From the beginning, understanding the Kingdom of God has been a challenge. Even though the Kingdom was introduced by the Christ himself, his disciples and even his apostles had trouble understanding it. Initially, being all Jews, they believed the Messiah would be a savior and deliverer for Israel alone who would end the gentile rule, regenerate the Jewish nation as God’s chosen people, and rule as the Kingdom of God over the earth from the throne of David. Jesus spent over three years teaching and instructing them, but their expectations did not change. (Luke 19:11; 24:21). Even after his death, their national hopes were still alive:
“Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’”
– Acts 1:6
These faithful men did not understand that the Kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom and does not favor a particular race or people. That simply was not in their world view. But as time passed, they began to more clearly understand it.
Christians today who want to understand the Kingdom of God must focus on how Jesus explained the Kingdom, not on how the ancient Jews explained it. When we reach back to the ‘old wine,’ our understanding will be veiled. (2 Corinthians 3:15) If, instead, we look to the ‘new wine’ as contained in the Christian scriptures, we will come to a more clear understanding of the Kingdom and be better equipped ambassadors of it.