Why did Jesus come to planet Earth? While many of us can give a number of reasons based on scriptures that record what Jesus or a gospel writer said about His purpose for coming – for example, “to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10), “to save people from their sins” (Mark 2:17), “to fulfill the [Old Testament] law” (Matthew 5:17), “to do the will of the Father” (John 6:38), “to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37), and “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8) – the Church has often lost sight of the fundamental and primary reason why He came. While Jesus talked about it all the time, the Church typically does not. At worst it is ignored and if it is considered, it is often misunderstood or defined too narrowly, or put off to the future. So what was the overarching reason for Jesus coming to Earth?
It was to announce and usher in a new kingdom – the kingdom of God! Jesus said as much. When a crowd of people wanted Him to remain in their city, He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (Luke 4:43). Everywhere Jesus went He preached the good news that the kingdom of heaven had come to planet Earth! It was not only His inaugural message (Matthew 4:17, 23; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43), it was a recurring theme in His teachings (137 references in the New Testament) which included numerous kingdom parables to explain kingdom truths and how the kingdom operates (19 of 40 have direct reference to the kingdom); and it was His focus during the forty days between the resurrection and His ascension back to His Father (Acts 1:3). Jesus taught His disciples to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Acts 6:33), and to pray that His Father’s kingdom – God’s rule and way of doing things – come and for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10). This was no mere form of liturgy but an invitation to cooperate in seeing God’s dream for His world come to pass.
Sadly, the gospel message today is often diluted to getting saved, going to church, and then going to Heaven. However, Jesus preached a kingdom gospel which is altogether different.
Jesus came to reconnect Earth with Heaven. Back in the Garden, mankind lost dominion and lost their citizenship in the colony of the kingdom of Heaven. With Adam’s disobedience, the first man and woman declared their independence. They had committed treason to their King. Only a new Adam from Heaven (the King’s Son) could deal with the consequences. This is what Jesus did, announcing a new kingdom and restoring everything that Adam had lost, including his lost kingdom citizenship.
Wherever Jesus went as He healed the sick, cast out demons, and raised the dead, He declared that the kingdom had been expressed. He not only demonstrated dominion over sickness and the powers of darkness, Jesus restored kingdom rule over the created order (e.g. wind, waves, fish and trees). Having completed His assignment, Jesus then commissioned His disciples with His kingdom authority and essentially gave us a re-commission of the original Cultural Commission (see Genesis 1:26-28; 2: 15).
Gospel of a New King!
The Great Commission supplements the Cultural Commission in God’s comprehensive redemptive plan for creation. In the first-century Roman world, the word gospel related to the announcement of a new emperor and heralds would be sent throughout the Roman Empire to announce this good news. Similarly, Jesus tells His disciples to proclaim the good news of a new Lord and King over all of creation, and to teach and disciple nations to obey all that the King commanded (the kingdom constitution). With the indwelling power of the sent Holy Spirit (the Governor of God’s kingdom on Earth), all kingdom citizens are now empowered to also carry out the original Cultural Commission too (see Romans 8:18-21). We are therefore commissioned to make disciples of all nations by proclaiming the gospel (good news) of the kingdom and create healthy cultures, reflecting the kingdom and will of Heaven on Earth.