Jesus and the Kingdom of God

Jesus and the Kingdom of God

According to Mark, Jesus began His ministry preaching, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Gospel means good news. 

The good news of the kingdom of God was the central theme of the ministry of Jesus. Matthew tells us, “And Jesus was going about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom” (4:23). When the people of a town tried to prevent Jesus from leaving them, He replied, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43).   

We have more than 100 recorded statements about the kingdom from the lips of Jesus. He taught principles of kingdom life. He told parables to illustrate the reality of the kingdom: it’s like a mustard seed, a pearl, a treasure in a field, seed sown by a farmer, leaven in a loaf of bread. 

Jesus proclaimed the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand, breaking into time and history now, hidden in the hearts of those who know Him, and will be established visibly across the world

someday in power and glory. In studying His life and ministry, it is essential that we understand what Jesus meant by this phrase, kingdom of God.

In the teaching of Jesus, the kingdom of God is more of a verb than a noun. It is far more than an idea or a place somewhere, someday. It is the dynamic, present rule and reign of Almighty God in a human soul. The kingdom is not institutional religion: not the church, its wealth, its power nor its possessions. It is not the heaven we go to when we die. 

There will be a future fulfillment of the kingdom at the end of history but that future reality does not fill up what Jesus meant by kingdom. The kingdom is also the active, dynamic rule of God here and now. It is a grace event that happens when men and women turn from sin and place their faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Here, at this time, in these lives, the kingdom of God breaks into history. God establishes His kingdom, His rule of grace in living souls. 

Jesus preached the good news of God’s rule of grace and showed what this looks like in works of mercy and power breaking into the lives of lost, broken, hurting people: “And Jesus was going about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people” (Matt. 4:23 also 9:35).

In casting out demons, Jesus demonstrated His sovereign Lordship over the powers of darkness and gave visible proof of the presence of the kingdom of God: “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). What He meant was, “If I am casting down the kingdom of demons, the rule of the demonic, then obviously the greater kingdom, the greater rule of God is breaking in among you.”

When Jesus sent His disciples out to minister, He “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness ... And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons’” (Matthew 10:1,7,8). In other words, proclaim the present rule of God’s grace and show people what it looks like.

(Note: when Matthew says, “kingdom of heaven,” he means the same thing as Mark and Luke mean when they say “kingdom of God.” They are referring to God’s present rule of redeeming grace, a saving rule that manifests in forgiveness for the guilty, liberty for the captive, wholeness for the broken and bound, reconciliation of sinners to the holy God.)

Yes, the kingdom of God will be established visibly in power and glory at the end of history when Jesus returns. But there is a present reality to the kingdom. It is established now, today, in the life of each person who surrenders in repentance and faith to the Lordship of the King, Jesus Christ.

What wonderful news! This present kingdom of darkness and death is being invaded by the Lord of light and life. The age-old cycle of violence, tragedy and depravity is being broken by the inbreaking presence of the God of grace. 

Someday these words which John heard two thousand years ago will resound across the earth, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). The Kingdom of God will be established across the universe someday and we are living toward that day. But we are also living in that day. The kingdom of God is now and not yet. We are living in the now and living toward the not yet.

Kingdom Present

“The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). 

The word time is not chronos, which is clock time or calendar time. This word is kairos which can be translated season but not just any season — it is the proper season or as John MacArthur says, “The fixed point in history for an event to occur” (Macarthur, Mark 1-8, p. 48). Jesus said that the kairos is fulfilled.

Fulfilled, pleroo, is a perfect tense verb meaning filled to the top. The threshold of the future age has been reached. All previous seasons have been fulfilled. We are at the threshold of a new season, a new kairos. Now is the entrance into the next and final age of history and it is inaugurated by the appearance of the long-expected Messiah.


In saying that the season is filled up, we need to understand the purposefulness of God in the unfolding of history. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit purposefully designed every particle of matter and each moment of time and all of timeless eternity. The true and living God understands all truth and all events with perfect wisdom and in perfect knowledge has determined the end from the beginning. 

