N.T. Wright is a leading British scholar, perhaps the leading evangelical scholar in the world today. Right at the outset I will say that this is not an easy book. You have to think! The book is all about the Kingdom, the Kingdom that Jesus was establishing on earth and not just in heaven. Jesus’ message was that God is now in charge on earth, just like he is in heaven, and this is what God’s reign looks like.
The Old Testament declared that one day God himself would come to the earth and be king. That happened in Jesus. Wright continually shows the Old Testament background and that informed Jesus’ teachings and would have been in the minds of Jesus’ hearers. The key Old Testament passages include Isaiah 42-55, Daniel, Zechariah 9-13, and many of the Psalms. Also the Exodus motif is paramount in the thinking of Jesus and it was paramount in the Jews of Jesus’ day. This motif would have included the following seven important elements, all of which were repeated several times in Israel’s history: a wicked tyrant, a chosen leader, the victory of God, rescue by sacrifice e, a new vocation and way of life, the presence of God, a promised land. These seven motifs were central in the story of the Exodus. They were also central in the Kingdom that Jesus established.
Wright underscores that Jesus’ Kingdom was his main message. This was a different kind of kingdom than the kingdom of the pagan Romans of the day and it was a different kind of kingdom than the Israelites expected. This was the Kingdom that God purposed. This Kingdom was marked by healings, forgiveness, celebrations, by love and justice and freedom. It was a different kind of kingdom.
Perhaps the main takeaway from Wright’s book is this: Kingship was central to the message of Jesus and to all that Jesus was doing. He came as King to establish God’s reign on earth as it was in heaven.