There are endless distractions which could have sidetracked Jesus’ earthly mission, but His will was completely surrendered to the Father’s. He would not allow Himself to be deterred. Jesus didn’t come to impress us with his miracles. Even though He did come to die for our sins, that was only one scene in the the eternal drama that is still being played out.
Additionally, Jesus came as an absolute example of how to live on earth in the Kingdom of God.
A primary reason many Christians live unfulfilled lives is because they think Christianity is like a ‘one and done transaction’ ensuring them access into heaven. Once they have their ‘plan’ in place, it’s about getting back to their regularly scheduled lives. Yet Jesus offers us the beauty of His power, presence, love, and leadership here on earth “as it is in heaven.”
Jesus introduces us to the Kingdom of God by example. Before He begins His public ministry, He is tempted by Satan. Satan offers Jesus the same thing he offers us, the lie that we can “be like God…without God” as David Benner says in his book The Gift of Being Yourself. Let’s look at the last temptation of Jesus as an example: “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me. Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’ (Matthew 4:8-10).
Benner goes on to say that “what we get when we choose a way of being that is separate from God is the life of the false self.” The life of the false self is built on three main ways we tend to define ourselves: I am what I do; I am what I have; I am what others think of me. If we are honest, most of us will find our main struggles in life wrapped up in one or more of these. Jesus has no interest in the the kingdoms of the world. (These are the worldly systems set up against God.) He has come to show us how to live in His Kingdom.
Following His final temptation, Jesus’ public ministry begins. It starts with these words: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). Directly after this Jesus calls His disciples, summoning them to a new life completely surrendered to the will of God. It is a life much different than the one they were previously living. You could say it was a radical change.
The call of Christ is to live in God’s Kingdom on earth indwelt with the Holy Spirit. His call wasn’t just a call for the disciples, it was and is a call for us too.
In an interview with the late Dallas Willard, he says: “The Gospel of the Kingdom is that you can now live in the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of the Atonement is that your sins can be forgiven. Those are the, respective, ‘Good Newses’, I suppose…if you have the Gospel of the Atonement, and that’s all you’ve heard, the rest of your life you will run on your own and you may or may not think of being a disciple of Jesus or of obeying him or of devoting your life to the Kingdom of God. You can still do that, but those things are all optional for you. That is where we really stand in our Christian culture today. Anything more than forgiveness of sins, and by that I mean ‘Heaven when you die’, is optional and most of our professed believers now do not know that they can live in the Kingdom of God” (Willard, 2015).
To live in the Kingdom on God means we surrender our lives completely to the will of God and put Him first in everything we do. It means God is a forethought, not an afterthought. It means we believe God is enough, even when nothing is working and everything seems to be falling apart.
We will find our life…our true self…only when we surrender it all to Christ and His Kingdom: “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).