For the last while, we have been going through a series on the Kingdom as a church.
As we’ve been discussing, we know Jesus came to announce that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that this Kingdom was at the centre of His ministry – everything He said flowed from this purpose: He was bringing the Kingdom of God. But Jesus spoke about the Kingdom in two ways, He preached: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” in the present tense, yet also spoke of the coming Kingdom. In Luke 22:18, Jesus says: “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the Kingdom of God comes.”
I want to take a moment to talk about this “already, not-yet” aspect of the Kingdom.
Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of God has simultaneously arrived and will come at the same time! This is the paradox that is the already, not-yet Kingdom, and there is a dynamic tension that exists between the now and the not-yet. This is because, through Jesus, God inaugurated His Kingdom on earth but would consummate it in the future. The apostle Paul understood this dynamic tension because he said we are already saved in Christ (Ephesians 2:8), but not yet saved (Romans 5:9); already raised with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), but not-yet raised (1 Corinthians 15:52).
We know that Jesus will return and establish His Kingdom in the future, but what does the Kingdom mean now? Wherever Jesus preached, He proclaimed the good news of the gospel that the Kingdom of God is at hand and then demonstrated this reality through the signs and wonders that He performed. Lepers were cleansed, blind were given sight, hard-hearted Pharisees were rebuked, sinners were shown grace and mercy. Luke 11:20 emphasizes this point, saying: “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” Through acts of healing the sick, casting out demons, showing mercy, forgiving sins, and delivering the oppressed, He was ushering in the reign of the future Kingdom of God into the present.
Amazingly, Jesus then commissioned the 72 to go and do the same! Luke 9:2 says, “He sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to perform healing”. The disciples were sent out to proclaim the gospel, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, perform the same works as Jesus did, extending the Kingdom of God into people’s lives. Even more incredible is that Jesus never intended that signs and wonders should cease with Himself or His disciples.
We get to participate in advancing the Kingdom, and each miracle and act of mercy is pointing to the time when God’s future Kingdom will be established in its fullness. Hallelujah!