Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Christians call today Good Friday because on this day almost 2,000 years ago Jesus died on a cross in full payment for all the sins of all people for all time. (1 John 2:2) But it would not be Good Friday unless followed on Sunday by Resurrection Day! Jesus conquered death and is alive forever! Hallelujah! (Revelation 1:17-18)
All four of the Gospels provide vivid descriptions of the crucifixion and resurrection, but I have chosen for this column the summary of both given by Paul to the Philippians. This concise passage provides a contrast we must understand between the humility of Jesus as the Lamb of God and the exaltation of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (John 1:29; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14, 19:6)
The resurrection of Jesus gloriously demonstrates His victory over death for Himself and all who put their trust in Him. (Romans 6:3-5) But we cannot let our understanding stop there. We must embrace how the resurrection of Jesus proclaims His Kingdom in heaven and on earth. The gospel is not simply a gospel of salvation. It is the gospel of the Kingdom.
From the outset of His ministry on earth, Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom. (Matthew 4:23, 9:35) He sent forth His disciples, and later Paul, to do the same. (Matthew 10:7; Acts 28:23, 31) Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus declared the end of the age would not come until this gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed throughout the world. (Matthew 24:14)
After His resurrection, Jesus remained on earth forty days before ascending to heaven so that He could teach His disciples even more about the Kingdom. (Acts 1:3) And just before His ascension, Jesus boldly proclaimed His Kingdom with these words:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Kingdom of God is the loving, wise, benevolent rule of God over those who love, trust, and obey Him. God created both heaven and earth as expressions of this Kingdom, but as we all know, mankind sinned and earth came under the dominion of darkness. (Genesis 3; Colossians 1:13; 1 John 5:19)
Heaven is the unimaginably wonderful place it is because it remains a perfect expression of the Kingdom of God. (Luke 23:43; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 21) God’s goal is to destroy the works of the devil and restore His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. (1 John 3:8; Matthew 6:9-10; Colossians 1:15-23) Put otherwise, God’s response to insurrection is the resurrection, through which the Son of Man became King of earth as well as heaven, disarming the enemy and taking possession of the keys of death and Hades. (Colossians 2:15; Revelation 1:18; Matthew 25:31-34)
Because it is the gospel of the Kingdom, you cannot have forgiveness without repentance – a change of mind, heart, and life direction. (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 2 Peter 3:9) Our King calls for disciples who seek to learn and obey His commandments because the faith that embraces the grace gift of salvation must be a sincere decision to trust and follow Him. (Mark 8:34-38; Matthew 7:21-27; 1 John 2:1-6, 3:4-6)
As we gather this Sunday to proclaim – “He is risen!” – I pray we will all remember who our risen Savior is. Every born-again Christian has received God’s Holy Spirit so we can be divinely enabled to love, trust, and obey the Lord. (1 Corinthians 12:3; John 14:15-23) As we do so, we reveal the Kingdom of God to the lost people of this broken world, and He has promised we will experience both the joy of the Lord and His peace. (1 Peter 2:9; Romans 14:17; Nehemiah 8:10; John 14:27)
God bless you, and God bless our community.