingdom was different, and it was evident! In fact, responding to a challenge by the Pharisees, He declares that all of these signs prove the Kingdom of God is present!
…if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
In another place, He says that the physical manifestations also prove His ability to forgive sin, something only God can do (See Matthew 9:1-8)!
This is why the Apostle Paul, later declares,
For the kingdom realm of God comes with power, not simply impressive words.
1 Corinthians 4:20 (The Passion Translation)
Kingdom Sought After
Jesus not only proclaimed the kingdom with word and demonstrated it with power in His own life; He also tells the disciples that their prayers should be seeking a greater demonstration of this power in the earth as a whole! When he taught them “the Lord’s prayer,” He instructs them to pray and ask God to manifest the Kingdom:
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
As long as we live in this world, our desire and prayers must be focused on His kingdom being manifested around us!
Finally, after revealing, proclaiming, teaching, demonstrating, and telling the disciples to seek the kingdom, He commissioned His followers to join Him in bringing this kingdom to the world.
It began with the 12:
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction… These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
Matthew 10:1, 5-8
Later, the same commission was given to 72 other disciples:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. (And He said to them) Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Luke 10:1, 8-9
As Jesus began to prepare for His departure from the earth, He made this incredible promise:
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
John 14:12 (emphasis mine)
And in His final commission before His ascension, He commissioned the entire church, throughout future generations, to continue proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom of God, until He returns.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (emphasis mine)
Mark’s gospel shares this same commission this way:
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Mark 16:15-18 (emphasis mine)
And that is exactly what happened!
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.
Mark 16:19-20 (emphasis mine)
The Kingdom Is The Point
When we look at all that Jesus taught and did, it becomes clear that He had one mission while on earth, and that was to launch His kingdom among men, ushering us into the rule and reign of God.
To limit Jesus’ gospel to simply the salvation of our souls at the end of time is a big mistake. His Kingdom came then, it is here now, and it will increase for all eternity (Isaiah 9:7). As believers, we must join Him on this mission of revealing His kingdom to the lost world, until the day He comes again (Matthew 24:14).
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Anthony Scott Ingram.