“The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
One of the aspects of my job as a teacher that I enjoy the most is taking pupils on school trips. Over the years I’ve run many trips and visits, day trips and residential visits, trips within the UK and overseas. The trip I’ve probably enjoyed the most is one that I established for pupils in Year 7; a four day visit to Normandy. Pupils that age can find long journeys particularly tiresome, however, and the question, “how much longer?” is asked very regularly! My stock response to this question (blame my odd sense of humour) is “about ten minutes.” It’s interesting to see how soon pupils cotton on to the fact that they always get the same response!
In today’s passage, the Pharisees have asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus had already spoken on several occasions of the kingdom of God and, quite naturally, they want to know when this development would come about. Jesus answers the question in a very surprising way; the kingdom of God isn’t something that you can see or point to. The kingdom of God is right there, amongst them, ‘in their midst’! How can this be, they must have thought. There was nothing at all to show that God’s kingdom was present, no armies ready to liberate God’s people, no buglers announcing his arrival, no choirs of angels praising his name. They misunderstood what Jesus was referring to, however. It was the work that Jesus was undertaking was building the kingdom of God. Through his preaching and through his miracles he was touching the hearts and minds of the people he encountered. Through his teaching Jesus told his followers the true meaning of life, namely to love and obediently serve God, and to display this love to all they encountered. This was how Jesus was establishing the kingdom of God, and this was why the kingdom of God was already present, in their midst.
Jesus is still working to bring about the kingdom of God. Since his resurrection, however, he is doing so through the Holy Spirit at work in us. It is we who are now responsible for bringing about God’s kingdom! Let’s pray today that God would equip us for our part in his plan, and that he would show us what he would have us do to bring about his kingdom in our midst.