It is amazing how often we lose sight of this. The core message of the Bible is found in the words of Jesus. “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!’”
When Jesus said the time had come, He was talking about the period of time since the fall of Adam and Eve to that present moment where He was actually announcing the Kingdom for the first time. Ever since the Fall, when God prophetically told the serpent, “He will crush your head and you will bruise his heel,” the world had been awaiting the redeemer, the one who would defeat the devil, overthrow his kingdom and rescue mankind. That person was now in the flesh, in Jesus. After many thousands of years, the time had finally come. The Kingdom of Heaven was at hand!
Jesus was announcing the Kingdom of God which is the rule and reign of God, the government of God Himself. When Adam surrendered ruler-ship to the devil, the whole world came under the control of the evil one, the one Jesus later called “The Prince of this world.” A prince is one who has a jurisdiction, a realm, or territory to rule. And the devil’s realm was all the earth. We see this when the Devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness:
“The devil led him to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to’” (Luke 4:5). Who gave the Prince of Darkness this authority? Adam did when he sinned and gave up his position as a co-ruler with God. The evil one has controlled all the kingdoms of the earth ever since.
So when Jesus came saying, “The Kingdom of God is near,” this was incredibly good news because He was proclaiming that a new government, the Kingdom of light, had finally come to replace the kingdom of darkness that had enslaved the whole world. God’s Kingdom was near, it was “at hand,” meaning it was accessible to mankind, and the prostitutes, the demonized and the tax collectors were falling all over each other to get into it. A new King was in power and He had come to wage war on behalf of His people, to overthrow this “ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), who ruled “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4), and bring in a new order, a new life and an entirely new age for all who believed in Him. It was the most stupendous proclamation in all of human history!
Jesus followed His announcement of the Kingdom with the words: “Repent and believe the good news!” And here, teachers, parents and educational leaders need to rescue this word “repent” from how it has been distorted in the hundreds of years since the time of Jesus.
In our day, the word “repent” has been defined narrowly to mean “confess your sins.” And while repentance certainly includes this idea, it is actually a far larger, far richer concept. Repent, which in Greek is “metanoia,” literally means change (“meta”) one’s mind (“noia, nous”). It means change the way you think about things which will then change the way you behave. It means get a new mindset. It means change your worldview, the framework from which you have been seeing and doing everything until now. It was as if Jesus were saying: “The world has been under the control of the devil. As a result, your thinking and your behavior have conformed to that reality. But now a new King is here! I have come to bring in my government. Therefore, repent and believe in me! Change your worldview, your way of thinking about everything, including your behavior, and conform your life to this new reality from now on!”