The Kingdom is Coming
Open Your Bible
Isaiah 11:1-10, Luke 21:25-36, Romans 8:18-25, 2 Timothy 2:8-13
BY Jen Yokel
Having been inaugurated through Christ, God’s already-active kingdom will be fully established when Jesus returns.
In summer, it’s easy to forget the long slog of late winter. I live in the Northeast, where February paints a world of gray and brown, and March brings even more cold, plus rain and mud. These are the days when deep blue skies and canopies of green feel like a barely remembered dream. And yet, those brighter days are just as real as the cold ones. No matter how lifeless winter trees appear, you can see the promise growing in sleeping buds.
Today’s reading from Luke reminded me of this truth, but on a much grander, heavier scale. This passage is part of a larger series of Jesus’s teachings in the temple at Jerusalem, shortly before the events leading to His arrest, trial, and death. In these passages, we see Him responding to the challenges to His authority and debating religious leaders on matters practical and philosophical. After making proclamations about disastrous, future destruction for the temple and Jerusalem, He launches into a dramatic account of the end of the age—of “signs in the sun, moon, and stars,” when “people will faint from fear,” before seeing “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:25–27).
Throughout the Church’s history, there has been much debate and theological wrestling with what these proclamations mean, and yet, Jesus makes one thing abundantly clear: Frightening things will happen, yet we should not be afraid (John 16:33).
It’s the message in Isaiah’s image of the peaceful kingdom. Despite terror and destruction, new life grows from the felled forest. “A shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse” and make all things right, a King we now recognize in Jesus (Isaiah 11:1). We may see fear and destruction as a tragic, yet typical, part of life on earth, but the kingdom of God subverts all that, remaking a world where violence will be undone, where a groaning creation will be liberated (Romans 8:19–21).
When Jesus spoke those words in the temple, He was days away from ushering in this chapter of this renewal story. Jesus inaugurated the kingdom to come, displayed His power and glory, and proved that death and violence don’t have the final word.
Here’s another interesting fact about trees. Those buds you see in springtime? They were grown in the summer, hidden by flourishing leaves. But we usually don’t notice them until we’re sick of winter and looking for hope.
May we, in this never-ending winter of the world, in these cycles of violence and pain and loss, continue to endure without losing heart. May we find the courage to tend the buds of new creation through our love and peacemaking, watching and waiting for the day they burst into life without end.