Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Kingdom Now

Life of Christ 70

          Following the corporate rejection by Israel of Jesus Christ under the direction of the Pharisees in Matthew 12 many things changed. One of those things is that Jesus immediately began to speak, for the first time, of His coming death and resurrection (Matthew 12.39-40). In other words, He is no longer looking toward a coronation but instead to a cross. To follow this thought in reference to the kingdom, Jesus would no longer announce the literal Kingdom as being at hand, but rather that it had been postponed. The fulfillment of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants will now have to wait for His Second Coming.
          Besides informing our understanding of the arc of His life, what does this mean for us? Well, immediately after these events in Matthew 12 Jesus proceeds to give several parables in Matthew 13 to explain and emphasize the kingdom of God. We know, at this point, He isn't talking about a literal throne and the fulfilling of the covenants, yet still He points His people to the idea of the kingdom of God. At one point, He specifically says in the text that this is the reason for these parables. 'And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given' (Matthew 13.10-11).
          In a scriptural context a mystery is something that was not previously known that is now revealed. For instance, the Church is described in Scripture as a mystery (Ephesians 5.32). The idea or concept of the Church wasn't even dreamed about by the prophets in the Old Testament, but it was clearly revealed in the New Testament. Jesus is saying, then, to His Apostles in Matthew 13 that there is some aspect of the kingdom that was not previously understood that is now being revealed. In other words, He gives these sets of parables specifically to explain and emphasize, not only that the idea of the kingdom had shifted, but also that they might understand what it now meant.
          If the coronation and the crown will now have to wait for His Second Coming than it wouldn't be unfair to say that His first coming, and thus the new or revised concept of the kingdom has much more to do with the cross. As God's people, we don't necessarily like hearing that. We would rather our religion be about a throne than about a cross, but our rathers are wrong. 'Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body' (II Corinthians 4.10). 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' (Galatians 2.20). Scripture is clear – the life we are supposed to lead, in this dispensation, is the crucified life. 'And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts' (Galatians 5.24).
          Was there anything of His life that Jesus held back? Was there anything of His life that Jesus kept for Himself? Was there anything that Jesus refused to give up, or to do, or to yield? No, all the way up to a cross. 'Let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt' (Matthew 26.39).
          It is just this idea of yielding everything we are or want or have to the Lord that marks the mature believer. It is just this that is the kingdom of God in our dispensation. No, we won't sit on a throne and rule over the world in our current Christian life, but we are still called to the kingdom of God. Well, what is the kingdom of God if it isn't a throne? Simply this: the kingdom of God is the complete rule of God in my life. It is when I yield everything up to Him, when the crucified life of Christ is lived out in my life, and when He rules me completely. 'Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it' (Matthew 13.44-46).
          Jesus came to be Israel's King. She rejected Him. So He turned to the cross, and in it, not only bought my redemption, but my allegiance to His kingship, not on the throne of Israel, but on the throne of my heart.

          Is the King in residence in your heart today? Have you yielded to Him as your King? Has the kingdom of God come to your heart and life?

If you would like to hear the audio version of this blog you may find it here on our church website. Just press 'launch media player' and choose We Preach Christ 41, 'The Kingdom of God'.

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