Jesus came on the scene proclaiming the arrival of the Kingdom of God! To the disappointment of many, it was not an outward kingdom that would manifest itself with the overthrow of nations and governments. It would not force everyone to live godly, nor would it impose punishment on the wicked. There was nothing about his Kingdom that fit into the anticipation of the religious mind. According to Jesus, the Kingdom of God was “within.” Instead of a geographic location that could be ruled by power and might, it was a realm that could be entered by faith. This realm could be accessed by any person, anywhere in the world, any time, regardless of external circumstances. No longer would people go to Jerusalem, a temple or another Holy location.
This new Kingdom is an issue of the heart! The idea of a centralized power controlled by the edicts of leaders was non-applicable. People would weave in and out of this Kingdom based on the values and beliefs that guided their decisions. Those who trusted God’s word and applied those values to their decision making process would experience the Kingdom with all its benefits. Those who did not, regardless of how good they were, would not experience the Kingdom of God with all its benefits.
The message of the Kingdom was an intellectual struggle for everyone, the least of which were no doubt the apostles who were being discipled to live, preach and model this Kingdom reality. Nothing about it worked like other Kingdoms. The King was open to the common people. There was no hierarchy of power. There wasn’t a lot of “pomp and circumstance.” There were no political agendas. It took a total shift in thinking to understand how to lead in this new Kingdom. But this belief system would give access to all the promises of God!
Contrary to the way other kings built their kingdoms; Jesus invited sinners, tax collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles and enemies of Israel to join Him in the Kingdom of His Father. When they followed Him, in pursuit of this Kingdom, He taught parables, worked miracles, expressed mercy, and stilled the guilty conscience. Many had a heart to hear, believed God and entered in. Others walked away disillusioned and disappointed. His idea of the Kingdom did not fit what they were looking for. When speaking to those who assumed they would be first in line for this new Kingdom and all its benefits, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the Kingdom of God before you” (Matt. 21:31-32). Or, as He so often said, the last shall be first. To enter in, one simply had to have hearing ears — ears that listen with a heart of faith, instead of a critical intellect. Thousands of people came close to the Kingdom of God, walked away empty, and never had a hint of what they had missed, or how close they were! Read Entire Article