When, for instance: you read your doctor’s medical report, you receive a legal document in the mail, you read your mechanic’s account of your vehicle’s status, your geek friend explains why that thing just happened to your computer, you get an urgent message from your medical insurer, someone attempts to provide an explanation of their chem lab experiment, someone speaks to you in a foreign language, someone provides their version of detailed instructions on how to drive somewhere, and on and on. Your response might be: What does this mean? What you’ve just read or heard may cause panic, confusion, make you see $$$ (£££), make you wonder what happened to plain English, make you despair at the mountain of catching up you have to do, make you question whether they’ve said anything pertinent to you, make you wonder why you’ve inherited no dependable sense of direction (you may have just read an entire list of my own uniquely perturbing thoughts).

What I do find understandable, is Jesus’ disciples lack of understanding when he talked about the Kingdom. The immediate ‘picture’ of Kingdom for his guys was a military war machine, an army, of battles and victories and visions of renewed splendor for Israel. For Jesus, the Kingdom was characterized by the serene qualities of peace and joy and love. So, it isn’t surprising that they would be pressed to ask, like me: What does this mean? Nothing Jesus said or demonstrated could find purchase in their current mindset. Their view of his coming was powerfully political. Jesus’ view of his coming was purely spiritual. Consternation was mutual. Think Jesus’ statement: ‘Have I been so long with you . . .?’ Or the disciples’ last question to Jesus: “Is it now you are going to restore . . .?”

If we, today, are being asked concerning the Kingdom: What does this mean? We find ourselves equipped with a fuller, more satisfying response. The Kingdom, we now understand, is present in our midst to save souls, to rescue us from sin’s death grip, to present us to the Father as His Beloved, to adopt us into His family for all eternity. The Kingdom is not here to rescue manmade regimes, to declare political allegiances, to sway international affairs. Our Kingdom, as Jesus clearly stated, is not of this world. So, for us, what does this mean? Jesus gets not top billing, but the only billing, the only place of importance. He is the rallying point of our days. If he is Alpha and Omega, that means he’s our first thought of the morning and our last thought at night. He wants (and mightily deserves) our all. Once he is happily established in our daily rhythms, we know a super abundance of peace and joy and love. That’s what this means.  PD

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