“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” (Luke 16:16, NIV84)
When was the last time you saw someone so excited about church that he’d force his way in? What we’re more used to is begging folks to come to church. “We promise you’ll be comfortable and entertained … and we have a gift … and we’ll babysit your kids for an hour.” There are two great churches that meet at Robson Ranch, but folks aren’t breaking down the doors to get in!
So, Jesus’ statement above makes you wonder. Was Jesus describing a one-time occurrence? Was the kingdom growing so fast because Jesus himself was there, physically?
We know that’s not the case because Jesus told us that those who believe in Him will do “even greater works” than He (John 14:12). We saw it happen in the Book of Acts. Peter and John and the rest of the Apostles saw the kingdom expand even more forcefully than Jesus did! But why not today?
Maybe we don’t see an exciting, forceful expansion of the Kingdom of God because of our message. Look at that verse again. The Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament) are the foundation of the Gospel message—the bedrock upon which the Kingdom of God is built. They predicted Jesus—they pointed to the future.
But John the Baptist took the next step. He proclaimed something new. He announced Jesus as the Messiah.
So, the Old Testament looks forward toward the kingdom. John was the turning point because he was the first prophet to recognize that the kingdom … and the King … had actually arrived. The predicted kingdom of the Law and Prophets was now present and growing like crazy.
When people recognized that the kingdom had arrived, they wanted in! Maybe we can summarize the Law and the Prophets this way, “He will come.” The Gospel of the Kingdom can be summarized this way, “He is here!”
And that is the message of the church. We’re not historians looking back to what Jesus DID. We are not escapists, waiting for Jesus to COME. We are bearers of the Gospel message: He is here, in our midst. He changes lives now. He heals marriages now. He heals sick bodies now. He provides for his citizens now. He transforms nations NOW.
When we start offering the presence of the King, rather than entertainment and welcome gifts, maybe then people will start breaking down the church doors to get in.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.