Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.
This was the heart of the message that John the Baptist preached as he prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus. This is the message that Jesus preached when he began his ministry. It is the message that Jesus lived out until the end of his life on Earth. This kingdom is unlike any other, namely because the King is unlike any other.
The kingdom was set up not by conquering flesh and bone. The kingdom spread to the ends of the Earth not by overtaking more land. The Kingdom was established not by defeating various kings. In order to set up this kingdom, sin and death had to be defeated.
This kingdom is not an earthly kingdom, it is not a temporary kingdom, it is not a kingdom that can be compared to anything that we have seen. It is a heavenly kingdom, it is an eternal kingdom, it is a glorious kingdom. The visual beauty of the kingdom cannot be described or put into words. The Apostle Paul when he saw the kingdom said; “he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:4, ESV). There are no words that we have that can describe the beauty of this kingdom.
But the beauty extends far beyond the gravel and the buildings and gates. The true beauty of the kingdom is the people. They are a different kind of people. They have different desires. They have different wants. They care about things that the worldly people despise and hold in contempt.
But we know these people. They are our neighbors. They work with us. They go to school with us. Our kids play with their kids. Our homes are next to their homes. We talk to them on a daily basis. Some of them have a really dark past. We know their past. They were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers! (1 Corinthians 6:9–10, ESV) Yet, they are now different. Almost as if they have been transformed. Almost as if they are a new creation!
Then again, maybe this is where the beauty of the people in this kingdom lies?
They have been forgiven. They have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb and he took their sins upon himself. He made himself to be despised. He made himself to be sin. He made himself take the wrath of God that was destined for this people. And they have trusted in him.
I guess this is why this kingdom is unlike any other; the King is unlike any other. The King is the Holy one of God. He was in the beginning of creation, in fact everything that we see was made through him! Yet, he became flesh and dwelt among us. As a ransom he gave himself up for his people. He loves his people. He knows the people of his kingdom, and the people of the kingdom know him. They call him by his name.