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The kingdom of God is among us

Waiting for the kingdom of God—that’s how Joseph of Arimathea is identified in Mark’s gospel (15:43).  He knew about the coming rule of God through the Messiah, he had believed it, and he was anticipating its arrival. 

Joseph’s friend Nicodemus must have possessed something of the same mindset for after he compliments Christ (John 3:2), Jesus abruptly tells him that he can’t enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again of water and the Spirit (v. 3,5).  Clearly, Nicodemus came to Jesus wanting to know more about the kingdom.

Maybe the most unusual of the “kingdom three,” is the rebel who is crucified with Jesus.  He starts off mocking Christ (Mark 15:32), then has a change of heart (Luke 23:41), asking Jesus to “remember me when You come into Your kingdom,” (v. 42). This is from someone who has probably been working to overthrow Rome’s rule and establish another kingdom. Apparently he’s given up on that and now believes that the One dying next to Him is going to come into a better kingdom.  How much he knows about this kingdom is hard to say, but we know this—he definitely has faith in Jesus because from a worldly point of view it doesn’t look like Christ is coming into anything other than death! 

Three different people all interested in the same thing—the kingdom of God.

The idea behind kingdom is “reign” or “rule.”  To speak of the kingdom is to speak of the rule of or reign of God.  While God has always ruled, there is a sense in the Old Testament as well as the Gospels, where the kingdom is yet to be established (Daniel 2Mark 1:14-15).  This refers to God ruling through Jesus.  This began after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 2:33-36), and has continued ever since. 

But the kingdom is dynamic rather than static.  Although it was established on the day of Pentecost over 2,000 years ago, it is still coming in the sense that each day people are making the decision to be born into the kingdom.  Moreover, it comes whenever God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10). 

All this says that Joseph, Nicodemus, and the person who crucified with Jesus, are all good examples for us.  Rather than taking the kingdom for granted, they were all kingdom seekers—thinking about it, looking for it, and wanting it to be a part of their lives.  In the same way, we need to see the kingdom in us, around us, and spreading through us.

That’s where we’ll find ultimate freedom and liberty. 

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