The good news of the kingdom is embodied in the life and witness, words and deeds, death and resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus cures a leper or a woman with an issue of blood and exorcises a demon-possessed victim, he establishes healing and wholeness as the essence of the kingdom. When Jesus fellowships with prostitutes and extortionary tax-collectors, he reveals that forgiveness and pardon are at the heart of the kingdom. When Jesus feeds the hungry and binds up the brokenhearted, when he upholds the importance of clothing the naked and visiting those in prison, he asserts that compassion and care for the vulnerable are at the very core of the kingdom.
When Jesus chooses to fellowship with ostracized women, like the woman at the well in John 4, and to enjoy the dinner company of sinners, he illuminates grace, welcome, and hospitality as fundamental to the nature of the kingdom. When Jesus loves the unlovely or touches the untouchable, when he engages the marginalized and reintegrates the outcast, when he highlights the welcome extended to the wayward (the prodigal son in Luke 15), lauds the generosity of the stranger (the good Samaritan in Luke 10), shows concern for the children and invites us to love our enemies or pray for our persecutors, Jesus is pointing to the radical newness of the in-breaking kingdom.
Jesus announces that the old ways of an eye for an eye, of neglecting justice and oppressing the poor, of disregarding the vulnerable and ignoring the hurting, of condemning the weak and caring only about self and status are in opposition to the kingdom.
The whole life of Jesus and all his works provided meaning and content to the announcement of the kingdom. Therefore, to declare Jesus is to declare the gospel. Jesus does not bring the gospel, he is the gospel--the good news that in him the kingdom has broken into history and accomplished everything necessary for the restoration and healing of our world.
Jesus taught about the kingdom of God in parables. He describes the kingdom as something that is near. It is something that should be sought. We may enter the kingdom; however, it can be shut up and taken away. It is preached. It is forcefully advancing. It comes secretly. It will come in power. It is to be looked forward to. And yet, it is already "among you." It is only for the committed. It is for children and those who are like children. It is for the poor in spirit and the persecuted. The poor disciple possesses it, but the rich man enters it only with great difficulty. It is above all a mystery!
The kingdom is about right, joyous, and reconciled relationships. Jesus describes the kingdom as a tiny mustard seed that becomes a tree where the birds live; it is like yeast that permeates and changes the bread dough. The unobtrusive, powerful and transforming growth of the kingdom in our lives often surprises us.
A final thought: It is interesting that Jesus does not seem to need to resolve this tension of the kingdom present and the kingdom not yet fulfilled. He can handle that tension. And it just reminds me of the fact that we will never totally figure it out either, because it is NOT OUR KINGDOM TO FIGURE OUT! It's God! The Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of Noah or John or Jane or your church.