What was Jesus’ “Main Thing” when he ministered in our midst some 2,000 years ago? Many New Testament commentators make the case that the core of Jesus’ message and ministry was the kingdom of God. I agree 100%. Let me explain.
A very good case can be made that the essence of Jesus’ words and deeds was that he was decisively demonstrating that God’s kingly purposes and presence was breaking into human history and human lives like never before. The long-awaited messianic King………God’s Anointed One…….God’s Christ……. had finally come. Yes, his identity was veiled in different ways (i.e. born in a manger, born to humble parents). Yet, gleams of divine glory and majesty break forth as the Magi come from the East to pay him homage as the King of the Jews.
The first words out of John the Baptist and Jesus were the same: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Even though Jesus never sought to instigate a conventional revolution through armed revolutionaries, he did powerfully demonstrate, through his healings, exorcisms and bestowal of forgiveness, that he came to defeat and conquer humanity’s biggest enemies. The enemies of death, the devil and the evil in humanity’s hearts which alienate us from God, others and our true selves.
When John the Baptist was languishing in prison and hearing that Jesus was carrying on like a very unconventional king, he sent a message to Jesus: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Mathew 11:3) Jesus replied: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (verses 4 & 5) Jesus was bringing a revolution and a transformation that Stalin and Alexander the Great could only dream about.
But the way Jesus was effecting this revolution was in a very upside down matter. He was reaching out to lepers, prostitutes and other marginalized people and pronouncing forgiveness and bringing wholeness to their brokenness. These type of people ended up being his army sent out with the same message of forgiving love and the same authority to heal brokenness and alienation. His decisive defeat of death, the devil and human evil occurred through his torturous death on the cross. His claims of being God’s Christ/ Anointed One and his victory over the malignant enemies of humanity were vindicated by his heavenly Father when he raised him from the dead and ascended him to his right hand.
The followers of Jesus are called to embody in their lives this Good News of God’s Victory in Christ. And we are called to lovingly proclaim this Gospel to those who are alienated from God and from their true selves. In Christ and through the Gospel we can be restored to our full humanity as we learn to worship God in Spirit and truth. This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Pastor John
This article continued the thoughts from a former post that got lots of attention. That post was called “God’s Covenant Faithfulness and the Kingdom of God.”