The Lord not only knows how history will unfold, it is God who determines this unfolding and it is God who moves all of history toward that end which He purposed before the beginning. In Ephesians chapter one Paul reveals, “God has now revealed to us His mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill His own good pleasure. And this is the plan: at the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ — everything in heaven and on earth” (Eph. 1:9,10, Spirit-filled Life Bible). This is the God who “accomplishes all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11, NAS). (Mysterious, as used here, does not refer to something that is hard to understand but rather, it was hidden in ages past but is now revealed.)

The essential purpose of God in history is a kingdom coming, a kingdom in which the world will someday be at peace with Him, but even now is being reconciled to Him, heart by heart. It is a kingdom where wickedness and violence are put away and the power of evil is broken, finally and completely someday. But it is a kingdom in which the power of evil is broken heart by heart today. 

In the fulfillment of this kingdom children will sleep securely and waken to a new day overflowing with the abundance of a merciful God. But even now, children awaken in a home at peace as the kingdom of God breaks in, family by family.

In the fulfillment of this kingdom, Jesus, the righteous King, will establish His justice among the nations. Even today He is establishing His justice in souls which surrender to His rule of grace. 

It is a kingdom in which the redeemed will be presented to Jesus as the bride of the Bridegroom Messiah. But even today, the bride is learning to live in union with the Groom.

In the final consummation of this kingdom, the glory of God shall be exalted in heaven and earth and the holy name of a holy God will be worshipped as every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings. But can you hear the rising chorus? Even now, tongues are confessing and knees are bowing.

God’s kingdom purpose is ever before Him, it is the unseen force moving all of history. In the fulness of time, Jesus came proclaiming the kingdom breaking into time. Yes, this kingdom will someday be established visibly and gloriously across the heavens and throughout the earth. But in Jesus, the time is filled up and the kingdom is present.

Time was fulfilled or filled up in the sense that everything which needed to take place prior to the birth and ministry of Jesus — the inspired proclamations of the prophets, the ministry of John the Baptist, the convergence of governments and cultures which created a particular society at a particular time in Israel — had taken place. All had been made ready for the presence and ministry of God in human form. 

God’s activity in history had reached a point of fulness. The God who pre-existed all history, whose creative act began history, who sits enthroned at the end of history and who has always been present and active in history and never absent — this God chose a particular place and season to enter in human form. Whereas John the Baptist said, “One is coming” (Luke 3:16), Jesus said, “Time is fulfilled” (Mark 1:15). 

Time and history were filled up by God in human form. The season was filled with the presence of God. The God who was always present entered into time and history in a special way in the conception and birth, in the life and ministry, in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus. God took on human flesh. Creator became creature, the timeless One entered time and what God enters, God fills, fulfills and overflows. 

God spoke and a dark, formless universe was filled up with light and life. God encompassed Mary with His shekinah glory and she conceived the glory of God in human flesh. God in flesh stepped out of thirty years of quiet obscurity in a carpenter’s shop in Nazareth and spoke. As He spoke, the season was filled with Christ’s presence and power and mercy and message. The Lord is still pouring His fulness into the lives and seasons of those who receive Him. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete” (Col. 2:9,10).

John reminds us, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth … For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:14,16).

Time is filled up with the presence and purpose of God. Our lives are filled with the presence and purpose of God. The kingdom of God is at hand.

At handeggizo (pronounced “engidzo”) means approaching, drawing near. However, that same verb is used in Mark 14:42 as the mob entered the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. The Lord said, “Rise ... he that betrays me is at hand (eggizo),” and we see in the following verse that the mob had arrived, was within touching distance. So it is not that they were merely near but that they were present.

The kingdom of God was at hand, present in the person of Jesus, God in human flesh. He was so close people could hear His voice, see His face, reach out and touch His robe. He was so close He could touch a leper and release healing, take a little girl by the hand and raise her up from the sleep of death, hold bread in His hands and bless it as it multiplied.

When Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” He means it is within the grasp of our lives, within reach of who we are, where we are and when we are. It is not just someday / somewhere. It is not just the rule of God in a millennial kingdom on earth, though that day will come. It’s not just the rule of God in heaven. 

Jesus means the kingdom is present to function here and now. Wherever anyone acknowledges with repentance and faith the presence and rule of God in Christ Jesus, the power of God is released into that life to break the power of the kingdom of darkness and establish the power and presence of God’s kingdom of light and life.

It is God’s kingdom of light and truth breaking into kingdoms founded on the darkness of lies and deception. It is God’s kingdom of liberty breaking into the enslavement of captives who were overpowered by the seducing destroyer. It is God’s kingdom of abundance breaking into the desolation of those plundered by the demonic thief. 

It is God’s kingdom of liberating mercy and grace breaking into the lives of those conquered by their own sin and the cruel sins of a fallen world. It is God’s kingdom of sustaining joy and peace breaking into the lives of those overwhelmed by the grief and tragedy of a dying world.

This is what Jesus meant when He said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst (or within you)” (Luke 17:20,21). Yes, there will someday be a visible, glorious consummation of the kingdom of God on earth and a thousand year reign of Christ. But now the kingdom of God is present within those who have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. 

The kingdom of God is also present in the midst of those who gather together in the name of Jesus. The redeemed church (not all of the visible church but that remnant of the church that has been redeemed by Jesus, confessing His Lordship and living His truth) is a gathering of kingdom people among whom and through whom Jesus manifests His kingdom presence and grace.


The kingdom was in their midst in Judea and Galilee because the King was in their midst. And so today — the kingdom of God is present, even if few recognize or receive it, because God has entered human history in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. People can refuse to enter the kingdom but they cannot destroy its presence nor prevent its final consummation someday.

Kingdom Entrance: Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:14,15):

The Kingdom of God is established in the souls of people. Therefore:

1. The Kingdom of God is established spiritually, supernaturally. Jesus said, “Unless one is born again (or “born from above”), he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Entrance into the Kingdom of God requires a spiritual birth through power from above, and not through our own efforts. We do not enter the kingdom by joining a church or engaging in its rituals. The doorway is not baptism or holy communion but through a living encounter with Jesus Christ brought about by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9).

2. The Kingdom of God is established intentionally. Like all births, we must be intentional about entrance into the kingdom. If we wait passively for this inbreaking rule of God, we will never see it. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”  (Matt. 5:6). Those who are aware of their spiritual hunger, who confess to God the poverty of their self-righteousness, who call out to God for salvation, will be blessed to experience the inbreaking of the kingdom of God into their soul.

The kingdom of God is established as we repent and believe the good news. Repentance and believing are spiritual, supernatural, intentional actions — doorways into the kingdom. 

Repent means we take accountability for who and where we are, turning from our sin and letting our mind be filled and dominated by this new possibility that God has filled up time with Himself and is at hand, within the grasp of my life and faith. Repentance involves change — we turn from and forsake those sinful choices which once controlled our life to the exclusion of Christ and we now make room in our heart and mind for Jesus to establish His Lordship. 

However, in our natural state we are spiritually dead in our sins and blind to God’s truth (Ephesians 2:1-3 and 2 Corinthians 4:3,4). So God approaches us through the present activity of the Holy Spirit and awakens our spiritual perception, removes the veil of blindness. He awakens us to our lostness, our separation from God because of our sin. He enables us by His grace to turn from our sin. Only God can produce true repentance; it is a work of God the Spirit in the human heart. 

True repentance is always accompanied by Godly sorrow for sin. The Apostle Paul said, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10). The sorrow of the world over sin is nothing more than remorse over the consequences of wrong doing, wounded pride, irritation at the penalty. Worldly sorrow over sin may lead to despair but produces no change of heart leading to life. Godly sorrow over sin — remorse for the sin itself and its offense to God and people — leads to the forgiveness of God, restored relationship with God and the release of everlasting, abundant life.

