by Pastor Joe Pullen
Now after John had been arrested, Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
MARK 1:14-15, ESV
When Jesus first spoke publicly about the gospel, He didn’t mention Himself at all even though He is the central figure of it. Isn’t that curious? Instead He spoke about a time, or a period of waiting, that had come to an end, and how the kingdom of God had arrived. Let’s take a look at what He meant with this statement, because it has direct implications on how we should respond to Jesus and live our lives — and the rest of the gospel story builds on this earth-shaking statement.
Jesus said the time is fulfilled. Jesus taught here that the gospel is far, far more than God’s plan of salvation. The gospel is what God did ‘In the beginning” in Genesis, all the way to last word of Scripture (“Amen” in Revelation), and everything in between. Genesis marked the first time the natural world revealed the God of the supernatural, and Revelation is “The revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). It’s all the gospel.
Why does this matter? When sin entered the world in Genesis 3, the domain of the created world transferred from being gifted to men and women to rule and subdue it, to being ruled and subdued by Satan and evil. But God the Father promised that a day would come when a Child of Eve would bruise Satan’s head and Satan would only be able to strike a temporary blow to the Child (Gen. 3:15). That day didn’t happen immediately, and for thousands of years, Satan had a field day with man – killing, stealing, and destroying.
All that changed when Jesus said the time is fulfilled. He announced the beginning of the end of Satan’s reign of terror, and the dawn of the age of salvation when the enemy would be rendered impotent. I envision a cosmic gasp across the kingdom of darkness when Jesus spoke those words.
This was the time all the prophets wrote about. This was the time all the priestly rituals pointed towards, and now that time was fulfilled: Jesus had arrived.
With the time of waiting fulfilled, a second tectonic shift occurred – Jesus said the kingdom of God was at hand. I love this profound statement. All the power of heaven, with the absolute rule and reign of God, had descended to earth, meaning the earth was returning to be like heaven as it was always intended to be. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” so it might change the way we think of our lives and how we live them as citizens in His kingdom.
For a kingdom to exist, it must be composed of certain elements or it isn’t a kingdom at all. A kingdom must have:
1. A Domain. You can’t have a kingdom if there is no realm over which that king reigns.
2. A King. A kingdom with no king isn’t a kingdom. It’s another form of government or just open territory with no one in charge.
3. Authority. A king without total authority isn’t a king. He must be the total authority of his kingdom or it means someone else exists in the domain with greater power.
4. Subjects. If there is a king, with a domain, and authority over that domain, he must also have subjects. Without subjects, the king is merely a property owner. Residents of a kingdom who don’t submit to the king or his authority would be rebels. The king either must convert rebels into obedient subjects or expel them from His domain in order to be a king in full authority.
With that in mind, think of the depth of what it meant for Jesus to say the kingdom of God was at hand. It meant heaven and earth are the domain of God’s Kingdom, that Jesus is the Father’s king of that domain, Jesus has all authority over it, and we are invited to be His obedient subjects. Since Jesus announced the arrival of a new kingdom in the presence of the old one, He was simultaneously invalidating the rule and reign of the enemy. Hallelujah!
So if we belong to Jesus as a citizen of His kingdom, we are under the protection of a loving King who has all power and authority over everything that happens in heaven and on earth around us. We can wake up tomorrow and face any challenge by praying:
God, whatever happens today is either the unfolding rule and reign of Your will on earth or the last-ditch efforts of a defeated foe trying to thwart the unstoppable. Though I may be defeated in a battle or two along the way, the war is already won. Help me to live in that reality and shift my eyes from my concerns to the will of your advancing, unstoppable Kingdom. In Christ’s name, Amen.