14 ¶ Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
Let’s look first at the phrase, “The time is fulfilled.” This statement is somewhat misleading. The word “fulfilled” is past tense, implying it has already taken place. The Greek word for fulfilled is pleroo. It more accurately means the time or season has come to the full. In other words, it is happening. It is a present manifestation, not a past one. It is difficult for Christians to grasp this truth. Everything tends to be put in the past or future. The soulish realm of religion is two dimensional. It cannot grasp the reality of the “now realm” of the spirit. Jesus came forth in the fullness of times preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand. His kingdom was proclaimed at the beginning of His earthly ministry.
No less than four times is the phrase, Gospel of the Kingdom, used by Jesus. Let’s read the passages.
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Now, what is this gospel of the kingdom? The gospel preached in Christianity is salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This was the message proclaimed by Peter on the day of Pentecost. But Jesus had not yet been crucified when He preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He was not proclaiming His mission of dying on the cross for us. So, what was the gospel He was preaching? There is no kingdom without a king. The gospel of the kingdom is the proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is not a doctrine, but a spiritual realm. Jesus stated in John 18 that His kingdom was not of this earthly realm. The kingdom of heaven is an order, a divine order, with Christ as its head. Jesus told many parables likening the kingdom of heaven to various scenarios. Mathew 13 is known as the chapter of the parables of the kingdom. In each of those parables, such as the wheat and the tares and the pearl of great price, we see the kingdom of heaven as a realm in which a plumb line is laid. Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed as Lord. Ironically, Christianity while attesting to this truth, does not walk in it. Christianity is like the early Pharisees who preached and taught doctrines that they themselves did not live.
1 ¶ Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,
2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
The gospel of the kingdom must be proclaimed at the summation of one age and the beginning of another. Just as Jesus came forth in the fullness of times, He is coming forth again in a unique way in this hour. We are again in a season of pleroo, a time of things coming to the full. The gospel of the kingdom must be preached before the new age before us is firmly established. It is a time of the powers of the heavens being shaken.
29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
The above passages are subject to interpretation according to what level a person is living on. We all see according to the level we have attained in God. But there is one interpretation that is sure and steadfast. The manifestation of Jesus Christ is aligned with the heavens being shaken. There cannot be one without the other. We are in transition. Christ is not coming to be crucified afresh. He is coming as Lord of lords and King of kings. His Lordship is being established first in a people, and then through a people. At Jesus’ first coming He was missed by all but a few. Everyone was looking in the wrong place for their Messiah. The Jews were looking for a man to come and release them from the bondage of Rome. Even the disciples asked Jesus about this. “So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
The proclamation of Jesus as Lord begins in us. The power and authority of the gospel of the kingdom will only be manifested through those who are actually walking in it. In Acts 1 after the disciples asked Jesus if He was restoring the kingdom to Israel, Jesus told them it was not for them to know times or epochs which the Father had fixed by His own authority. He then told them they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them and that they would be His witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. They went forth in power and authority because they walked in the word He spoke to them.
We are not revisiting Pentecost today. Pentecost opened the church age, which has been the current manifestation of the kingdom of God. The gospel of the Kingdom heralds His current manifestation in and through a people. It is a higher realm of the kingdom of God that is opening. It is a realm where the Lordship of Jesus Christ is absolute. It is the rule of the rod of iron. It is the realm where every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Only those partaking of this gospel shall proclaim it. There is an entire shift of focus in this gospel of the kingdom. The shift is from a self-awareness to a Christ awareness. The gospel of the kingdom is not about us, per se, it’s about Him. We are leaving behind “our” individual relationship with God, and entering into a collective relationship with God through the body of Christ. 2nd Thess. 1 speaks of Jesus Christ coming to be glorified in His saints. How is this accomplished on a practical level? It occurs through our submission to Him as Lord. This coming of the Lord in His saints cannot occur except through the laying down of the self-life. Individuality must be crucified to embrace the collective manifestation of the Lord Jesus.
Ironically, this gospel of the kingdom is preached predominately to God’s own people. Let’s read from the first chapter of John.
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Jesus was not received by His own at His first coming. These verses plainly tell us His first mission was to His own. Let’s read from Mat. 10.
5 ¶ These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans;
6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
The pattern is the same at the end of the age just as it was at the beginning. Christ’s Lordship is to be proclaimed among His people. Many will not accept this gospel. It is according to the parable Jesus told in Luke 19.
11 ¶ While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.
12 So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.
13 “And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’
14 “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
15 “When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done.
16 “The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’
17 “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’
18 “The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’
19 “And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’
20 “Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief;
21 for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’
22 “He *said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow?
23 ‘Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’
24 “Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’
25 “And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’
26 “I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
27 “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”
After reading this parable the first thing out of the mouth is usually, “Hey, this is not me, I don’t hate the Lord. I am not His enemy.” But the fact is, the Adamic nature does hate Christ’s Lordship. Adam does not want to die. Many, many Christians rejoice in the blessings of Christ without ever really submitting to Him as Lord. The above parable is very mystical. It goes to the root of that which opposes His kingship, and this root is in each of us until it is thoroughly crucified. We are either coming under His Lordship or moving away from it. There is no in-between anymore. Dying to self is not easy, but His grace is more than sufficient to help us if we are willing. It’s important to know which way we are moving. Are we fighting His Lordship as its manifested in His body, or are we submitting to it? This is a question each of us must answer for ourselves.
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” His Lordship is to be proclaimed. We should be eager to be those channels that herald it.