As the Lord moves us to turn from our sin, He awakens us to the possibilities of faith, plants faith in our hearts, faith to believe and accept by faith this word of the kingdom. Sons and daughters of the kingdom are those who receive the good seed, the word of the kingdom (Matthew 13:38). 

We place our faith in the person, presence and promise of Christ. We believe that He is who He says He is, that He did what He says He did on our behalf. We believe that He is the holy Lamb of God who died an atoning death for our sins. We believe that He took upon Himself our sins, bore the wrath of God which should have been poured out on sinners and suffered the death penalty which our sins demanded. We believe that on the cross He made a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for our sins.

We believe that Jesus rose from the dead. In this resurrection, God the Father showed His acceptance of the sacrificial death of His Son. In this resurrection, Jesus demonstrated His triumph over sin and death. As with repentance, faith is a work of God in the human heart: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

We enter the kingdom as we turn from our sins and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

Time is filled up. The kingdom of God is within the grasp of the hand of faith. Repent and believe the good news.

Yes, someday the kingdom, the rule of God, will cover the earth, and every eye will see the King. However, there is a present tense to the kingdom. Yes, someday the kingdom of God will be consummated, fulfilled, perfected and visible in all its glory. Though that day is not today, the King is present and is ruling in and through the lives of those who receive Him.


Jesus wants to establish His kingdom presence in us so that He may manifest His kingdom presence through us. He wants to establish His kingdom rule of grace in our circumstances but also, He wants to release His kingdom rule of grace through us into the circumstances of others.

This is the gospel, the good news. Why is it good news? Because the rule of God means the over-rule of that which is not God. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed (bruised), to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18,19).

Jesus is anointed to preach good news to the poor. How? When we are awakened to our spiritual poverty, when we know that we stand condemned before God and are convinced that there is no human work which will reconcile us to God, then we will be given new ears to hear and a new heart to receive the good news that in Christ the riches of God’s grace are lavished upon us.

Jesus is anointed to unbind captives. How? Because the seducing powers that bound the captive in addiction and depression are being overruled and overcome by the liberating power of grace breaking into history and hearts.

Jesus is anointed to give sight to the blind. How? Those who formerly could not see truth, who were blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) are now enabled by the Spirit of God to behold truth in the person of Jesus Christ and this truth sets us free.

Jesus is anointed to set free the oppressed, the bruised. How? All who have been conquered by a violent, deceitful, enslaving world are invited to come out from the rulership of whatever has bruised, oppressed and captured them into the healing, restoring Lordship of Jesus.

Jesus’ ministry constituted a binding and plundering of Satan and this was a sign of the presence of the kingdom, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Matthew 12:28,29). 

This does not mean that Satan is powerless. He still tempts, steals the word of God from hearts, oppresses and invades human souls. He still incarnates His evil in men and women who then build the economic, religious, artistic, political institutions that form the values of this age. He still deceives and seduces nations. But Jesus in His earthly ministry and now through His heavenly ministry of intercession and through His church empowered by the Holy Spirit continually nullifies Satan’s evil purpose and recovers human lives from Satan’s rule.

Having come to Christ in repentance and faith, we celebrate this glorious truth, that the living God has “rescued us from the jurisdiction of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Colossians 1:13,14). Attempts to establish the kingdom of God through political or military means, through violence or compulsion, have resulted in horrific tragedy. Attempts to establish the kingdom through religious ritual have only resulted in religious slavery. The kingdom of God can only be established spiritually, supernaturally through repentance and faith in Christ. Only the Spirit of the living God can bring this about. And He does in every humble, willing heart.

“Thy kingdom come” is not a prayer for the second coming of Jesus. Much more, it is a prayer for the rule of God to be established and extended in us — in my home, in my heart, in my life so that through us the Lord may release kingdom power and presence in this generation. 

May it be so this day: Thy kingdom come!

Study Questions

1. What did Jesus mean when He said, “The kingdom of God is at hand?” (Mark 1:14,15).

2. How do we enter the kingdom? (Mark 1:14,15).