Imagine being one of the 12 disciples. You’ve surrendered your life to Jesus, watched him teach in the temple courtyards and sought his instruction every day for more than three years.
Now imagine that the very Messiah you’ve followed, the one who came to save the world, is betrayed, nailed onto a cross, and seemingly gone forever. In the space of 24 hours, the hope you’d placed your life upon was dashed to pieces.
I’m sure we can’t fully envision the terror of that experience. The hero you have followed, the one able to heal the sick and raise the dead, has been killed.
It must have been a jolting experience. But it was one that opened the disciples to hearing the one message that they weren’t able to hear while Jesus was alive. They had hoped for an earthly Messiah, but Jesus was much more than that.
Following the resurrection, Acts 1:3 says that Jesus “appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Jesus began preparing his apostles for their mission after Jesus’ departure. He was training them about the importance of his kingdom, and about their responsibility in fulfilling it on earth.
If you read the four Gospels, you’ll see that Jesus is almost obsessed with this idea of the kingdom of God. It is mentioned more than 100 times in the Gospels.
I believe this was the critical mission Christ wanted his church to take away from his time with them. The assignment Jesus left for his church to accomplish in his “absence” was to establish and build the kingdom of God on earth.
Jesus’ kingdom was to be a new way for God’s people to live under his authority and rule. It would be different from every other earthly kingdom because it would turn the world’s values on their head. It called for a revolution; not a revolution of force and violence, but a revolution of values and ideas. And those involved in the revolution were to lead fruitful, kingdom-centered lives.
This kingdom would transform the world much as the coming of spring transforms the frozen landscape after a long and brutal winter; the snow and ice retreat, the waters flow again, and new life springs forth with an outrageous display of beauty.
This is what the disciples undertook. And they succeeded! Today, we are still called to this very mission; to build and expand the kingdom of God on earth. Just as the disciples transformed the Roman Empire that put Jesus to death, the kingdom of God has the same power to revolutionize our world today.
- Think about what has been on your mind today. Where does your mind wander? Lists of to-dos, excitements, disappointments or worries? Ask yourself if these things are contributing to furthering God’s greater purpose on earth.
- What are some steps we can take in refocusing our attention on God’s greater plan?