Easter Series: “Give Me Jesus”
This Week: “Give Me Jesus’ Kingdom”
Kingdoms have risen and fallen. Kingdoms are often about egos, power, prestige, and ideologies. Because of that, many battles and wars have been waged over one kingdom’s desire to conquer another. But there’s one common denominator with all these kingdoms – they are of this world! They are not perfect. They will ultimately fail or cease to exist.
One of the hopes Jesus brought to his people, the Jews, was that he was the promised Messiah who would bring them a powerful kingdom that would be like no other – greater than David’s, greater than Solomon’s – and restore glory to the Israelite nation. Yet – his life and teachings were so different that it was confusing to many and threatening to those in power. What everyone was missing was a strategic fact that some even struggle with today – his kingdom was “not of this world….is from another place” (John 18:36). It is spiritual to the core! It operates differently than any other kingdom in history! The nature, the purpose, the leadership, the teachings, the requirements of his kingdom often run counter-culture to anything mankind has ever seen.
In Acts 1:1-11, the magnificent event called Jesus’ “Ascension” takes place. He has used the time between the resurrection and his ascension to teach them about “the kingdom of God” (verse 3). When he ascends “being taken from you into heaven” (verse 11), there are two monumental truths that come from this event. One is that Jesus is coming again and will come in the “same way” he was taken – “we will meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The other truth, often overlooked, was that in just a few days (Pentecost, Acts 2), his kingdom would be established upon this earth!
But what does that mean for us personally? How does the kingdom impact me? Here are three understandings about the kingdom that you need to know.
One, the Kingdom is WITHIN YOU! (Luke 17:20-21) When you die to sin and are united with Christ, the reign of Christ comes to fruition in your heart. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:15) When you confess “Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9), you are accepting Jesus as your authority and your master, bringing about a new allegiance, new laws, and a new purpose. You become kingdom-minded. You are in his kingdom and his kingdom is in you!
Two, the Kingdom is THE CHURCH! Jesus used the terms “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably in Matthew 16:18-19. When he ascended, the left behind his body, the church, his kingdom (all the same) to accomplish his will and mission. Where is Jesus right now? In heaven, reigning over his kingdom as “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords”. The church is not an afterthought nor a “plan B” in God’s schemes. It was in the “eternal purpose” of God (Ephesians 3:10) and the prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when Peter and the apostles first used the “keys of the kingdom” through the preaching of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In our modern culture, we use the term church far more than we do any other metaphor, but are we missing something by not acknowledging the church as the kingdom of Jesus? It’s the term he used most often in his teachings. It’s the term and concept that got him crucified! There is definitely a power and a scope that the term “kingdom” brings to our efforts to serve as Christ-followers! You are in his kingdom, the church!
Three, the Kingdom is also HEAVEN! Read 2 Timothy 4:1-8 where the Apostle Paul was looking forward to “his appearing and his kingdom.” Read 2 Peter 1:10-11 where we are promised a “rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Jesus, after his second coming, will “hand over the kingdom to God” (1 Corinthians 15:20-26). Because of that, the question in asked in 2 Peter 3:11 – “What kind of people ought you to be?” The answer? “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed his coming.” Praise God – we are in the kingdom, the kingdom is within us, and we will live forever with the Lord in his heavenly kingdom! Give me Jesus’ Kingdom!