Heal the sick, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you now.’ . . .
And know this—the Kingdom of God is near!’Luke 10:9, 11
What an interesting statement for Jesus to make. The Kingdom of God is near you. It is now! What does that mean? Bear in mind most Jews were waiting for the ushering in of the Kingdom. According to the expectation, Messiah would come and bring in the Kingdom of God. For many Jews that meant the overthrow of Roman rule and the beginning of a time when the Jews would administer their own affairs. It also had the idea of the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel as it was in the days of David and Solomon. When the Kingdom was at its peak and included the fullest extent of its territory. This concept is evidently behind the comments by the disciples in Acts 1:6 where in response to Jesus talking to them about the Kingdom (Acts 1:3), they ask, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” It is clear the disciples are thinking along the lines of a physical, political entity, a nation state of the kind David and Solomon ruled over. The kingdom they want restored is that kind of “nation state”. Remember there were zealots among the band of disciples who were intent on bringing in the kingdom and over-throwing Roman rule.
Associated with the notions of this kind of kingdom, was the desire to achieve complete peace. How is that peace is achieved? Well we had peace during David’s time when all our enemies were conquered. Therefore peace is the absence of war. So the peace that Jesus is talking about must be about this kind of peace. The peace achieved when our political kingdom has been established and we are at peace without the need to defend ourselves and go to war. So let’s ask some simple questions then.
- When Jesus spoke of the “Kingdom” being “near” and “now” what did He mean?
- Was He talking about the same entity they were expecting?
- Were their expectations met in the context of Christ’s comments?
Note the number of times in the gospels the idea of kingdom being near, now, already come is mentioned.
- Matt – 3:2, 4:17
- Mark 1:15
Luke 10:9, 10:11,
- Matt 12:28,
- Luke 11:20
- Luke 17:21
And also the number of times Jesus tells his listeners that there are some who won’t die before they see the kingdom come as we have already looked at when we looked at Luke 9:27 (see Gems 909 to 911)
What is going on here? What is Jesus talking about ? Why is it so confusing? It seems to be “already come”, “now here” and “still to come”. It is all of those things. How can that be? Jesus tells “the twelve” that they are privy (have the inside track) to the secrets of kingdom. It is given to you to know the secrets of the kingdom. (Luke 8:10) If you too are a disciple, you too are included among those who know the secrets of the Kingdom. Do you know the secrets of the Kingdom?
Luke hasn’t told us all the secrets of the Kingdom. It is something that gradually unfolds through his Gospel. There are some keys that I have held back from you. Why, because I am mean and nasty and want to keep the secrets to myself? No, because Luke and more importantly Jesus reveal the secret of the Kingdom piece by piece. Or should I say “peace by peace”? I will leave the unfolding revelation to you as you discover it piece by piece (and peace by peace) as we move through Luke.
- Did Jesus mean the kingdom they sought had now come and He had come to bring it in?
- Was it indeed already imminent?
- On the verge of being established?
- Was it now realized or merely anticipated?
- Was it now or for some future time frame?
- How was Jesus using this idea of the “kingdom being now” when He made these comments?
- How does Luke use the idea and expand the notion of it in his gospel?
- How can the kingdom be perceived to be near and now in the context we are reading about in Luke 10 ?
- And if that is indeed the case then to what extent can we expect anything more than what we have already?
- Have we seen all of the Kingdom that we are going to see and experience here on earth already?
- Before we see the millennium brought in under Christ reign on earth which is still to come isn’t it?
Oh Ian all of this confuses me. Yes it confused the disciples all the way through to Acts 1:6.
And I am not going to be much help to you at the moment. I am going to leave you in the tension between the Kingdom is here and now and the Kingdom is not yet. Why would I do that to you? Because that is what Luke does to us in his gospel and that is what Jesus does to us too. I am just simply continuing the story.
But I will say this: if you grapple with it and seek to solve the problem of the tension between the “kingdom is now” and “the kingdom is to come” you are in for a major blessing of understanding the secret of the kingdom viz Luke 8:10. But even more than that you will be on the verge of knowing it experientially.
I won’t be telling you the answers in the next Gem in this instance either. Luke takes a while to develop the idea. That is because Jesus takes some time to develop the idea too. But of course if you are really wanting to know, there is nothing stopping you going to the back of the book to read the punchline or to find out “who done it”. Well maybe in this case “who received it” and how?
If God TODAY answered every prayer you prayed LAST WEEK, would there be anyone new in the kingdom of God?Lee Strobel
Christ’s Kingdom is extended ONLY THRU HIS CHURCH-the only org he gave his authority & keys of the kingdom to!Rick Warren
Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present (or your future).Regina Brett
Is your peace past, present or future?Ian Vail
Peace doesn’t come from finding a lake with no storms. It comes from having Jesus in the boat.John Ortberg
No God, No Peace. Know God, Know Peace.Anon