In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:9-15
Sometimes I see it. Plain as day. Obvious. Two women were at our photo club’s portfolio review. I knew one. The other was obviously her sister. More often I don’t pick up on it. Flash a bunch of statistics on the TV screen during a ballgame and I have to pause the video to take it all in. Sometimes I’ll make a comment about a certain play or player only to discover – as my wife looks at me with furrowed brow and confused expression – “He just said that.” Oh. I guess I missed it. Then there is that colorful expression: “He doesn’t know his ____ from a _____” [expletives supplied at your own risk].
How are you at recognizing God’s rule and reign over all of life? What does it look like? Is it peaceful waters and quiet moments? Is it decisive put down of any evil plan? Is it perfect health and richly delightful relationships?
In the end that will be the perfect consummation of Jesus’ reign and rule. All will be right. Every injustice will be rectified. Every tear wiped away. Every pain gone. Every illness banished. Everything will be in perfect harmony with no intrusion of sin, Satan, sickness, or sadness whatsoever. That is the picture we see of the heavenly banquet feast at the end of all time.
But look here: Jesus announces the presence of God’s rule and reign in the face of John’s arrest. This is hardly a high point of perfect harmony and “lines drawn in pleasant places” (cf. Psalm 16:6). This does not appear to be an obvious expression of the reign and rule (better way of thinking of the term “kingdom”) of God. This looks like the devil is in charge.
But Jesus says, “The time has come. The kingdom (reign and rule) of God is at hand.” In regard to the question of God’s timing, the “R” we need to exercise is to recognize the rule and reign of God. Jesus rules above all things even now (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:25–28; Matthew 28:18). It may not appear to be so, but he is seated at the right hand of God. This we recognize only by faith. We look to the things that are not seen. Faith sees beyond the current trouble and tumult of these days. Faith recognizes that God is writing a story across the span of time. The rule and reign of God is present but not yet – both at the same time.
This is a mystery. But if we are to fully embrace the timing of God, we must embrace the mystery while yearning for the final consummation of all things being reconciled to Christ. That means Jesus reigns and rules by grace in the hearts of believers. Do you recognize it? Does he have his proper place in your heart?