Israel had long anticipated the coming of Messiah and when he did arrive most missed it. As far back as the Garden of Eden God promised one who would crush the head of the serpent. In the time of Moses the promise was there would be one like him to rise up from among the people. When you think of a serpent stomper or a Moses type you think of someone with a strong personality, possibly a military leader; someone to free them from the oppressive Roman government.
Most know the story about John the Baptist leading the way by preaching “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He announced Jesus as the Messiah, the one they were all waiting for.
As the story progresses John ends up in prison and Jesus begins his ministry preaching “Repent, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” It seems he picked right up where John had left off. Recently I thought maybe he proclaimed repentance because he knew what type of Messiah the people were looking for and their idea wasn’t quite accurate. He wanted them to see him for who he was and that was going to require them to have a change of mind.
In the gospel of Matthew we find what is commonly called “the Sermon on the Mount.” This is where Jesus lays out the whole message of how this kingdom works. He takes us through a series of statements that sound irrational on the surface. Think how this must have sounded to the original audience. Jesus declared “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” What is he saying? How can he stand there and tell me I’m blessed if I’m poor in spirit and mourning? He goes on to say, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
It seems having your mind changed is crucial to the whole idea of what it means to be in the kingdom. The religious leaders thought being godly meant giving tithes, not eating certain foods, not working on the Sabbath, being circumcised etc. As if we could climb a religious ladder to arrive at godliness. Jesus, on the other hand, taught it is only them that see their need that can be filled. As long as we think we’re doing pretty well we’re deceived, because the truth is God’s power is perfected in weakness. If we are a cup that is already full we are unable to receive what God has for us. So the truth is we have to be emptied of our self sufficiency.
This Kingdom Jesus came to reveal works quite differently than the one in which the world lives. God’s Kingdom says, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Jesus said, “The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, but anyone that wants to be leader in my Kingdom will be the servant of all.” Some might say God’s Kingdom is upside down, but the reality is his is right side up and the world’s is the one that is upside down. His kingdom isn’t run from the top down but rather the bottom up. Paul said, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” This is of course so no one will ever get the wrong idea that they are the ones that made this possible. If anyone is going to brag they are going to brag about knowing God not about how great, smart or mighty they are. Jesus even said of his self “I am meek and lowly of heart”, and we are told to learn of him.
Written by Louie