A REVELATION OF THE KINGDOM
Matthew is not a book of mere stories or doctrines; it is a book giving us a revelation of the kingdom. The kingdom is the wonderful Christ who has been sown into us, and who grows in us, transforming us until we reach maturity. Eventually, the time of harvest will come, and that will be the full manifestation of the kingdom. We must see this. We need to look at the book of Matthew from a heavenly angle, not from the angle of stories, doctrines, and teachings. If we look at Matthew from a heavenly angle, we will see that it reveals the Lord Jesus as the seed of the kingdom, as the gradual growth of the kingdom, and as the full maturity of the kingdom. We must see Matthew from such a viewpoint.
The New Testament reveals the Lord Jesus as the seed of the kingdom sown into people. When the seed grows within them, that is simply the growth of the kingdom. As He spreads within people, that is the spreading of the kingdom. One day He will be matured in so many who love Him. When the time of ripeness comes, that will be the time of harvest, the full manifestation of the kingdom.
THE SPREADING OF THE LORD JESUS
How can we prove that the kingdom is the spreading of the Lord Jesus? The strongest proof is found in Matthew 16:28 where He told His disciples that some of them would not die before they saw the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. The parallel verse in Mark 9:1 says, "...til they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." Six days later He went up to the mountaintop with three of His disciples and was transfigured before them. The transfiguration of the Lord Jesus was His spreading. Jehovah-plus and God-Jehovah-plus indwelt the little Nazarene, Jesus. On the mountaintop, Jehovah-plus and God-plus shined out of the Nazarene. Peter was surprised and said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here" (Matt. 17:4). In a sense, Peter did not know how to respond. What we call the transfiguration was, in the Lord’s words, the coming of the kingdom of God. The coming of the kingdom was the shining, the spreading, the release, and the overshadowing of the Lord Jesus. One day, when we experience the full coming of the kingdom, we will be surprised just as Peter was. We will not know what to say.
THE KINGDOM IN ROMANS
Now we need to consider some passages in the Epistles. Romans 14:17-18 shows us that the kingdom is present today and that the kingdom is simply the proper church life. According to some teachers, the kingdom has not yet come. They say that today is the dispensation of the church, and the next dispensation will be that of the kingdom. But Paul says that the "kingdom of God is..." (Rom. 14:17). He does not say that the kingdom of God shall be; he uses the present tense and says that the kingdom of God is. "The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
He goes on in verse 18 to say: "For he who in this serves Christ as a slave is well-pleasing to God and approved by men." These verses reveal that the kingdom is the serving of Christ. To serve Christ is not mainly to do things for Christ; it means primarily to minister Christ to others. First, we experience Christ, and Christ becomes ours. Then we minister the Christ we have gained to others. This is what it means to serve Christ, and this serving of Christ is the kingdom.
Some of you have been reading the book of Romans for years and may think that Romans is only about salvation and justification by faith. Have you ever noticed that in Romans there is the kingdom as the serving of Christ? Romans 14 presents a strategic point: the kingdom of God is the serving of Christ, the ministering of Christ, to others. Therefore, Romans also is a book on the kingdom.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)