Did Jesus come to offer the Jews a Kingdom or to die on the Cross at Calvary?
In Luke 1.32 and 33, the angel Gabriel tells Mary about the Lord Jesus Christ who was to be born through her, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
So although it does seem that the Lord Jesus came into this world to be the King of Israel in the line of David, this does not preclude the idea that He would suffer and die on the Cross.
In this same Gospel, Luke informs us in the very next chapter, in chapter 2.34 and35, “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary, his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Very obviously, Mary’s soul would be pierced with sorrow, not because the Lord Jesus would reign as King, but would be rejected, mocked and finally crucified.
The Lord Jesus Himself made it clear to the two unbelieving disciples on their way to Emmaus declaring, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” – Luke 24.26.
So how can we understand these verses? What the angel Gabriel declared concerning the Lord Jesus Christ is true, that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever. This surely means that Christ would be King someday. But in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 1.21, Joseph is informed in a dream that the Lord Jesus Christ “shall save his people from their sins.” Surely the Lord Jesus Christ would have to go to the cross to ‘save’ his people from their sins.
Therefore, it seems reasonable, also in the light of Christ’s own statement in Luke 24, that the Lord Jesus was indeed born into this world to suffer and die on the Cross; He had come as the “Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1.29). The Baptist did not announce the Lord Jesus saying, “Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah…” But “Behold, the Lamb of God…”
Nevertheless, it is true that the Lord Jesus is King, by His own admission (Luke 23.3-4; Mark 15.2; Matthew 27.11; John 18.33-43), but that His Kingdom “is not of this world” (John 18.36). The Lord Jesus declared that now since He has been delivered to be killed, His “kingdom [is] not from here” (John 18.36) Furthermore, the Lord confesses when asked if He were a King that, “I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18.36)
Since the Word of God cannot be broken, all must be fulfilled. Therefore the Lord Jesus Christ will come a second time to reign as King over the house of Jacob; and His Kingdom will be an everlasting Kingdom.
Verse 21 says, “Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
Here Jesus tells the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God is ‘in the midst of you’, not ‘within you’ as in the KJV. The Kingdom of God was present in their midst or among them right then in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Later in Chapter 19.9 says, “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”
Zacchaeus had just confessed his way of life to the Lord in the previous verse. ‘I give’, ‘I restore’ – show his way of life. Indeed his very name means pure.
However, the Lord Jesus said that ‘salvation’ – in the Person of the Lord Himself, was ‘come’ to Zacchaeus’ household since he was a son of Abraham. Nevertheless the sons of Abraham were ‘lost’ too. See verse10.
Connecting these references, we could say that the Kingdom of God and Salvation is in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Further, in chapter 19 verse 11 we read that some expected the Kingdom of God to appear immediately and in order to correct this view, the Lord speaks a parable. In other words, the Lord intends to teach that the Kingdom of God will not appear immediately, this also means that the Lord Jesus Himself will not appear immediately. Indeed He is as a ‘certain nobleman’ now gone away into a far country…and to return. This will take its own time and the Lord will appear in His own time. When, it is not indicated. But return He most surely will. It becomes us to be waiting and expecting Him ‘any moment’.
Accepting the Kingdom of God is equal to accepting Salvation which is equal to accepting the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Salvation is a present reality, but the manifestation of the kingdom is yet in the future. The inward reality and power of the Kingdom of God is present even now, not yet its outward display of Glory and power. This will only be when the King Himself return and that for the Jews, bringing them salvation.
Chapter 21 verse 28 says, “…for your redemption draweth near.” Verse 31 says, “know that the kingdom of God is near at hand.”
Connecting these two verses, we could once again say when the ‘kingdom of God’ draws near, ‘redemption’ draws near. The Kingdom of God is equivalent to Redemption and both these in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.