I know that we have been conditioned to think in a shallower way about the work of the cross – that Jesus willingly sacrificing Himself on the cross is about our personal salvation – our, “ticket into heaven,” and indeed it is about being saved from the power of sin and death; but at the same time, we are adopted into the family of God and brought in from the dark – into the kingdom of heaven.
The kingdom of heaven – you will also hear, the kingdom of God – is more complex in its nature than we may think. The kingdom has existed from creation, but at the same time has been prophesied to exist in the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. At the same time, followers of the Christ live in the kingdom of heaven on earth now – as we wait for the second coming of Jesus and the fruition of all that has been promised. The kingdom is often described, and it is a succinct way of thinking about it, as both existing and becoming simultaneously.
The Good News is that we are saved by Christ and adopted into the kingdom – the unseen yet very real kingdom of heaven on earth while simultaneously holding onto the hope that is imparted to the believer through the promises of the new heaven and the new earth where the physical and the spiritual will exist in perfect harmony.
1When Jesus had finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he went out to teach and preach in towns throughout the region.
2John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3“Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting,a or should we keep looking for someone else?”
4Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” 6And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.b”
7As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. 9Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,
‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way before you.’c
11“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing,d and violent people are attacking it. 13For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come.e 15Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
16“To what can I compare this generation? It is like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
17‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t mourn.’
18For John didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ 19The Son of Man,f on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
This little passage from Matthew chapter 11 (verses 1-19) talks about how the prophets foretold the coming of Jesus and thus the coming of the kingdom. Jesus, as usual, does not mince His words when discussing the nature of the kingdom and how it is under constant attack. He then goes on to expressly speak on what we expressly speak on every Sunday – that as an individual, you will have to decide in which kingdom you will live.
Will you live as an adopted son or daughter of the Most High and submit to the authority of God the Father through Jesus Christ the son? Or will you give yourself over to the kingdoms created by the minds of men and submit to the authority of the father of all lies?