Some questions seem to come up often whether in Scripture or in everyday life. During Jesus ministry the topic of the kingdom of God was major. He talked often about the nature of the kingdom. Almost every time he did so it was either by a story or by some comparison that he made. One of the clearer answers is found in Luke 17:20-21. The Pharisees were asking him when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus first answer was certainly a shocker to them and to most of us as well. “The kingdom doesn’t come with observation.” It isn’t something that you can say, “Here it is” or “There it is”. “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” Several translations have, “The kingdom is within you.” But the fact the word is plural indicates it is better to say “in your midst” or even “among you”.
The Roman Empire with which they were familiar had very wide boundaries that stretched much further than most of them could imagine. but it had very definite boundaries. It was not a problem to declare exactly where it was or whether or not you were in an area under the rule of Rome. The Nation of Israel when it entered the Promised Land that God had given them was given very definite boundaries on every side. God wanted them to know what part of that world he was giving them. At the time God laid out the boundaries for Joshua for the land that hadn’t been taken at all yet. Other nations were inhabiting the area and many different nations had their particular boundaries inside the country that God told Israel he was giving them to possess. It is interesting that God declared their boundaries and their ownership before they had actually taken over a single foot of it. God’s bestowal of the kingdom on them didn’t mean it was being handed to them on a silver platter that involved no action or effort of their own. Instead they were going to have to enter the Promised Land with sword and shield and take the land God was giving them. As long as they obeyed God and followed His guidance He would fight with them and for them to drive out the enemies no matter how strong or mighty they might be. But if they failed to follow His guide they would fight on their own and truthfully they couldn’t even take a little area like Ai without the blessing of God.
Whether it was the Pharisees asking about when the kingdom of God would come or the disciples asking just before the Lord would ascend back to the Father, their expectation was for a kingdom with such certain boundaries. Probably they expected the boundaries to be the same as what God had laid out for Joshua and for Moses before they entered the first time. Even if their dreams may have reached further than that and they might have been thinking of an even bigger and stronger land than before, it would still have been a kingdom with certain borders. You could stand in any one spot and know whether you were in the kingdom or not in such a kingdom.
I suspect that the reason it was always so tough for the disciples and the religious leaders of the time to buy into what Jesus taught them about the coming kingdom was the whole border, boundary issue. It is intriguing to me that Pilate the Roman Govenor who tried Jesus seemed to grasp the point more quickly than any of the religious leaders did. He asked Jesus if he were a king and Jesus explained “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were from here then My servants would fight. But My kingdom is not from here.” For Pilate that seemed to be an “Aha moment”. He didn’t feel threatened. He didn’t think Jesus was trying to rebel against Rome. Instead he realized it was because of envy they had delivered him and set about trying to get him released. He knew Jesus’ kingdom was of an entirely different sort than Rome’s.
But with the religious leaders, whether those living when Jesus was walking the dirty roads of Palestine or those living in the 21st century, the notion of a kingdom without borders just doesn’t seem to add up. He told them, God’s kingdom doesn’t come with observation. You can’t say, there it is or here it is. It is in your midst. It is among you. God’s kingdom isn’t one that will some day be set up in Jerusalem on an earthly throne from which Jesus will reign for a thousand years. He is now reigning at the right hand of the Father. He is now king of kings and Lord of Lords. Read again Revelation chapters four and five as God described for us the coronation of Jesus as the lion of the tribe of Judah, as he lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Remember how the 24 elders cast their crowns before him who was on the throne.
Every person that is translated from the rule of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear son (Colossians 1:13) becomes part of that Kingdom of God that is in your midst. Though Peter and the other apostles didn’t get it in Acts 1, in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out on them and they spoke in languages they had never learned before and preached the gospel of Jesus to the people, it became clear. Jesus has been raised to sit down on David’s throne and reign at God’s right hand. David is dead, buried and his tomb is still with us. But he was a prophet and he spoke of Jesus whom death couldn’t hold and he has been raised to reign. As the reigning king he has sent the Spirit whom you both see and hear. “This same Jesus you have crucified has been made both Lord and Christ” No wonder they were cut to the heart and cried out, “What shall we do?” Without hesitation Peter speaking the Holy Spirit’s direction declared, “Repent everyone of you and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Three thousand people on that day made Jesus their king and allowed him to begin his reign in their life. They willingly submitted to his authority by turning from sin and to God in repentance and were baptized into Christ based on the name of Jesus.
His reign, his kingdom doesn’t come with observation, but when Jesus rules in our lives we can see and know his kingdom is in us and you can observe that kingdom in the lives of others who submit to him. This kingdom has no boundaries but is available to all people, everywhere who will make him their personal king.
Is He your king? Is His kingdom in you?