Luke 10:8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
When C.S. Lewis wrote his book Mere Christianity, he entitled the chapter on Jesus entry into our world “The Invasion.” He described our existence in this world as living in “enemy occupied territory.” No doubt Lewis chose his terminology from his experience of living in England through two World Wars. In fact, he wrote this in the middle of World War II.
The things which Lewis’s phrases suggest about our world and its control are accurate from a Scriptural point of view. When Satan offered Jesus all the kingdoms of this world in exchange for his worship, he claimed, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to” (Luke 4:6). This may well have been more than baseless bragging. Jesus calls the devil the “prince of this world” three times in the gospel of John. Paul refers to him as the “ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” in Ephesians 2. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus came to “destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:15).
While our Lord is the rightful ruler of this world and all who live in it, ever since Satan led our first parents into rebellion this has become “enemy occupied territory.” To this day the enemy’s kingdom dominates this world’s inhabitants.
To those who know what it is like to be held in slavery by their fear of death, to those who have experienced the oppression of having sin as your master, to those who long to be free of the dominion of their own sinful nature, the message of “the kingdom of God is near” is good news. The invasion has taken place. When Jesus says that the kingdom of God is near, he doesn’t mean that it is coming soon. He means that it is here. God is inviting us to live under his rule right now. Jesus has come to liberate us from sin, and the fear of death, and the control of Satan, and the dominion of our own sinful nature. God has given us the privilege living under his rule of love, where his yoke is easy and his burden is light, where he comes not so much to be served as to serve, where he rescues us from every evil attack and brings us safely to his heavenly kingdom.
Yes, “The kingdom of God is near” is good news: good news for us now as we live under grace, and good news for our service to that kingdom. We can be confident that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.