While theologians have long debated Jesus’ true mission, that of apocalyptic prophet, sage teacher of wisdom, or sacrificial lamb, the variety of images and stories of Jesus seems to point to one reality: an experience of someone who is beyond all description while at the same time being the embodiment of that for which the deepest human yearnings strive…One thing most New Testament scholars agree on- and they don’t agree on much- is that Jesus’ main aim was the kingdom of God- not some saccharine vision of a future in heaven, but a clear political statement about the here and now. As John Dominic Crossan says: ”Basically it’s awfully simple. It means asking ourselves what would the world look like if God sat on Caesar’s throne…What Jesus is saying is ‘Rome you are not the kingdom of God. You’re not even the will of God’”.
Living the Questions, Felton and Proctor-Murphy
Lord, help us to see and understand.
Who is Jesus for you? To which kingdom do you give your allegiance?
How do you decide?
“Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others,
one of the prophets.”
But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of thekingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, / because he has anointed me / to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Advance the Kingdom of God through the building of a more just and equitable society.
In the teaching of Jesus, however, as in the New Testament as a whole, the kingdom of God has specific reference to the fulfillment of the promises of God in the Old Testament of the time when God puts forth his royal power to end injustice and oppression by this world’s evil powers and to establish his rule of righteousness, peace and joy for humanity—in a word, to fulfill his purpose in creating the world. The gospels were written to show how the accomplishment of that task was and is the intention of the mission of Jesus.
Our word “kingdom,” it turns out, misses the precise sense of Jesus’ own language. What he proclaimed was not the approach of a place where God rules (our typical sense of “kingdom”), but rather the dawning of God’s authority on earth. Thus, when we read the phrase “kingdom of God” in the Gospels, we need to think in terms of God’s reign, rule, authority, or sovereignty.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts
The kingdom of God was utterly central to Jesus. One New Testament scholar has written: Ask any 100 New Testament scholars what was most central to Jesus’ message, and all 100 will answer: The kingdom of God.
In a radical way the vision of the kingdom of God that pervades his teaching overturns unjust relations: the last shall be first and the first last so that in the end a new kind of community may form.
We need to shed our unearthly and nonsocial and idealistic and romantic and uber-spiritual visions of kingdom and get back to what Jesus meant. By kingdom, Jesus means: God’s Dream Society on earth, spreading out from the land of Israel to encompass the whole world.