Jesus laid claim to a kingdom
Jesus had a very different idea about his kingdom than simply the nation of Israel.
When Jesus is interviewed by Pilate, before he is sentenced to be crucified, Jesus freely admits that he is a king with a kingdom. But if Jesus has a kingdom where is it?
When Jesus speaks about his kingdom he uses two phrases to describe it: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. It seems he meant pretty much the same thing by both phrases.
Any kingdom is the place where a King rules (reigns). I live in the United Kingdom so called because it is a collection of countries rules by one Sovereign (Queen Elizabeth II). Kingdom = where a king reigns.
Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself founded empires; but what foundation did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded an empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him. - Napoleon Bonapart
Jesus talks about a kingdom that has no boundaries
So when Jesus talks about a kingdom he does not mean that it is a place with boundaries you can plot on a map, or a place you can even go and visit, it is an idea, a kingdom inside us.
Where the rule of God is welcomed there is God's kingdom.
So what is the kingdom like?
The kingdom is populated with all those who call Jesus Lord. Jesus said that we enter the kingdom by being childlike (not childish). This means that we need trust and belief to become part of this kingdom.
When we enter the kingdom we experience spiritual rebirth and experience the ultimate gift of God - grace.
Grace is an important word in understanding how God sees and helps us. The grace of God is a quality of God that is a favour or kindness that is freely given without taking anything about the person receiving it into account, other than God's love for that person. The ultimate example of grace would be Christ's death on the cross - an act freely given by Jesus without us deserving it or even asking for it.
Much of what the kingdom is like can be found in the teachings of the parables.
Although there is a part of that teaching that looks forward to death and heaven, Jesus meant us to understand that his kingdom is also about life today.
Within the kingdom people will follow the example of Jesus and try hard to life by the rules that Jesus has laid down.
One of the primary elements of the kingdom is love. This love was to extend even to enemies.
Jesus taught that this kingdom will not arrive with a conquering army but will grow from a seed into a plant that will stretch itself further and further.
Jesus taught that the kingdom is so wonderful that we should be willing to sacrifice everything so we can be a part of it.
It will be a place of peace, love, forgiveness and a wonderful relationship with God.
Perhaps the best way to describe it is heaven on earth.
Jesus demonstrated his authority by performing miracles. He showed his authority by casting out demons and healing people. The other exorcists that we read about in Jesus' day resorted to spells and tricks to expell demons Jesus simply tells them to leave.
People were amazed by the authority of Jesus. He spoke with confidence and performed miracles with ease. This is the kind of authority that only someone in charge can exert.