The most significant part of Jesus’ teaching was that God was initiating a Kingdom. It was not a geographical place (so it would not be brought about by war against the Romans who occupied his country). And it was not a particular people (so no religious group could claim the title). Instead, it was the place where God is accepted as King and his rule for the world is willingly obeyed.
Jesus resisted defining the Kingdom and instead told memorable stories (parables). He asked those who listened to work out what it meant to have God as King:
- It is like a man stumbling on a treasure that is so precious that it is worth forsaking everything else in order to own it.
- It is like a tiny seed which has the potential to grow into a tree in which birds find protection and nourishment.
- It is like a vulnerable woman who refuses to give up her quest for the justice that is rightfully hers until she achieves it by sheer persistence.
- It is like a party invitation that has been snubbed by the rich and famous, so the poor and despised enjoy the feast instead.
In this Kingdom people would do what is good not because they are afraid of what would happen if they didn’t, but because they are motivated by wanting the best. ‘A new command I give you,’ Jesus told his followers. ‘Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ God is not merely asking for a change of behaviour; he is asking for a change of heart and mind.
What the Bible says about it
An extract from the Bible:
Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’
Where to find it:
About these words:
Very close the beginning of his gospel, the first of the four in the Bible to be written, Mark sums up the whole of Jesus’ teaching in three soundbites.
And they said…
Susan Boyle, singer:
I wouldn’t be where I am without my faith. Religion is my backbone and what gets me up in the morning.
William Temple, 1881–1944, Archbishop of Canterbury:
Power in complete subordination to love – that is something like a definition of the Kingdom of God.
François Fénelon, 1651 – 1715, French theologian:
To want all that God wants, always to want it, for all occasions and without reservations, this is the kingdom of God which is all within.
William Law, 1686 – 1761, English clergyman:
If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen instead.