The Kingdom of God is Near!
“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
After announcing that God’s time had finally come, Jesus focused the Good News in a few words: “The Kingdom of God is near!” (1:15). But what did this mean? And how can this be good news for us today?
When we hear the word “kingdom,” we tend to think of the place over which a king rules. But in Aramaic, the primary language of Jesus, the word malku pointed not so much to the place of royal rule as to that rule itself. Where we read “kingdom” in Mark, we might substitute “rule” or “reign” or “sovereign authority.” When Jesus said “The malku of God is near,” he was pointing to the coming of God’s authority and power. He was fulfilling the role of the messenger of Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation that the God of Israel reigns!”
Years ago, I used to think that Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom being near meant something like, “You can go to heaven after you die.” Now I realize that I had mistaken Jesus’ primary message. Though his Good News does relate to what happens after death, it also has everything to do with this life. In Jesus, God was beginning to reign on earth in a new way, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Under God’s sovereign authority, righteousness would triumph over injustice and multifaceted peace would fill the earth.
Through Christ, you and I can live today under the reign of God, however incompletely. When we seek God’s agenda for our lives, when we live for his purposes and glory, when we bow before him in worship, we are experiencing the kingdom of God, in anticipation of that day when all the earth will flourish under the glorious reign of God.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: In what ways do you experience God’s reign in your life? What would it mean for you to recognize God’s sovereignty when you’re at work? at school? at church? on the soccer field? at a family reunion? etc.?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, what fantastic news you once delivered: The Kingdom of God is near! Thank you for being the one who not only announced the coming of God’s reign, but also inaugurated that reign through your ministry. Thank you, most of all, for opening up to me the possibility of living under God’s rule because of your death and resurrection.
Help me, Lord Jesus, to live each moment as a subject of the King of kings. Guide me, empower me, and use me for your purposes. May the reality of your kingdom be seen in my life each and every day. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.