The Kingdom of God.
At the time of Jesus (as), the Jews expectantly awaited, just as they do today, the coming of their prophet-liberator-king-conqueror. This man, it was widely believed, would usher in a new era of both Godliness and Dominion; a Godly Dominion so to speak. And they were especially receptive to that message because at that time they lived under the suffocating shadow of Roman rule.
John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth were both Prophets of God sent to the Jews, living within the milieu of those times. John (as) was the first to preach the coming of that era, as it were, as the coming of the "Kingdom of God". Jesus(as) went one step further and preached of the imminence of the Kingdom of God. His main given task was to make people both ready and receptive to the Kingdom of God, so that when it came they would embrace it. At times he implied that he was the epotimization of it and that with him its appearance was being ushered in. Yet at other times he emphasized the nearness of the coming Kingdom of God, as if it were just around the corner, but not yet there. It is apparent that Jesus' mission to his people was in ernest, it is as if he worried that they would be left behind when the Kingdom of God eventually arrived. By this token it is enough to know that he loved his people dearly, and yet it is also evident that he foresaw that the Kingdom of God was not exclusively for the Children of Israel.
It is probably this most singular fact that caused the Jews to reject Jesus(as); the lack of exclusivity; for were the Godly not meant to be the inheritors of the Earth. And did not the Children of Israel meticulously observe the LAW, and venerate their books?
Aside from that, why did Jesus(as) not fight and conquer, as they expected him to do? Why didn't he liberate them from Roman hegemony? And why did he instead insist "to give to Caesar what is his, and give to GOD what is HIS!"?
He (as) was not what they wanted him to be. And that is why they denied him.
Therein is the dilemma for the Christians. They are heirs to the Jews, because Jesus(as) was essentially a Jewish Prophet. And yet the Jews rejected him, whilst the Christians believed in him.
All in all, it was an unfinished business.
What exactly is the Kingdom of God?
The Jews believed it would be an Earthly dominion. The Christians could not escape the fact that this did not materialize, and so they emphasize it being a Spiritual Kingdom.
The Church claims to be the realization of that spiritual kingdom on Earth. However it is constantly plagued by doubt over its role on Earth. Should it be as the Jews envisaged a temporal Kingdom, wielding both spiritual and temporal authority? Or simply concern itself with saving the souls of it's adherents, by keeping with the words of Jesus(as) when he declared "Give to Caesar what is his!"?
The problem of the Kingdom of God finds resonance within the Islamic heritage. But the Muslims, rightly being content with what God has given them, have probably never asked the question of where Jesus(as) left of and where Muhammad (saw) began.
This is a Prelude to the Perfection of Belief, coming next!
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