Is God’s kingdom already here?

“After John (the Baptist) was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,” Mark 1:14. And what was that good news of God? “‘The time has come,’ he said, ‘The kingdom of God is near.'”

As John’s ministry came to an end, Jesus’ ministry took over, and off he went to the villages and towns of Galilee to tell people, “The time has come.” Not the time WILL come, but HAS come. As soon as Jesus opened his mouth and started preaching, that was the moment God’s kingdom arrived. I imagine Jesus standing there with a stopwatch in his hand, and with a click of the button he shouts, “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here” (The Message).

And by “God’s kingdom,” Jesus meant what, exactly? He meant exactly what the Old Testament meant, when Isaiah talked of a child being born on whose shoulders the government of God would rest, and with the child’s arrival the “INCREASE of that government” would begin (Isaiah 9:6-7). On this Earth right now, then, the government of God is here, and it’s been growing ever since Jesus began his ministry.

To the Jews in Jesus’ day it was the best news possible, because they’d been looking for, hoping for, and expecting the arrival of the Messiah. They knew the prophecies in the Scriptures that told of a great king coming, a descendant of King David, whose kingdom would crush all kingdoms and usher in a time of peace and prosperity that would never end. And here was Jesus announcing the time had come; that kingdom had arrived.

You’d think they’d be delighted, but there’s a hint of trouble in what Jesus says next. Right after announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom, Jesus then says, “Repent and believe the good news.” That sounds like, “Come on people, open up your ears, did you hear what I just said?” – because the immediate reaction in people wouldn’t be, “Oh wow, the Messiah, the king of God’s kingdom, is here.” Even when everything they’d hoped for was standing in front of them, they’d have trouble believing it was true.

With that in mind I’ve asked myself if I believe it’s true. Do I believe the clear message of the Old Testament that the king of God’s government would come to rule on this earth, that the king is Jesus, and he’s here right now on the earth ruling it, and has been ever since he started preaching? The proof that I believe it is that I don’t see a world out of control. I see it instead as a sailboat going exactly where God blows it. And that’s comforting.

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