Do you know what Jesus taught about more than anything else? Not money, sin, evangelism, or sacrifice. The subject of most of Jesus’ recorded teaching was the kingdom of God. The coming of the kingdom of God was about a new day that was dawning. The old, broken way of doing things was no more. Sin could not over power it. Death could not over come it. Nature could not prevent it. Not even Satan and the powers of darkness could subdue the kingdom. Jesus’ mission was to usher in the kingdom of God with power. He was not ushering in an earthly kingdom to combat an earthly foe as his accusers would later accuse him of. No, he came for something much bigger than that. He was ushering in a kingdom that had all power, dominion, and authority.
In the Gospel of Mark there are three principle agents who are acting to advance the kingdom. The all have the same message and similar actions.
1 – John the Baptist
2 – Jesus
- Message – Repent (Mark 1:14-15)
- Action/Function – Ushering in the kingdom of God with power (we will discuss verses below)
3 – Disciples
- Message – Repent (Mark 6:6b-13)
- Action/Function – Usher in the kingdom of God by Jesus’ power (6:7)
Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of Mark (1:14-15) are about the kingdom of God and the need to repent…to turn from the kingdom of this world and to the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a radical departure from the kingdom of this world. God is calling people out of the world, out of sin, out of darkness, even out of death. To be a part of God’s kingdom you have to part ways with the kingdom of this world – Repent! – and claim allegiance to God’s kingdom. You cannot be of the kingdom of God and of the world. 1 John 2:15-17 says it is an either or. You either follow the kingdom of the world, which passes away or kingdom of God.
What Jesus Came to Do:
I was always under the impression that Jesus healed people because he was a nice guy and that he did miracles with nature because he was trying to show how powerful he was. I thought he cast out demons because he was just helping out. There is more to Jesus than that. There is a bigger picture of what Jesus was accomplishing than the hundreds or thousands he healed in his three years of ministry that only covered a spot of ground the size of Rhode Island. Jesus didn’t heal because he was nice. Jesus was breaking through everything that was wrong with the world in order to bring renewal that can only come through God’s power and in God’s kingdom. He was taking away the power from all opposition to God’s kingdom. He was silencing all competing voices so that God’s voice could be heard more clearly. The kingdom of God was breaking into the world and that is why Jesus healed. That is why he cast out demons. That is why he showed his power over the storms and that is why he even raised the dead.
Jesus was demonstrating his authority over the powers of this world In all of Jesus’ miracles in Mark he commands. He commands because he has power and authority over each thing that opposes the kingdom:
- Power of darkness – Jesus commands the demons and they obey (Mark 1:21ff)
- Jesus commands the sick to be well “Get up, take your mat and go home” and they were (2:1ff)
- Jesus commands the storm “Be still” and it was (Mark 5)
Jesus demonstrated that the kingdom had come with a greater authority and power than the world to renew the world and to set things right, to bring restoration and wholeness, to repair broken lives and even to forgive sins. In Luke 7:18-23 John the Baptist found himself in some hot water, awaiting his own death, he sent word to Jesus to make sure Jesus was the one to come – the Messiah. Notice Jesus’ answer – he heals some sick, casts out some demons, and restores sight to the blind. Then he tells them to go tell John what they have just witnessed. The message is clear – Jesus was ushering in the kingdom of God not just through his message but also through his actions. The kingdom is not just a bunch of good ideas – the kingdom is actively working to restore mankind into relationship with God.
In John 16:33 Jesus said that he has overcome the world. But in John 16:33 he hasn’t died yet. Normally we think of Jesus overcoming the world through the cross and the empty tomb. How can he say he has overcome the world in John 16? He is 4 chapters early! What Jesus is saying is that all through his ministry, through his teaching and miracles, he was demonstrating his power and authority over the powers of this world that were set against the kingdom of God. The world would throw one final thing his way – the cross. But even that he would overcome.
The Implication for us – In this world you will have trouble – but take heart. Why? Because Jesus has disarmed all the powers and overcome all the obstacles. So hang in there because victory is on its way.In Mark 3:24-27 Jesus compares the devil to a strong man who has a house with lots of valuable things in it. Before you can take his things you have to tie him up. Jesus has the authority to subdue Satan, go into his household and take out the valuables, that is, the lives Satan has claimed for himself. We need to realize that if we are of Christ – we are freed people. We were under lock and key when we followed the ways of this world but in Christ we have been set free from sin and death. We have been given spiritual liberty. We have been renewed and redeemed. You have been ransomed from sin only because Jesus had the power to take you from the clutches of the devil. When we are baptized there is something radical that is taking place. You are not just getting wet – you are dying and being raised. You have left one kingdom and entered into another. If you are not of Christ, if you are of the world – realize where you really dwell because you have yet to be rescued from Satan’s house
The Way of the World:
The world wants us to think it is a viable alternative to the kingdom of God. It repackages and readvertises death to look like life. Rename death choice. The needy? Taxes will take care of that. It wants to redefine marriage, destroy the family and wants us to think somehow all that is good and right and the way things are supposed to be. Proverbs 14:12 says there is a way that seems right but leads to death.
Freedom in Christ:
The question for us is this – If the Son of God came to this world and disarmed all the powers of darkness, opened up the prisons, plundered the strong man’s house and set us free…Why do we let the world drag us around? Why do we let created things shout louder than the creator, the storms louder than him, the sickness louder than him…? Why do we step back through the broken bars and act as if we are locked in prison again? Don’t we understand that in Christ we have freedom?
People were so used to leashes that when someone came to liberate them they decided it would be better to nail that man to a cross and release a known criminal in his place. Jesus didn’t meet their expectations of who the messiah was supposed to be and because their minds were wrapped up so tightly in worldly messages of selfishness and their own agendas they put him to death. The picture Jesus gives of the kingdom of God breaking in is Satan tied up struggling on the floor while Jesus marches captives right out the front door of his house. The message of the gospel is – You – Are – Free. You don’t have to live like that any more! You have a new house and a new Lord and a better way to live. The world will not understand that but we do.
What is the kingdom of God all about? What happens when it breaks in? Things get turned upside down and the powers that be are subdued and even commanded to obey. Notice what happens at the end of the day (Phil 2:10-11) – every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus as Lord. The final sign of the kingdom is found at the cross and the empty tomb. The cross shows the price. The tomb shows the victory. The kingdom is fulfilled in the promise to us that we too will be raised.
How do we practically live in the kingdom today? When we face challenges we remember that he is the one with the power and authority to fix it. When we face storms, health issues, sin, and even death we turn to him because he is the one who has authority to make good from bad and righteous from unrighteous. Whose kingdom are you a part of? That is no small question. That question is not answered by how many times you come to church or whether you do more good things than bad things. That question is answered by asking yourself this – who is your lord? Who calls the shots? Who has sway over your life, influences your decisions more…the kingdom of the world or the kingdom of God? It is either or and not both and.