Look at the people in the picture below. Something has really captured their attention and they are closely observing it. Jesus said the Kingdom of God would not come with signs to be observed (Luke 17:20 – 21). According to Him, the Kingdom was already in the midst of those inquiring about it. How could they have missed it?
The Kingdom in Jesus
“The truth is that there’s nothing obvious about the Kingdom of God. In fact, if we humbly allow Scripture to tell us something we don’t assume we already know, we’ll see that the meaning of the Kingdom of God contradicts the most “obvious” truths of our culture and every culture. As is typical, instead of giving us an abstract definition of the Kingdom of God, Scripture gives us a narrative. It is the narrative that is centered on the person of Jesus Christ.
“Throughout the Gospels Jesus is depicted as the perfect embodiment – the incarnation — of “the Kingdom of God.” When Jesus was present, Scripture shows, the Kingdom of God was present. He was in his incarnate form the dome in which God was king – the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus Modeled the Kingdom
In Jesus we see what life looks like when lived under the rule of God. While many people in His day didn’t catch that, there was someone who did. And this “Someone” was the least likeliest person of all: A Roman Centurion. Look at his conversation with Jesus in Matthew 8:5 – 9.
When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” ESV (Emphasis added)
This Roman Centurion understood authority. He was the embodiment of what it meant to live under the government of Rome. As he observed the Lord Jesus, he realized that Jesus was also acting under authority. That is why he knew if Jesus would simply say the word, his servant would be healed. If Jesus said the word, it was because the One under whose government He lived and ministered had authorized Him to do so. What an amazing insight from an unexpected source!
Statements by Jesus
The insight of the Roman is confirmed by statements made by Jesus Himself. Let’s look at a few.
“I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.” John 5:30 NLT
“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” John 6:38 NLT
“I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.” John 14:30 – 31 NLT
As we look closely at these statements we can observe at least 3 things:
1. Jesus was not the one initiating His actions. Instead, He was busily carrying out the will of His Father.
2. He had a strong sense of being sent. He knew He was here as an ambassador, representing the interests of Another.
3. His obedience was born of love. This would have made it a joyful obedience.
How Did They Miss It?
The people of the day were expecting the Kingdom to arrive with a lot of fanfare. Instead, it arrived in the form of a Person. The Kingdom was being lived out right in front of them and they were completely blind to it. Let us make sure we don’t miss the Kingdom. All we have to do is look to Jesus. He is the model what it is to truly live in the Reign.