The Kingdom of God is the Central Theme of Jesus’ teaching.
Both Matthew and Mark place the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry after Jesus had been baptized (Matt 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11), faced the testing and trial of Satan in the Wilderness (Matt 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13), and the imprisonment of John the Baptizer (Matt 4:12, Mark 1:14). Immediately, Jesus begins to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God –
- Matt 4:17 – “From that time [after John was imprisoned] Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Mark 1:14-15 – “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
These Scriptures show the close connection between the Kingdom of God and the Gospel. They illustrate that from the beginning, the gospel message always has been that those who repent of sin and have faith in Christ enter the Kingdom of God.
The bookends of Jesus’ ministry before he commissioned and sent out the twelve are Matthew 4:23 (the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry) and Matthew 9:35 (before He sent out the twelve).
- Matt 4:23 – “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”
- Matt 9:35 – “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
Much of Jesus’ teaching centered on the Kingdom of God: Sermon on the Mount (e.g. Matt 5:3,10), Parables (Matt 13), private teaching with the disciples (Matt 18). In Mark 10 (see vss 17-31), Jesus explicitly ties the concept of eternal life with entering the Kingdom of God:
…there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? …[after the rich man turned away from Jesus because he was not willing to depart from his riches] Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
This passage again ties together eternal life, the Kingdom of God, and salvation.
In future posts, I plan to look at what the Kingdom of God is and some specific aspects of it in our Saviour’s teaching.