The Gospel of the Kingdom

I picked this up at Scot McKnight’s but its actually by Ben Irwin – the gospel sketched for kids. I have to say I think this is one of the most helpful articulations for adults who need to have their understanding fleshed out to see the gospel as the whole story of God’s work in the world from the creation to the new creation rather than the truncated version that often gets preached in evangelistic messages.

I have read it a few times and love its simplicity. I might read it to my kids, but as an adult who didn’t ‘get’ this framing of the gospel for a long time I think it might be of value amongst us older folks as well. Ben wrote it after reading McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel

The King Jesus story

It all began with God.

God made everything you can see.

(And even some things you can’t see!)

God made the world to be his home.

Then God made the very first people

so he could share his home with them.

God gave them a beautiful garden to live in.

He gave them a job to do:

take care of God’s good world;

rule it well on his behalf.

But they didn’t.

They didn’t like doing things God’s way

and not theirs.

So they took what wasn’t theirs,

and tried to rule the world their own way.

They tried to be God.

So the very first people

had to leave the garden.

They had to leave God’s presence.

Without God,

they began to die.

But God never gave up on his people.

He still loved them.

He promised to fix the world

so he could share it with them again.

But it wouldn’t be easy.

Everyone who’s ever lived,

from the very first people

all the way to you and me,

have gone the same way.

We’ve all taken what isn’t ours.

We’ve all tried to do things our way.

We’ve all tried to be little gods.

Things kept getting worse.

But God had a plan.

God chose a man named Abraham.

He gave Abraham children,

and grandchildren,

and great-grandchildren.

God turned Abraham into a great nation

and called it “Israel.”

God made Israel his chosen people.

They would help him fix the world.

God went with Israel

everywhere they went.

When they were slaves in another country,

God remembered them.

When they were treated badly,

God rescued them.

God gave Israel a home.

He gave them a job to do:

show the world what it’s like

to be God’s people.

God gave Israel priests

to teach them how to love God.

He gave them laws

to teach them how to love each other.

God told his people,

“If you follow me,

you’ll have a good life.

You’ll get to help me fix the world.”

But Israel didn’t listen.

God’s people didn’t want God

telling them how to live.

They wanted to do things their way,

just like the very first people — just like all of us.

God’s people didn’t want God

to be their king.

They wanted a king of their own,

a person just like them.

So God gave Israel a king.

Then another king.

And another.

Some were good. Some were bad.

Mostly, the kings did whatever they wanted.

They took what wasn’t theirs.

They ruled Israel for themselves, not God.

They tried to be little gods.

So God sent prophets

to tell the kings and their people

that there is only one true King;

there is only one true God.

But the kings and their people wouldn’t listen.

So they had to leave their home.

Other nations came and conquered Israel

and carried God’s people off by force.

Israel lost everything.

Then there was silence.

Years went by.

No one heard from God anymore.

Until . . .

something new happened.

God sent someone:

a person just like us, yet different.

Someone who could rule the world

the way God wanted.

God sent Jesus,

his chosen one,

to rescue Israel

and fix the world.

Jesus did good wherever he went.

He healed the sick.

He fed the hungry.

He rescued people from all sorts of problems.

Jesus did everything God wanted,

but it wasn’t what God’s people wanted.

They didn’t want Jesus to be their king.

They didn’t want the kind of kingdom he would bring.

So one day, some powerful people decided

they’d better put a stop to Jesus

before he took their power away.

So they arrested Jesus.

They stripped him naked.

They nailed him to a cross

and watched him die.

Jesus didn’t fight back.

He didn’t raise a sword;

he didn’t even raise a finger.

And so the powerful people

thought they had won.

They thought they had beaten

God’s chosen one.

But there was something they didn’t understand.

They didn’t know that Jesus died

not because he had to,

but because he chose to.

They didn’t know that they,

like all of us, deserved to die

for all the times we’ve gone our way

and ruined God’s good world.

They didn’t know a servant’s death

was the only way to live.

They didn’t know a servant’s cross

was the only crown worth having.

The one true King had come

and given his life for the world.

But they didn’t even know.

No one did.

But then God —

the one who made the world,

rescued Israel,

and sent Jesus —

raised him from the dead.

Lots of people saw him alive

before he went back to God.

But Jesus didn’t just rise from the dead.

He defeated death,

so it wouldn’t have power over us any longer.

God gave us the King we needed,

a King who loves, forgives,

and changes everyone who comes to him.

This King gave us a job to do:

love each other with all we’ve got.

Because that’s how we show others

what it’s like to be loved by God.

That’s how we show others

what kind of King we serve.

For now, the world is still broken,

still waiting to be fixed.

But someday, our King is coming back

to rescue us and share his home with us again.

Never again

will anyone take what isn’t theirs.

Never again

will anyone ruin God’s good world.

God will live with us,

and we will rule the world for him.


(For Elizabeth)

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