Acts 1:3 reveals that the subject most important to Jesus during that time was the Kingdom of God. This should not surprise us. Before Jesus began his ministry, John the Baptist declared that the Kingdom of God was close at hand. In his earthly ministry Jesus himself preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Now, with just a few days remaining with his friends, the Kingdom of God is still his passion.
Some people think the emphasis of the book of Acts is on evangelism. On the contrary, Acts is a Kingdom-of-God book from start to finish: Jesus stays with the disciples to further instruct them about God’s Kingdom. By the time we reach the end of the book we discover the Apostle Paul receiving visitors and proclaiming the same message Jesus declared:
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 28: 30 - 31)Believe me, when a New Testament book opens and closes with the same theme, it’s important!
Have you ever had to give last-minute instructions? Like Jesus or the Apostle Paul: what would be your last words? What important words could you leave with your best friends? They both chose to remind their friends about the message announced in the Old Testament and inaugurated in the New: the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
If the words “Kingdom of God” seem awkward when they appear after the word “gospel” perhaps it’s because in our day we have shortened the gospel to mean exclusively redemption from sin and going to heaven. The rediscovery of the gospel of the Kingdom, along with Jesus’ commission to “make disciples and teach them to obey” stand as the greatest need in the North American church today.
Here’s a meditation for Monday and beyond: what will you do with your time in the forty days after the resurrection? Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God. Perhaps he still wants us to embrace his teaching.