A Paradox of the Kingdom of God (Part 1)
We are impressed by big things: big buildings, big victories, big defeats, big explosions, big screens, big names. Even in the church people can be impressed by big auditoriums, big crowds, big crosses, big screens, big names (there’s some overlap!).
In Jesus’ day it was no different. One day as Jesus was stepping out of the temple in Jerusalem, a man was observing the splendor of the structure, exclaiming, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings” (Mark 13:1)! Jesus’ response may come as a surprise: “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down” (Mark 13:2). Jesus, of course, knew that Roman forces would raze the temple and carry away its treasures in AD 70.
Later, when Jesus’ followers asked Him for more information about that shocking prophecy, Jesus went on at length to describe the sweeping movements of history that would take place from that time until He returns (Mark 13:3–37). And there’s something peculiar about the way Jesus described the future. Sure, the world is going to come off the hinges in cosmic pandemonium. But the Lord’s matter-of-fact tone indicates that all that is simply the backdrop to an infinitely greater program. A clue about the nature of this greater program is found partway through Jesus’ discourse: before the end comes, “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10).
While headlines of demagogues, “wars and rumors of wars” (Mark 13:7), economic crises, and the decline and rise of empires capture our attention, realize that these headlines are passing away. Meanwhile, the gospel is being preached to all the nations—just as Jesus promised—and silently the biggest thing is happening: the King of kings is building His everlasting kingdom.
Whitney Oxford is a graduate of The Expositors Seminary and serves as a lay leader at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, FL.