What Did Jesus Preach?
The predominant focus of mainstream Christianity is the undeserved crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the subsequent forgiveness of sins that is available through accepting that sacrifice. While this selfless act was and is unquestionably momentous, and its effects exceedingly far-reaching, many would be shocked to find out that the Bible defines the gospel differently than what they have always been told.
A thoughtful reading shows that accepting Christ’s blood in payment of our sins as foundationally important as it is actually not the focus of the “good news” that He brought and that the apostles continued to preach.
In addition to dying for our sins, Jesus Christ came to earth as a messenger from God the Father:
Behold, I send My messenger John the Baptist, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1.
Jesus did not speak His own words, but the words that the Father gave Him John 8:38-42; 12:49-50; 14:24. His message was not primarily about Himself, but rather the good news that the Father ordained to be announced on earth.
While Jesus Christ was categorically the most important individual ever to walk this earth, the Bible shows clearly that the gospel that Jesus brought was not simply about Himself. Read His statements, and prove this for yourself:
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. Matthew 9:35.
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15.
Jesus said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” Luke 4:43.
Now it came to pass, afterward, that [Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings[gospel of the kingdom of God. Luke 8:1.
The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. Luke 16:16-17.
The inspired Word of God makes it abundantly plain: The “good news” that Jesus Christ brought was about the Kingdom of God. The “gospel of Jesus Christ” is simply the message of good news that Jesus preached not a message about Jesus. It is not primarily a message about the events in His life and of His becoming the Saviour of the world although it most certainly does include all that. But if the events of His life are not seen in the context of what He said, the resulting “faith” will be full of error and ultimately disastrous.
The announcement of “good news” the very best news that could be heard today which the Father gave through Jesus Christ, was about His Kingdom being established on earth.
But what is a kingdom? It is essentially a nation, with all of its citizens, land, and laws, ruled by a government. In biblical usage, a kingdom can also mean a family from a single parent grown into a nation.
A kingdom has four basic elements:
1) a king, supreme ruler, or governing agent;
2) territory, with its specific location and definite boundary lines;
3) subjects or citizens within that territorial jurisdiction;
4) and laws and a form of government through which the will of the ruler is exercised. If we ignore any one of these essential elements—if we ignore the message that Jesus Christ brought from the Father we will have a distorted faith, one that will not bring salvation.
Who Will Be King?
As shown previously, a kingdom has four basic elements: 1. a king; 2. territories; 3. subjects or citizens; and 4 laws and government. There can be no doubt that the King of God’s Kingdom will be Jesus Christ. Even though He did not exercise any civil authority while on earth, when He returns He will be “King of kings and Lord of lords” Ist Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16; 17:14.
David, one of ancient Israel ‘s greatest kings, was well aware that the physical kingdom of Israel was only a type of the Kingdom that God would later establish. He recognized that there were two God Beings Psalm 2:6-8; 110:1, and that one of them – the one who became the Son Psalm 2:7 – will be the King over the earth and all of its inhabitants. He will be given “the nations for His inheritance, and the ends of the earth for [His] possession” Psalm 2:8. He will be “King forever and ever” Psalm 10:16; 29:10; 45:6; 145:13.
When that Kingdom is established, “all the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before [Him]. For the kingdom is the LORD’s, and He rules over the nations” Psalm 22:27-28. While it is a given that God is sovereign over the earth, it is also painfully obvious from looking around us that this prophecy of the world turning to Him has yet to be fulfilled.
God made promises and recorded prophecies about the coming King as far back as Abraham’s time. He made the first promise, though not detailed, to the patriarch when he was 99 years old, just after God made a covenant with him and changed his name: “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you” Genesis 17:6; emphasis ours throughout.
God later repeats this promise of royal offspring to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob Genesis 35:11. His prophecy through Jacob to his sons also predicts a coming King, saying of Judah, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” Genesis 49:10.
Centuries later, He inspires Balaam to prophesy: “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel. Out of Jacob One shall have dominion” Numbers 24:17, 19.
Other prophets also foretold of a coming King, not just of Israel and Judah, but also extending to the entire world. Isaiah tells us:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Similarly, Jeremiah writes,
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jeremiah 23:5-6
The prophet Micah foretells the Messiah coming out of Bethlehem, who would be “the One to be ruler in Israel ” – but also “He shall be great to the ends of the earth.” Micah 5:2-4.
It is easy to understand why, when Christ came proclaiming the “Kingdom of God,” the people of Jesus’ day – including His disciples – were expecting the Messiah to be a conquering hero. Acts 1:6. They were familiar with the Psalms and other prophecies that described the Saviour as a “King of glory … strong and mighty”, even “mighty in battle” Psalm 24:7-10, who would “command victories for Jacob.” Psalm 44:4. They knew that one of the coming King’s titles was “the LORD of hosts,” meaning armies. Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 48:15; 51:57. When the people witnessed Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey Matthew 21:2-9), they recognized it as a fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.
However, they thought that the next verse would also be fulfilled at that time, yet it remains unfulfilled even today:
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.’ Zechariah 9:10
This same King, the “First and the Last” Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:11, 17; 2:8; 22:13, who entered Jerusalem on a donkey two millennia ago, will shortly fulfil this prophecy by establishing His Kingdom on earth. Zechariah 14:9. Jesus Christ has already fulfilled parts of these prophecies because He is a King. Matthew 2:2-7; 21:4-5; 27:11; Luke 1:30-33; John 12:13-16; 18:36-37; Acts 17:7.
However, when He came to earth the first time, He fulfilled the role of a messenger rather than as a ruler Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10; John 6:15. He came to deliver the good news about His coming Kingdom, but that Kingdom will not be established on earth until His return when “all nations shall come and worship before Him,” their King Revelation 15:3.