Glimpses of the Kingdom

By: Spencer McCorkel
James K.A. Smith says, “we can’t not be desiring some kingdom”.[1] Woven into the fabric of our existence is a longing for how we ought to live and how the world around us ought to be. Smith suggests that we are all driven by this desire or longing, so the question he poses is what kingdom do we desire or “what do we love”?

In this way, the question I want us to consider as we look at the two passages below is whether Jesus and His kingdom disrupts our desired kingdom or satisfies it?

In the Gospel accounts we encounter Jesus proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17,23, Mark 1:14, Luke 4:43) and in Luke 4:31-36 we see the first act of Jesus revealing the kingdom that He is proclaiming. Jesus is teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum and the people are amazed because His teaching possessed authority. And as He is teaching in the synagogue He is interrupted by a man who was possessed by a demon. This demonic spirit recognizes Jesus and His authority and cries out, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” (Luke 4:34). And with a word, Jesus sends the demon out of the man.

Here we see Jesus’ power and authority freeing a man from oppression and demonstrating that Jesus is greater than demonic forces. The people of Capernaum see this glimpse of Jesus’ kingdom and they desire more of it (Luke 4:42).

Luke tells another story of a man possessed by several demons who recognizes Jesus in Luke 8:26-39. This man has been removed from society because of his possession and has been relegated to the tombs. Again, with a word Jesus sends the demons out of the man, but in this story Jesus sends them to a herd of pigs, who consequently run off a cliff and drown in the sea.
This whole scene is told to the townspeople who come to check things out for themselves. And there they “found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” (Luke 8:35)

They were afraid of the man when he was possessed, but now a different fear gripped them. Now they fear the One who had authority and power over the demons. These townspeople saw Jesus’ act of restoration as disruptive to their way of life and they asked Him to leave (Luke 8:37).

In each of these accounts we see Jesus “set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18), but, even more so, we see glimpses of the kingdom of God––where sin and death and Satan are completely vanquished, where Jesus’ death and resurrection has fully redeemed and restored all of creation and those who trust in Him. We see in each of Jesus’ acts a microcosmic view of what will be brought at His return. Ultimately, this is the kingdom we all truly desire. It may be unsettling or disruptive at first, but only in Jesus and His kingdom do we find our greatest desire satisfied and the true way things ought to be. In Jesus’ reign we find the true kingdom.

[1] James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 75.
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