There are many truths in Scripture we have to accept by faith rather than reason. Some we’ll never understand though they remain true. One of the most mysterious ones is how God the Son became Jesus the Man so He could carry out the mission of redemption. How He did that will forever remain a mystery.
Paul tried to explain it when he said: Phil 2:6-7 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
It makes me think of the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin who said: “Phenomenal Cosmic Powers! Itty Bitty Living Space!” How did the infinite, all-powerful God get compacted into the tiny space of a human? Something had to be left out.
Now, if you were God coming to earth to do a great work and needed to keep Your identity limited to only a handful who were to know who You were, You had to somehow conceal what might get You recognized as God.
For Jesus, though fully God, He would never be able to operate as God, unless He emptied out of Himself that that said, I am God. In becoming a man, He didn’t cease being God the Son, only laid aside what would have shouted who He was to the world.
What was laid aside? What was emptied out? His Glory.
The glory of God is the evidence God is here and involved in this moment. The heavens declare the glory of God. To a world that isn’t interested, they say: God is here. Israel saw it often when God stepped into their situations and delivered them in miraculous ways. They saw the evidence of God in a cloud by day and a fire by night that led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness. They saw it when the Tabernacle and Temples were dedicated to God’s use. His presence was represented by smoke that filled the whole room. It’s called the Shekinah of God – the visible manifestation of the presence of God.
The disciples experienced it on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit appeared to them as a fire engulfing the room then breaking into a hundred and twenty individual flames coming down on each of them to inaugurate the beginning of the Church.
From the beginning of the Bible to the end, you can see a progression. God around His people. God with His people. God in His people. Through them, He would now manifest His presence, or display His glory, from out of His people. That’s what Jesus did.
Remember the day Peter said: Matt 16:16 "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." How did Peter and the others know that?
According to Hebrews, God’s glory was seen in Jesus. Heb 1:3 He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,
Radiance: reflection. Without looking directly at the sun, how do we know it’s shining? We see its light, we feel its heat, we experience its power.
What OT believers experienced when God was at work around them was seen happening through Jesus. The awareness God was here and involved in this moment shouted of the presence of God in their midst. When Jesus spoke, they heard the Father. When Jesus healed, they felt the power of the Father. When Jesus taught, they heard the words of the Father. That was the glory of God being radiated out from Jesus’ life.
That’s why Jesus never took credit for what He did. He always directed the glory (that that reflected God’s presence) back to the Father.
John 5:36 the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.
John 10:36-38 do you say of Me…'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father."
There’s the explanation of the mystery of how the New Covenant would work. Jesus showed that the Father was in Him and He was in the Father. It was both an identity and a location of life. The greatness of God was in Him and operated through Him. It wasn’t His glory being seen but the Father’s.
This was something new. Only a few prophets in the past knew what this was like, yet God had been moving in this direction from the beginning.
God’s presence was the unique characteristic of the People of God. Moses had said to the Lord: Ex 33:15-16 "If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?"
That was the distinguishing factor that declared a people the People of God. But it didn’t describe how they would operate as the people of God…
…until Pentecost, when God entered His people. So vital was this new concept of the indwelling presence of God that Paul wrote:
Col 1:26-27 the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Hope of glory – Hope for how we might live in a way that demonstrates an awareness that God is present and actively involved in our lives at all times.
God with us now became God in us. The answer to the mystery is the treasure of the presence of God is in us.
2Cor 4:6-7 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
The Christian life is peculiar. It requires a power we don’t possess, to accomplish purposes we don’t determine, with abilities we don’t have, but can all be realized when the power of God is manifested through us. Where does that power come from?
If I asked you where God’s power is fully recognized, you’d probably say Heaven. And I’d agree. Heaven is the place that represents the rule of God, the throne from where God reigns over all there is, the realm where God operates with absolute authority, right and sovereignty.
Are you ready? Jesus brought Heaven with Him when He came here. We can see Heaven at work in and through Him. He demonstrated on earth what was going on in Heaven.
When he began his ministry, John the Baptizer said: Matt 3:2 Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus continued that same message. Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Jesus told His disciples Matt 10:7 And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'
What does that mean? What is the kingdom of Heaven and, how is it at hand?
The word for kingdom is Basileios. It means the right or authority of a monarch to reign, not the territory of His reign – His ability to reign from wherever He is. Jesus wasn’t saying God was moving the location of Heaven down to earth. Heaven is the throne room from where God rules the world. The throne room isn’t being relocated to the earth. That’s not the kingdom. The Kingdom is the realm that accepts, lives within and expresses the rule of God in that place.
