Good morning! In the greatest sermon ever preached (the Sermon on the Mount) by the greatest preacher who ever preached, Jesus told his listeners, “Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). When Jesus came, the kingdom of God was central to his mission. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus told his followers, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). So what is this Kingdom that we are to seek? What kingdom are we to turn from in our repentance? What kingdom are we to believe in, or more importantly to treasure? Jesus tells us to seek his kingdom, we must know what we are seeking.
This was not the first time he mentioned the Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount. In what is known as the Model Prayer, Jesus prayed, “Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). In Matthew 6:24, Jesus warned the listeners, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and espies the other. You cannot serve God and money”—or material possessions or the material order. In our contemporary culture (even in the church, mind you), many struggle with the notion of any sort of kingship or authority is rejected. In reading a book on the kingdom of God by Stephen Um, he quoted a postmodernist thinker Don Cupitt who declared, “The age of authority of grand institutions, of legitimating myths, and capital T-truth, is over.”
Yet, did Cupitt not make a declaration with authority, thus negating his own statement? Many of us wish to run our own lives from within and reject any authority from without. Yet, when one reads the Scriptures, we see through all 66 books written over the span of 1500 years by 40 different authors one common thread: the rule of God in His Kingdom. From the boundaries and rules he established pre-Fall in the Garden of Eden when God commanded man to be caretakers and stewards of the earth (Genesis 1:27-28; Genesis 2:15), to the giving of the covenant to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 17), to the giving of the Law (Exodus 20:1-17) to the establishing of the kingship through king David (2 Samuel 7:13-14), to the sending of the prophets to preach not only about God’s present rule but about the Messianic rule to come in the person of Jesus. Each of these steps were just that, steps—steps to bring about God’s ultimate rule in the person of His Son.
In his book The Gospel of the Kingdom, George Eldon Ladd noted:
The Hebrew-Christian faith expressed its hope in terms of the Kingdom of God. This Biblical hope is not in the same category as the dreams of the Greek poets but is at the very heart of revealed religion. The Biblical idea of the Kingdom of God is deeply rooted in the Old Testament and is grounded in the confidence that there is one eternal, living God who has revealed Himself to men and who has a purpose for the human race which He has chosen to accomplish through Israel.George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1959), 14
Why this beckoning for God’s kingdom to come and for us to seek this Kingdom in the meantime? By seeking the kingdom of God first, Jesus is calling us to take our eyes off the kingdom of this world that can and often does occupy our hearts and minds.
Matthew R. Perry, Ph.D., serves as Lead Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church, Centennial, CO