John the Baptist, after his arrest and imprisonment, sends out a question to Jesus, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). What a striking question coming from the one who called Jesus the Lamb of God, Who would take away the sins of the world. It would seem that John thought that the public career of Jesus did not correspond to his idea of Messiah. John knew that one day Messiah would put down all oppression and deliver Israel into an eternal kingdom. Jesus answers by telling John through his disciples that He has been acting like Messiah, with compassionate miracles revealed to the nation of Israel.
So, how are we to understand Jesus, Who launched His public ministry with the cry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”? Was Jesus not bringing a complete eternal kingdom with His first coming? We must understand the work of Messiah in both His first and second comings as He brings the kingdom in it’s totality. In this first coming, Christ will conquer sin, and the penalty of sin for the world through the Cross. Since Scripture makes specific promises to the nation Israel that are obviously not fulfilled in Christ’s first coming, many promises to Israel will be fulfilled in that 2nd coming, launching a millennial reign (Revelation 20) and then bringing a new Heaven and new earth.
So, in this church age, what is “at hand” for us? First, our salvation. Jesus’ public ministry to both Jew and Gentile, and His offer of righteousness through His atoning sacrifice for sin, confront us with the need to receive Messiah, and be rescued from both the curse and consequences of our sins. Second, it means that we may experience the rule of Christ even now in our hearts. A physical, literal, eternal kingdom on earth we are not yet, but we have been eternally secured by King Jesus. This is why Paul says in Colossians 1:13- “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” So, embrace your King now. Set your heart and your mind upon things above, where Christ is seated, in heavenly places! A kingdom is coming, not only for Israel, but for all who embrace God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Third, be reminded that eternal destinies are at hand right now. We note daily in our news that sins are found out, that sins have consequences, and that sins show the wickedness of man’s heart. Messiah must come to hearts! Embrace Messiah, King Jesus in your own heart. Offer King Jesus to others. Hope in King Jesus’ return to establish His kingdom forever.
Prayer- “Lord God, we sometimes become frustrated living for our King while striving with sin in this broken world. We recognize we belong to you, but we also long for the ultimate Day of the Lord, when sin is removed, and we can worship in the very presence of our King. Father, by Your Spirit, empower us to live as true children of God, ambassadors of the Almighty, assisting with the coming kingdom by obediently sharing Christ in our personal worlds. Burden us for people who have not yet been delivered from the domain of darkness, and give us words of liberty to share. In Jesus Name, Amen.”