Matt 12:27-29 If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man's house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
In this moment, Jesus gave them a visual about the Kingdom of God by casting out demons. Then, explained that the power they saw was from Heaven. Jesus was operating in connection with the Father ruling from Heaven. Yet, He goes on to declare something even more remarkable. He was entering the house of the strong man. Who is the strong man? Satan. What is his house? The earth. Remember: Satan is the prince of the power of the air. A challenging force to people seeing and responding to God.
He rules the fallen world that constantly tries to encumber and entangle us.
How would God’s Kingdom rule over Satan’s fallen world? That’s what’s behind Jesus’ words in the Lord’s prayer: Matt 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is [being done] in heaven. The answer to that prayer is for when the authority and power of God’s rule in Heaven is being done on earth. And for us, because of Pentecost and what happened when we received Jesus as Lord and Savior, the mechanics necessary for that prayer to be answered are in place.
By establishing the Kingdom of Heaven within the hearts of Believers, God has inserted the hope we will desire His will to be done in us as it is being done in Heaven. If the glory of God – that which represents God’s presence and activity in our lives – is what operates continually in Heaven, Jesus prayed for that same operational authority to operate here in His people. Thus, Pentecost. God through the Holy Spirit came into the lives of believers and now dwells in all believers as a point of contact to assure us of our identity as His Children.
It was what Jesus had said about being in the Father and the Father in Him. It was both an identity and a location of life. The key to understanding the mystery.
What Jesus had in relationship with the Father was what was to be the defining characteristic of Believers from then on. Being in the Kingdom and the Kingdom being in them. Jesus prayed for the moment this would become the reality for God’s Children. Which it did, as Paul said:
Col 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Transferred us into the sphere of God’s rule so that, from now on, the reign of Heaven might become the rule of our lives while on earth. But how do we see that?
The Kingdom within us requires a surrender through which we commit to God carrying out His will in us as it is being carried out in Heaven. How? With no resistance, with complete assurance His will is best, with thanks and appreciation for all He does. We must commit to praying: Your will be done in my life as it is being done in Heaven. Even though, and especially because, we are challenged by the fact we live in a fallen world.
That’s why Jesus prayed: John 17:15-16 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil [within the world]. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Jesus knew what our challenge would be: being in the world but not of the world. Surrounded by the influence of the world, would we remain separate or would we allow the world to infiltrate our minds and influence us?
Like a boat designed to operate in the water. Everything works fine until the water gets in the boat. That’s when, you’re in trouble. Jesus identified our struggle: keeping the world out of us.
Now, in Kingdom perspective, we are in the kingdom and of the kingdom because the kingdom is the working structure of God dwelling in, around and through His people. But, we are also in the world. It is like a world within a world.
Embassies are unique worlds within a world. They are compounds where a foreign country can carry out its mission inside a host country. Within the embassy are rules, customs and authority of the mother country, yet outside the compound is the influence of the host country. Diplomats are to remain faithful to their home country while living within another country.
That was Jesus’ concern. Father, though they remain in the world, keep them from the evil influences of the world.
A man was struggling with his weight and his addiction to donuts. He had resisted for quite some time but the urge came over him. He prayed: God I know I need to resist donuts but I really want one today. If you will allow me this one treat, I’ll get right back on my diet. So, he set up a test. To know God was okay with this, He asked the Lord to let there be a parking place in front of the donut shop. After 14 times circling the block, unbelievably, there was a parking place right in front. Apparently, God said okay.
By transferring us into the kingdom of heaven, God has placed the rule of Heaven within us.
The kingdom of heaven is God’s right, authority and power to rule in, over and through our lives. Having surrendered our lives to the rule of God, we are now to operate from the power and purpose of God within us. That’s how Jesus lived. It’s how the Kingdom of Heaven operates here on earth, right now, in us.
It will remain this way until 1Cor 15:24-25 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign [this way] until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
When that happens, the Kingdom of God will merge with the New Heaven and New Earth to come. And then:
Dan 7:27 Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.'
God is constantly at work fulfilling His plans. We’re in the middle of a greater plan that God is working out. Our time is called: the Kingdom of Heaven. We are privileged to experience the reign of God in our lives. When we pray: Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done in our lives as it is being done in Heaven, we acknowledge we have yielded to the sovereign right for God to rule from within our lives. Having surrendered to the rule of God, what we are in and what is in us, gives us our identity and location for how our lives are to operate…as God designed.
- Things that go on in the invisible realm are hard for us to grasp.
- But though we don’t see the activity of God, it is going on.
- So that we might live as God designed, the operational system of Heaven has been placed within us.
- It requires us to choose God’s will to be done in our lives as it is being done in Heaven.
- Jesus showed us how that was done.