The vast majority of New Testament scholars today, whether evangelical or liberal, agree that the central aspect of Jesus’ teaching was the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Jesus preached that all of creation would be restored. A central part of that restoration was Jesus’ death on the cross, but that isn’t the end of the story. The story ends when Jesus returns to fully bring in his Kingdom and restore the fullness of creation in all its entirety.
The arrival of God’s Kingdom is the major news of the gospel - and repentance is a necessary consequence of that. Jesus preached the necessity of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in light of the fact that God’s kingdom had arrived. God’s will is the restoration of the earth and the return of righteousness, peace and justice; that is the Kingdom of God, that is His manifest will, and that is the gospel. It is the work Jesus began, the work he will finish, but also the work we are invited to be a part of.
In the sermon on the mount, Jesus isn’t just talking about how we should behave as ‘good Christians’. He is talking about the ethical and moral aspects of the new kingdom that he is bringing Jesus says in his kingdom, asserting your rule and reign over someone is to serve them and seek their best interest, even at the expense of your own - upending our views of power, value and significance.
We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), the Spirit of God lives in us (1 John 3:24) and we are seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:6-16), becoming like Christ (Ephesians 4:15), until we have our resurrection bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58) finally making us like Him (1 John 4:17) as we see Him fully (1 John 3:2). We, and therefore our lives, cannot be separated from God (Romans 8:38-39).
During the sermon on the mount Jesus teaches on the spiritual disciplines of giving, prayer and fasting. All three are connected - fasting increases our awareness of our need for God, so we pray, and God makes us aware of the needs of others, so we give. Jesus communicates as if he expects these to be the practices of the day: when you give, when you pray, when you fast. What Jesus is really asking when we engage in these disciplines is this: is your heart desiring the kingdom?
“Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus is teaching us to pursue the Kingdom - the Kingdom being the rule and reign of God in our lives. When God's rule and reign is present in our lives, then it flows out of our lives into every sphere that we come into contact with: our relationships, our friendships, our workplaces, our places of study, our natural families and our church family.
There are eight parables recorded in this chapter, which are designed to represent the Kingdom of Heaven, the method of planting the gospel kingdom in the world, and of its growth and success. Jesus spoke parables that explained the Kingdom, and performed miracles that demonstrated the Kingdom.
Matthew 4:21-22, Matthew 8:18-22, Matthew 20:20-28
f you’re moved by what you've seen of Jesus, if you’re amazed by the Kingdom, then there’s a cost to living in this kind of blessing. There is a reality to the cost of following Jesus. Equally there is a sacrifice in the way Jesus paid the ultimate cost on the cross. The cross is the culmination of all the empire of darkness had to offer, where all the wrath of the world was poured out on God. It is on the cross that we can see the ultimate power standoff. On the cross we see what love looks like when it stares evil in the face.
In Roman adoption, the adopted son inherits everything from the Father as if he was his birth son. We receive the Kingdom of God. Name, resource, authority, realm. Being born again redefines family; it grants a new way to see the world, a way to see right past the artificial borders we create and proclaim a deeper allegiance and affection. When Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world, he is speaking more of essence than location. His Kingdom is not of this world because it refuses power, pledges a different allegiance, and lives love.
“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’ “Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
"I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea. I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband. I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”