God’s kingdom is characterized by service, humility, justice, righteousness, joy, and peace.
There is a saying attributed to Napoleon about Christ. He tried to compare Jesus to himself and other conquerors. “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him.”
God’s kingdom was not ushered onto the scene at the tip of a spear, not by Israel, or any nation’s power and might. There’s no conquering army marching under the flag of God’s jubilee. Instead, God alone shatters the yoke and staff of oppression (Isaiah 9:4). The Son of God shoulders the government of His glorious kingdom (v.6). The Spirit of the Lord is on His anointed one (Luke 4:18).
In Isaiah, the prophet describes how the people rejoice as if they were only dividing the spoils of war. It is like the triumph of a conquest, but instead, the trampling boots and bloodied garments of conquest are burned in the fire. This is all the celebration of a great victory, not against other people or other nations, but over violence and death itself. Peace, justice, prosperity, and righteousness follow in the wake of all conflict’s end.
Jesus’s kingdom is not a wave of military triumph; instead, His kingdom is the inauguration of peace. In the shadow of John the Baptist’s arrest, Matthew recalls these words from the prophet Isaiah: “The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).
Instead of drums and heralds, Luke shows how Jesus’s ministry started as a quiet moment in His home synagogue (Luke 4:14). It is a mic-drop moment long before there were microphones. Jesus reads those words from Isaiah that promised His coming: “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19; Isaiah 61:1). And when He finished reading, Jesus just sat down.
Soon, He began preaching, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). And the one who could say of His Father, “He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1) began to heal people. And from those quiet beginnings—first a few fishermen, and then large crowds from all across Palestine—the beginnings of those millions Napoleon spoke about, began to follow Jesus, the eternal King.
That is the kingdom we’re a part of now as believers. It is one ruled by Christ’s example of service, humility, and justice. Paul shows us how, in Christ’s kingdom, we live in freedom and because of that freedom, he urges us not to judge one another. In love and goodness, we walk with the Holy Spirit, as Christ brings us into His peace, joy, and righteousness.