In Jesus’ day, the Israelites, being under heavy oppression from the Roman authorities, were longing for the Messiah. They knew, from the Scriptures, that the Messiah would come and establish the Kingdom of God, which in their minds meant the destruction of all of their enemies (including Rome). So, when Jesus appears, and is claiming that He is the Messiah, most of the Israelites dismissed Him right off. He was the son of a carpenter. He was no warrior. He wasn’t capable of overthrowing anybody, let alone the Roman Empire! Even those who followed Him, the disciples, were most likely just waiting for the day when He would call down the Legions of angels and finally destroy their enemies. They were not expecting Jesus to suffer and die at the hands of their enemies. To them, and to most Israelites, that was an automatic dismissal of His messiahship.
But, when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples, I can just imagine it all clicking in their minds at that moment. They probably remembered when Jesus told them that “the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21). At the time, this probably didn’t make any sense! Remember they were still waiting for the “conquering messiah”. But now, they are realizing that Jesus was demonstrating the Kingdom of God the whole time that He was with them. You see, the word ‘kingdom’ literally means ‘dome over which the king reigns’. An earthly king only reigns over the land within His borders. That is the dome over which he reigns. Anything outside that dome is up for grabs.
When Jesus said, “the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you,” he’s saying that to the extent that you are surrendered to the reign of God, you are living in the Kingdom of God. We can all, individually, live in the Kingdom, IF we are surrendered to His reign. And THAT is what Jesus demonstrated as He walked on earth… a life completely surrendered to the reign of God. He did nothing except for what the Father willed. He said nothing except what the Father spoke. And He went to the cross, despite his apparent desire to avoid it.
So, how can the Kingdom of God be here, now? By us surrendering completely to the reign of God. In every moment, every thought, every action. Can we do this perfectly like Jesus did? I don’t think so. But… to the extent that we do, we are living in the Kingdom now, and that’s where I want to be! Let’s spread the Kingdom!