Jesus tells us clearly in chapter 14 of John’s gospel that loving Him is keeping His commandments. In practically the same breath He says “and I will send you another comforter… I will not leave you orphans… If my word dwells in you my Father and I will come and manifest ourselves…“ ((John 14 :16, 18, 21) As He approaches the end of His days on Earth with the first citizens of His kingdom, Jesus goes to great lengths to make clear what life and service in His kingdom entails: we are to do what He says, the Holy Spirit will come to help us, and if we do, with the Spirit’s help, He and the Father will make their presence known among us and His Church will be built.
When Jesus tells the disciples about the coming Holy Spirit, He calls Him Spirit of Truth, and promises that this Helper will come and bring to remembrance everything that He has said. The word He requires us to keep, that He had spent three years teaching and preaching, was the truth about His kingdom. If we want to find the summary of this truth – the manifesto of the Kingdom – in one Bible passage, we usually look to the sermon on the mount at the beginning of the gospel of Matthew. To put it simply and succinctly, Jesus teaches here that God’s ways are not our ways, and that if we want to live a life that pleases God it must be according to his Ways and not ours.
He spent the next three years preaching this message, and demonstrating by His miracles that He had the authority to preach it. At the end of His ministry, when He was giving His disciples the concluding message recorded by the apostle John, He sums up His teaching with the one commandment: “love one another.“
The kingdom values outlined in the sermon on the mount are the values of the King who is love: they are the roadmap to the Narrow Way; the same map that He says is impossible to follow. (Luke 18:27) The sermon on the mount is like a set of instructions on the principles of flight to people who don’t have wings. For three years Jesus taught an earthbound world how to fly, then through the cross He says ‘I know you have no wings. It’s alright: you can have mine,’ and “He gave us the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
And so we have the bookends of the gospels. At the beginning we have the principles of flight, a life that pleases God. At the end we have the instruction to love one another – because this is what pleases God – by using the wings that God has given us, with the promise that the Holy Spirit will remind us of the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Without them we cannot fly, and what pleases God is flight. This is the gospel of the Kingdom. Between the bookends is the demonstration of flight.
We have been sent to preach the same gospel. The question for us is this: is it the gospel that we are preaching? Because if we preach the sermon without the wings we give people religion, and if we preach the wings without the sermon we ignore the truths of repentance and the requirements of Love. Without both bookends the message does not stand and the books fall over. There is only one gospel of the Kingdom, and Jesus demonstrated His authority to preach it by the works that he performed (John 10:38). If we want to see the Holy Spirit confirming the word that we preach with “signs and wonders following,” (Mark 16:20) we need to preach the Word that we have been given.