God’s complete Kingdom that is coming in the future overlaps with the present reality of the world. In the midst of this overlap, we are called to live out the future in the present life that in reality, falls short of God’s Kingdom vision.
In this sermon Meghan Good, the Teaching Pastor at Trinity Mennonite Church, speaks of the “age to come,” where the future of God’s reign of peace and redemption will be fully manifest. This was the word spoken by the Old Testament prophets in passages like Micah 4:4, Jeremiah 31:34, Ezekiel 36:26-27 and Isaiah 2:4. These Old Testament writers saw this as an age to come that would descend upon the present age resulting in a dramatic end to the world as it was then known. In other words, when the future of God’s Kingdom came, there would be a complete end to the corrupt and violent world.
Mark 1:14-15 records where Jesus announces the coming of God’s Kingdom with his presence. Everyone hearing this knew what he was talking about. They expected the one making this announcement to bring forth the end of the world as they knew it as the new age of God’s reign began. However, the timeline of how Jesus brought forth the Kingdom operated in a different way.
Instead of Jesus bringing forth the completion of the age to come, the present age of the world where violence and death remained continued. There was an overlap between the present age and the age to come. While Jesus was resurrected from the dead, the resurrection of all had not yet come.
During this time of overlap, which is the time in which we now live, we have the opportunity to live out the age to come in this present age. We are a people living the light of the future in the present, not just waiting for something to happen in the future when we die and go to heaven.
As we are exploring how we are to live this age to come in the present, we are invited to ask: What will the future be like? For instance, in the future, we will not have struggles between the poor and the rich because there will not be such distinctions. Or think about the fact that there will be no divisions between ethnic groups. Or consider that there will be no violence in the future. Or we won’t be trying to gain and hold on to power over others but instead we will serve each other. These characteristics of the future are a preview of what’s God’s age will look like, and we can live them out in the present.
Matthew 4:23, the focus scripture quoted above, describes Jesus’ ministry of the future. He was enacting the age of God as he announced it and did its work, modeling for us how we can live as God’s people. We do this by the power of the Spirit, just as Jesus did in his own life on earth.
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