Recently I did an Internet Search on the word "kingdom" in the New Testament. The results surprised me both in the number of references I found (158) and in the contexts in which the verses were recorded. After examining all the verses in every book where they are mentioned in the New Testament I came to the conclusion that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the gospel of the kingdom, and it is this gospel that we are to announce to the whole world as a witness until Jesus comes.
One of the first things that surprised me when I concluded my search was a small detail that is easily missed because of the traditions we have established concerning the Christmas holidays. Its almost as if the meaning of certain Scriptures can be missed because we relegate them to a certain time or certain events of the calendar year and lose their original focus and general meaning for our everyday lives. In particular I am referring to the announcement of the impending birth of Jesus to his mother Mary by the angel Gabriel. Because of our Christmas traditions these Scriptures are publicly read only during certain times of the year, but there is an important message and announcement in them that surpasses time and season. Listen once again to what the angel said, and forget about the Christmas holiday traditions that obscure its simple meaning:Luke 1:31-33
31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
Now, our Christmas traditions focus heavily on the fact that a child was born and that he was and is the Son of God. However, how much emphasis have you heard consistently on the rest of what the angel said? "...The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David..." and "...he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." ? Plain and simple, the announcement of Jesus' birth was an announcement of a kingdom and the birth of its King!
Interestingly, this focus is reiterated later on when the Wise Men (Magi) from the east follow the Star. Once again, our Christmas tradition states that the Star led them to Bethlehem to the manger where Jesus lay. Not so! Listen to the Scriptures once again:Matthew 2:1.
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Notice that the Wise Men came to Jerusalem, not Bethlehem, after Jesus' birth! Why did they come to Jerusalem? Read on:Matthew 2:2.
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
The Wise Men came to Jerusalem because Jerusalem was the capitol of Israel and because they were looking for a King!
So, the Christmas message we make our plays about is in reality A ROYAL BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT! Is this really such a big deal? Is it that important at all? Well, King Herod thought so, listen to this:Matthew 2:3-4.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.Notice the agitation of the king, he demanded to know where Christ should be born. Christ?? How did Herod know Jesus' last name? Well, the truth is, he didn't! That's because Christ isn't Jesus' last name!
Christ is a title like President, Senator, Governor or Mayor. But it is also more than that, it is a very special title to God of the One Man that He has specifically chosen or "anointed" (Christed or christened) to be the legitimate ruler over all mankind and over all the earth!
The servants of Herod searched frantically to find the answer to his question, but they did not have to search far, they found it in the prophecy of Micah:Matthew 5:5-6.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Notice the use of the word, Governor, in these verses. The word Governor is a title of authority and speaks of an office which rules over others. This word is significant given the fact that the Wise Men had come looking for a King. But why did they come looking for him in order to worship him? The answer is found once again in the prophecy of Micah which we look at again from the book of Micah itself:Micah 5:2.
2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Did you catch the last phrase of that verse? Here it is again: "...whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
This Royal Birth Announcement was not just the announcement of any king; it was the announcement of the birth of a king who would be God in human flesh!! Read it again!
The prophet Micah wrote those words approximately 700 years before Jesus was born.