For some Christians, everything is about the cross, and the kingdom is a mere afterthought. For others, everything is about the kingdom, and the cross is just a footnote. In this video, Jeremy Treat shows that kingdom and cross are both essential, held together in Christ.
The following is a lightly edited transcript provided by a transcription service. Please check video before quoting.
In my experience, there’s a lot of Christians who either champion the kingdom or cling to the cross, but often it’s one to the exclusion of the other. And this often leads to two different crowds. You have the cross crowd that’s all about personal salvation, or the kingdom crowd that’s about changing the world. But how unfortunate to have two major themes in Scripture pit one against the other.
When we look to the Scriptures, we find something totally different. The kingdom and the cross are held together by the Christ, Jesus himself. But Jesus isn’t just a generic superhero, he’s the Messiah of Israel, the promised one who brings the kingdom of God, but who does so in the most surprising way through his death on the cross. And you see this emerge throughout the story of Scripture. From the soil in the garden of Eden, this theme of the kingdom of God emerges. It’s a picture of God’s reign through God’s people over all of God’s creation. That’s the goal. That’s the vision of Scripture, that the whole universe would be re-ordered around the powerful love of God and Christ. But because of our sin, the route to that means that there is a price to be paid for the victory of the kingdom that is to come.
And so you see this prophesied throughout the Old Testament. And when Jesus comes, he comes proclaiming the kingdom, but that very road leads him to the cross. When Mark tells a story about the cross, he tells that there’s a sign above his head that proclaimed that he’s a king. They mocked Jesus as King. He’s wearing a crown of thorns. But Mark is showing us through irony that Jesus is who they mock him to be. He is the king who reigns with self-giving love, and by his mercy, ransoms us into his kingdom. And so that means the Lord calls us into, by grace, this cross-shaped kingdom where we follow Christ as king by taking up our crosses.