The Promised Redeemer

     The Old Testament has various names for God, such as Jehovah, Elohim, and Adonai. Its primary recognition of God, however, is that he is Almighty, Lord of both heaven and earth. The Jews have long looked forward to the end of the age when God would send his Anointed One, the Messiah, to establish Jehovah’s power on earth.

       The Jews of Jesus’ time looked forward to the coming of the Messiah with renewed interest, fueled by the oppressive rule of the Romans. They believed the Messiah, or Redeemer would be a powerful king who would free Israel from foreign rule. He would reign over a kingdom that covered an area known as Greater Israel, reaching from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates River.

       As is often the case with people of faith, the Jews’ understanding of God’s purposes differed from what he was actually going to do. They were right about the Redeemer establishing the kingdom of God on earth, but wrong about the timing and the manner in which he would do it. Rather than setting up a powerful earthly kingdom, Jesus opened the gates to an unseen spiritual one. Entry into this invisible kingdom would be based on repentance and faith rather than by birth as a Jew. This complete lack of political ambition by Jesus is one of the main reasons why the Jews failed to accept him as the Messiah.

       The Jews would be severely disappointed in their hopes of throwing off the Roman yoke. Their disappointment only increased as time passed. A generation later, Israel was absolutely crushed by the power of Rome. 

       The Lord had told Noah (Gen. 9) that he would demand an accounting for the blood of all men, and that the guilty would be punished by the hand of man. The Jews would suffer God’s vengeance for the execution of Christ and all the prophets who had come before him preaching the same message of repentance. Their beloved city of Jerusalem would be burned and its inhabitants scattered to the four winds.


The New Covenant

       After the crucifixion, even those who believed Jesus was the Messiah wondered why he had not rallied the country against the Romans and made himself king over Israel. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his followers and explained the answer to this question. (Lk. 24: 25-27) God’s plan of saving the earth from the mess it had gotten itself into called for a two-step approach. Before the physical kingdom of God could be established, Jesus’ death as the Lamb of God was required to  fulfill the Old Covenant laws of redemption and to confirm a New Covenant of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:17)

       When a group of Sunday school children of different ages were asked why Jesus came to earth, they came up with with various answers, all of them valid. “To fight the devil,” “Because he had to die for our sins,” “To save us,” and “so we could go to heaven,” were the most common responses. Yet when Jesus taught his disciples, he didn’t spend a lot of time on these subjects. When he did mention heaven, it was God’s dwelling, a place where the books are kept, or as a storehouse of treasure.

       Jesus’ favorite subject was the Kingdom of God, also called the “kingdom of heaven” in the Gospel of Matthew for religious reasons. Jesus did not emphasize going to heaven at the end of one’s life as the goal of salvation. Instead, he taught that salvation was synonymous with dwelling in the kingdom of God here and now, living according to its spiritual principles.  

       The distinction between the emphasis today and early church teaching is a vital one. Christ’s and the apostles’ teaching focused on how to gain entrance to the kingdom, how to live according to its principles, and the importance of our actions in reaping what we sow. Those who by faith live according to kingdom principles will have a great inheritance waiting for them when Jesus returns to establish the physical Kingdom of God on earth. (Col 1: 10-13)

Kingdom of God

      Through this New Covenant, Jesus opened the gates to the spiritual kingdom of God on earth. Only on his return would he establish God’s physical kingdom. Just as Jehovah had chosen the Jews and set them apart from the other nations of the earth, Jesus was going to call people from all nations to be part of this invisible, spiritual kingdom. These called and chosen people would be children of God and citizens of his kingdom, a state of existence that can only be entered and lived by faith.


When the physical Kingdom of God is finally established on earth, there must be people qualified to live in it and serve in positions of leadership. Because leaders in this kingdom will represent God himself, they will need to be like him, so their decisions will be both compassionate and just. As members of God’s spiritual kingdom, we are trained in righteousness, in virtue and compassion - in short, all those qualities one expects from representatives of a good and merciful God. The future leaders of God’s kingdom receive their training in this life as disciples of Christ. This can only be accomplished by submitting to the leading of the Holy Spirit, to be trained in righteousness and grow in love, becoming increasingly like Jesus. It is through suffering and self-denial that we are molded into his image, learning how to respond to others in a Christlike manner. The character we build through submission and perseverance in our daily trials is what prepares us to rule with Christ when he returns. That is why James (1:2) states that we should respond joyfully to our trials.

Kingdom Parables and Miracles

       Jesus explained the spiritual kingdom of God to his disciples and the crowds that came to hear him speak. He often did this by telling simple stories, called parables, that taught lessons about the kingdom by drawing on familiar aspects of life. At times he used parables to convey veiled truths about the kingdom that people were not yet ready to accept. He also taught about the opposition that comes against those living in the kingdom. This is experienced in spiritual battles as well as worldly temptations, sometimes even in outright persecution. Jesus also stressed the total commitment that was required of those who enter the Kingdom.

       Jesus’ parables frequently contain insights that may not at first be apparent. Sometimes this is due to cultural and historic differences across the divide of oceans and millennia. Often, however, the parables hide a deeper, hidden meaning because they deal with spiritual truths that are gleaned only on reflection or by revelation. A study of the parables in Luke yields a treasure trove of kingdom truths and principles.


“ After this, Jesus traveled about... proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.” Lk. 8:1

“The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you...” Lk. 8:10

“[Jesus] welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God and healed...”   Lk. 9:11

“But seek [your Father’s] kingdom and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Lk. 12:31-32

“The law and the prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached.” Lk. 16:16

”Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come visibly... because the kingdom of God is within you.’” Lk. 17:21


The Covenants

The Kingdom of God

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Parables in Luke, Part 1 Kingdom_Parables_1.html
Parables in Luke, Part 2Kingdom_Parables_2.html