A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 24; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 162 through 168
Jesus talked a lot about kingdoms. So I took it upon myself to just check out the largest and smallest kingdoms in the world. The largest is Russia with 17.1 million square kilometers of land mass. In fact, Russia is 7 million square kilometers bigger than its closest rival, Canada.
Now compare that 17.1 million square kilometers with the smallest country, the Vatican, which stands at a whopping 0.44 square kilometers. That’s less than 90 footfall fields. Just the fields, no sidelines or stands or parking lots, just the playing fields. The Vatican is less than two-thirds the size of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.
That is some disparity in the size of countries in case you didn’t notice. Or if you don’t want to count the Vatican as a country even though it is recognized as a sovereign nation of its own, we could look at the next smallest country, Monaco. Monaco is a whopping 2 square kilometers. So yeah it’s really big, almost three times the size of the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.
If you’ve ever gotten stuck in Dallas because of weather and walked around that place, you might be able to say you’ve walked the width and breadth of a whole kingdom and not be far from wrong.
Jesus wasn’t talking about one of these kingdom’s, though. Jesus went about the countryside staying on track with a pretty straight forward message about the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent.
Notice he didn’t say the kingdom was coming soon. He didn’t say watch for it, the kingdom might be on its way. He didn’t way it’s close by. Jesus told the crowds, everyone who would listen. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent. God came to live right here with us.
Just like God walked in the middle of the garden with Adam and Eve. Just like God had Moses build the tabernacle right in the middle of the camp as the Israelites fled from Egypt. Just like God gave David and Solomon the plans for the temple and the Holy of Holies where his glory could be seen in the most heavily populated city in the nation. Just like he came in to live in human flesh. God came to live right smack dab in the middle of us. He wants to have an intimate, face-to-face relationship with us.
Jesus gave up heaven to live like us on this tiny little speck of rock in his grand universe so he could save us from our sins. He wanted to experience humanity so he could empathize with us. He wanted to be able to say to each of us, “I know what it’s like. I’ve been there.”
We cannot begin to imagine what Jesus gave up to come live with us. But he loved us so much that he did it. He loved us so much that he experienced every aspect of life that we face, yet came through it victorious. Obedient to the Father in every respect.
Russia is a huge country. It would take a lifetime and more to explore all of it. Even today there are unmapped parts of the country. Places where people have not placed their feet in some of the vast frozen wilderness in the northern parts of Russia. Then there is the Vatican. Every inch touched by thousands of pilgrims through the centuries. Priests and monks and nuns and visitors in the millions flock to the tiny country each year in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Pope, the head of the largest organized Christian denomination in the world.
But neither of these countries compares to the kingdom of which Jesus speaks. As big or rich or populated or well known or visited or isolated, no country on the planet is like the kingdom Jesus says is at hand.
Those around him hoped he spoke of a kingdom that would overthrow the Romans. The largest, most powerful nation to date. It spanned much of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Rome ruled with an iron fist. Caesar conquered all and all submitted to his rule. But Jesus spoke of the new kingdom. A kingdom not of this world. A kingdom that with one word from him would have rescued him from the pain and suffering he endured for us. A kingdom with an army of angels against which no power can stand ready to do his bidding.
God’s kingdom. His kingdom. The kingdom in which everyone who believes in him for the forgiveness of sin holds citizenship. Our kingdom. We share with him in that beautiful place called heaven. Jesus spoke of the kingdom at hand. Right where we are. Here. Now. Ready to be realized if we will open our hearts and minds to him.
Do I understand all of what he meant by his words? Not yet. I know his peace when others around me wonder at the peace I enjoy in the circumstances around me. I know his peace when the situation calls for chaos and anxiety and anguish. I know his peace when things go well and things don’t go so well. He told us he would leave his peace with us. And I can testify with first hand knowledge that his promise is true in my life. I also see that peace in the face of other Christian men and women around me that the world would say have every right to have responses very different than the peace they exude. But God’s peace, a byproduct of citizenship in his kingdom, can be with us now. In this chaotic and sinful world.
There is so much more about his kingdom we will not understand until Jesus returns and takes us there. He said he’s been building a house that will fit everyone who believes in him and he’ll come and take us to be with him when his father tells him it is time. Do I understand how that works or when that will be? Nope. No one does except the Father and him. That doesn’t mean we can’t believe, though. With all the computers chips and electronics surrounding the engine and transmission in my car, I no longer know how my car works, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it will run when I put turn the key in the ignition. Faith is faith. The eternal question is in whom do you put your faith? Will Jesus be your Lord and King or will you try to sit on the throne even though you really have so little control over your life.
Jesus’ message is simple. Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
You can be part of that kingdom. Just ask. Believe. Trust. That’s all faith is. Believing in something you cannot see. When you put your faith in him, you will not be sorry. You will begin to know the promises he made for those who trust in him. You will begin to see his handiwork as never before. You will begin to understand the story he laid out for us so that we can join with him again in the paradise he created for us. Death will be gone. Pain will be gone. Suffering will be gone. Evil will be gone. What will be left is the work and worship God created for us in the first place.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.