Acts 1:3b – He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God

 

It is very easy when you hear the phrase the “kingdom of God” to think of a territory, with borders and jurisdiction. In other words, we think of it as a noun. But when Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, as he did from the very beginning of his ministry (Luke 4:43), he was using the phrase more like a verb: in other words, the kingdom of God describes not so much a place where God rules, but rather the very act of God ruling – his saving power. All at once we can see how dynamic this is. To speak about the kingdom of God, as Jesus did here with his apostles over a period of forty days, is to describe the most explosive revolution ever to affect the planet. And what is new about the apostles’ proclamation of the kingdom of God is that the risen Jesus is now central to the message (Acts 28:31). You cannot speak of the kingdom of God anymore without reference to Jesus the Messiah.

More than even Moses on the mountain for forty days (Exodus 34:28), or Elijah making his way to the mountain for forty days (1 Kings 19:8), those forty days that Jesus had with his apostles were critical for the future of the world. Someone should have made a podcast. Even so, may our own forty days now, between Easter and Ascension, be a kind of retreat in which we might learn more fully what it is to proclaim the kingdom of God.

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, I am sorry for the many times I have used the phrase the kingdom of God almost like a cliché. Help me to reinvest the term with all the dynamism and adventure that it deserves. And help me to place Jesus right at the centre of it, where he rightly belongs.