The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near, repent and believe in the good news" (Mark 1:15).
The center of Jesus' ministry was the announcement of God's sovereign rule over all. In the Old Testament, the kingdom is identified with the "day of the Lord," when God will summon all to God's rule, establishing everlasting peace and justice, providing material prosperity to God's chosen and final deliverance from oppressors.
Jesus proclaims that with him and his mission the kingdom comes near. He proclaims God's favor and sovereign rule over all creation. But Jesus' message doesn't include Jewish nationalism and the hope for material goods that appears in some prophecies.
The kingdom is the gift of intimacy with God and one another. This lies at the heart of our Lutheran understanding of God's ultimate purpose for creation, of God's mission to the world — to restore and to form community.
Martin Luther's Large Catechism teaches us that the kingdom is God sending the Son to deliver us from the powers of evil, bringing us into intimacy with God and our neighbor.
Our life in Christian community is an anticipatory sign of God's kingdom. Gathering around the word and sacraments, we embody the present reality of the kingdom that is yet to come in its fullness. Here we form the community of new people where God rules as victorious Lord of all.
In this kingdom community, our differences don't divide us but are celebrated (Galatians 3:26). Each member is accepted as a child of God, all having "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14).
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers