Words of Faith 11-8-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation,  nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
We are not exactly sure when this next teaching happened. Luke introduces it with a nonspecific time reference, but it may have been soon after the healing of the ten lepers. Some Pharisees asked Jesus about the Kingdom of God. It may have had something to do with the fact that Jesus just sent nine lepers to the leper checker in Jerusalem. Word gets around when you heal ten people.
Apparently there were some Pharisees who were genuinely interested in the truth. Among these may have been Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. These Pharisees asked when the Kingdom of God would come. But Jesus basically pointed out that they were asking the wrong question.
The first question regarding the Kingdom of God is not when but where. These folks were quite certain that they knew what the Kingdom of God would be like and they just wanted to know when it would be manifest. Jesus had a big truth in mind for them.
There was a belief among the Pharisees that there would be certain signs indicating that Messiah and the Kingdom had arrived. These signs would be cosmic and celestial events. But Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
The general belief in Judaism in the time of Jesus was that God would establish an earthly Kingdom by military conquest. This was why many were disappointed in Jesus. The idea of a suffering Messiah was not popular. A triumphant Messiah had so much more crowd appeal. But Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom of God is not something that you can point to here or there. The Kingdom of God is not something that has palaces or cities. It is not something you can hurry along by your observation. The Kingdom of God is "within you.” The Greek can also mean "among you.”
So just what did Jesus mean? Jesus spent much of His teaching attempting to convey to His closest followers that the Kingdom of God is spiritual not physical. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the lives of people and among people. We see glimpses of the Kingdom, the rule of God in the hearts of people, when people are transformed by His love, count others as more important than themselves and take on the servant nature of Christ. Whenever and wherever people are surrendered to the King, the Kingdom is there among you.
This is one of the most fundamental teachings about the Kingdom. The Kingdom is within you or among you where the King reigns. So if your heart is surrendered to Him, then that is the Kingdom of God. The collective of human hearts surrendered to the Lord is the Kingdom of God. It is a Kingdom that cannot be conquered.
This is why Jesus said in chapter 13 that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, a tiny seed that grows into a large tree with many limbs. It is so small you can hardly see it and yet it grows so large it cannot be contained.
That is why Jesus said in chapter 13 that the Kingdom of God is like a bit of yeast that works its way through the whole batch of dough. The Kingdom of God is a contagious bit of God's Spirit that can conquer the whole world not by might or military action. The Kingdom can work its way through and transform the whole batch. When we begin to act in Kingdom ways the Kingdom is manifest among us and within us.
We don't have any record of just how the Pharisees responded to this. But the text says that Jesus continued to teach on this to His disciples. Did this mean "the Twelve" or a broader group of followers? If so, we cannot be sure that there were not at least a few Pharisees who may have been among those Jesus would call disciples. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea come to mind.
The question for us is this: Are we seeing the Kingdom of God? Are we looking in the right place? It is not going to be a physical institution or an organization. The Kingdom of God is within us and among us.
Lord, give me eyes to see and ears to hear Your Kingdom. Give me a surrendered heart that is eager to discover Your Kingdom in the eyes and hearts of those around me. Give me a spirit of celebration that Kingdom is among us. In Jesus' name.