At His first coming, our Saviour and King, the Lord Jesus Christ, declared, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
“The time is fulfilled”
When Christ announced, concerning the kingdom of God, that “the time is fulfilled”, He was announcing that His first coming was a pivotal point in God’s sovereign, regal plan of salvation for those who would come to Him with the burden, guilt and misery of their sins. Christ was the anointed King (the Messiah) whom God the Father has sent to open the door of salvation that leads to His eternal kingdom. The King has arrived and the Gospel He proclaimed is His royal pronouncement for all those who desire full and glorious redemption of their souls!
No one needs to wonder any more: “How shall I be saved?” The Jews were waiting in eagerness for the One whom God has promised through the Old Testament prophets. The apostle Peter wrote about the anticipation of the believing Jews of the Old Testament – “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). This earnest anticipation of the ancient believers of Israel was truly fulfilled when Jesus came to die for sinners. One of such men who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” was the old saint Simeon. He said, taking the baby Jesus in his hands, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). As Simeon so powerfully and eloquently articulated, Jesus, the Holy Child, has come to bring salvation to not only Israel, but also the Gentiles.
Jesus’ entrance into this world was a great epoch ushered in by the sovereign God. It was perfectly according to God’s timetable that Jesus, the Lord, came to this world. Concerning Christ’s coming to this earth, the apostle Paul wrote: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). The hour for which the world had long been waiting had come – and it was the most significant moment in earth’s history.
“The kingdom of God is at hand”
The Messiah – the Anointed One of God – has come with the royal pardon. The King has opened the door of His eternal kingdom, proclaiming, “the kingdom of God is at hand”. All things needful for our entrance and enjoyment of His kingdom have been abundantly provided by that great Redeemer-King. God’s Old Testament promises that He would send the Messiah and His kingdom of salvation had arrived. He had come to pay in full the penalty for sin and thus to provide salvation for all the elect – from the beginning of history to the end.
Those who recognised Him, as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, shouted with joy, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9b). The gospel-writer John, in reporting this event, wrote that they “took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). “Hosanna” is an exclamatory Hebrew word, which means “Save now!”
Jesus the King came to deliver His people from the tyranny of Satan and sin, and then to usher them into His kingdom. The message was unmistakable: the kingdom of God is at hand. Essentially, Jesus was saying, “I am the King, and wherever I am, My kingdom is present.”
The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed has three major dimensions: (i) a spiritual kingdom, (ii) a millennial kingdom, and (iii) an eternal kingdom. In His first coming, Christ the King preached the good news of salvation so that He may establish His spiritual kingdom in the hearts of all who believe (cf. Luke 17:21). Today, His reign is invisible and spiritual in the hearts of all who yield to Him in faith. Christ’s kingdom is being advanced even now, as sinners come to saving faith in Him and are transferred out of the domain of darkness into the realm ruled by the Son of God (cf. Colossians 1:13). To follow Christ the King is to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33). Such is the spiritual and invisible nature of His present kingdom.
In the present, the kingdom consists of all who embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The King rules over and is resident in the hearts of those who belong to Him. His kingdom advances itself through every soul that yields to Him in repentance and faith. It will continue until He returns to establish His earthly reign, followed by His eternal reign.
But soon one day, His kingdom will be manifest as a physical kingdom when the Lord Jesus shall return to this earth to reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6). At His second coming, the Lord Jesus shall reign visibly as King of kings and Lord of Lords on the earth. Jesus Christ will reign over the entire world as the Supreme King. During that millennial reign of Christ, all the Old Testament predictions concerning His earthly reign will be fulfilled. After the millennial kingdom, Christ will bring forth the new heaven and the new earth, His final eternal kingdom (cf. Revelation 22:1-5).
“Repent ye, and believe the gospel”
Christ, the Redeemer-King, also proclaimed how one could enter His kingdom. He proclaims that all who repent and believe in the Gospel can enter and enjoy His kingdom. The word “repent” (Greek – metanoeō) means to turn away from sin and walk towards the righteous King. Having turned from their sins, sinners must believe in the Gospel. In other words, they must turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in Him and His finished work of redemption on the cross for deliverance from the tyranny of sin and its curse. As Paul explained in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Those who enter His kingdom shall walk daily in absolute faith. Their faith makes them genuine worshippers and followers of Christ the King. Their desire and prayer will always be: “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth.” That kind of belief is not a pretentious faith, but a wholehearted commitment to the Person and purposes of Jesus Christ.
Dear reader, have you entered the kingdom of Christ? If you have not, don’t delay any further. Right now, it is near you for Christ the King commands that you repent and believe on Him. If you don’t repent but live self-righteously like the Pharisees and priests who rejected Him, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31b). Jesus’ point was clear: claims to religion do not qualify a person to enter the kingdom, but repentence – indeed, even gross sin, when repented of, will not keep a person out of His kingdom! So, repent at once and believe on Christ, and you will have full access to His kingdom blessings.