Friday, October 14, 2016

The kingdom within


"Christ Enthroned" - Master of the Ingeborg Psalter
(France, 1195-1210) from the Getty Trust. 
Used with Permission.


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 17:20-37

TO CHEW ON:
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, 'The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, "See here!" or "See there!" For indeed the kingdom of God is within you.'"  Luke 20:20,21NKJV

"'For behold, the kingdom of God is within you (in your hearts) and among you (surrounding you).'" Luke 20:21 Amplified


The Pharisees are expecting and looking for an external, visible, physical kingdom. But Jesus tells them that the kingdom of God is not that at all. Rather it's "within you" and "among you."

One of the ways we understand the "among you" part is that Jesus Himself brings that kingdom. Note how, early in His ministry, He claims Himself the kingdom-bringer when He reads from the Isaiah scroll in His hometown synagogue. After reading these words:  "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me / Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor… etc." (Luke 4:18,19), He says, "'Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.'" His hearers understand these Isaiah prophecies to refer to Messiah and His reign.

Clues to how the kingdom of God is "within" us are scattered throughout the New Testament.
  • Jesus tells Nicodemus he can't enter the kingdom without being born again - John 3:3.
  • Jesus says of the "poor in spirit" and the "persecuted" that "theirs is the kingdom of heaven" - Matthew 5:3,10.
  • Persecution and suffering are also linked with the kingdom of God in Acts 14:22 and 2 Thessalonians 1:5.
  • Those who have looked after the needy and homeless "inherit" the kingdom - Matthew 25:34,35.
  • Perseverance proves us fit for the kingdom - Luke 9:62.

Jack Hayford in an article commenting on this passage explains how Jesus' kingdom anointing becomes ours:

"Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to cause the anointing of His messiahship to be transmitted to us (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:18; John 1:16; 1 John 2:20,27; 4:17). So it is, and on these terms only, that a human being can say 'The kingdom of God is within me'" - Jack Hayford, "The Kingdom Within You," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1423 (emphasis added).

I ask myself, is my heart the kingdom of God, and not of me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)? Are there evidences of the kingdom of God in my life—the humility, the willingness to be persecuted and suffer,  the concern for the down-and-out, the perseverance, to name a few? Can Jesus' words, "'The kingdom of God is within you'" truly be said of me? Of you?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I want Your kingdom to have full sway in my life. Please show me where I have left myself on my life's throne. Help me dethrone self and put You there. Amen.

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New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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2 comments:

  1. Indeed in John 3 Jesus goes on to describe being "born again" as being born from above, born of the Spirit. No one enters Jesus' kingdom apart from this regeneration from the Spirit. So in Mt. 5:3 Jesus' first beatitude about the poor in spirit could be translated, blessed are the poor in the Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. It is the Spirit descending from heaven that anoints Jesus as the new king in Mt. 3, and this Spirit then leads Jesus into the wilderness to suffer hunger and temptations. All of this combines your kingdom characteristics, including perseverance and suffering. In Mt. 4 Jesus has called disciples to leave their prospering fishing businesses and follow this poor, lowly Messiah (king), who is in the Spirit.

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  2. Thanks for your comment, Jesusandthebible! Great points. Isn't it amazing and beautiful how these ideas are woven into so many passages of the Bible even though penned by different writers--another testimony to its divine authorship.

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