All Posts /

Jesus’ Favorite Subject

Jesus’ Favorite Subject

There’s something we’re all yearning for... and it’s about to happen.

So let’s talk about this “Kingdom of God” thing. It’s a phrase that freaks people out (“Is this a political or theocratic thing?”), but it’s also perhaps one of the rare terms that can be simultaneously alarming to some while being incredibly boring to others.

For a lot of church people, the Kingdom of God is a topic that doesn’t move the emotional needle. I think I understand why. I’ve noticed religious talk can become like wallpaper to me if it seems like it doesn’t relate to my daily life.

So what is it? The Kingdom of God is wherever the things God wants to get done get done.

When Jesus taught us how to pray, He told us to ask for more of it.

Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. ­— Matthew 6:10

We all have our own kingdoms. And sure, your kingdom, or my kingdom, might be a small sphere of influence, but we all have one. The Kingdom of God that Jesus described is stunning, surprisingly subtle, and the exact opposite of boring. It’s life-giving.

I think when we really get it, we go from being freaked out or bored by it to loving to talk about it. Jesus sure enjoyed it. In fact, it was Jesus’ favorite subject.

I tried to make this point when I was a guest speaker for a big gathering of high schoolers and faculty in a Christian school gym. In retrospect, I don’t think I did it very well. In retrospect, I see that perhaps I shouldn’t have said what I said quite the way I said it. Yes, in retrospect, I can see clearly now.

I asked them, “So what was Jesus’ favorite subject? What did He talk about more than anything else?”

Some brave kids hazarded some good guesses. “Love?” “Oppression?” “Hypocrisy?” “Money?” “Hell?”

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

“Wait: Nobody knows Jesus’ favorite subject that He talked about all the time?” I asked. And then I said that thing I maybe shouldn’t have said, now that I think about it: “What kind of ‘Christian’ school is this?”

In the ol’ rearview mirror, I probably shouldn’t have said that. Hindsight is 20/20, et cetera. I meant it as a joke, but... yeah... they were real nice people, I’m sure. Sorry I said that thing I said. My sense of humor is dry and odd. And the bluntness? I’m not above blaming the Asperger’s. In fact, I think I’ll do that right now: it was totally the Asperger’s.

But even though I didn’t say it quite right, and even though they never asked me back, it really is true: the Kingdom of God really was what Jesus was here to tell us about. He said that’s why He was sent, to “proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43). But few seem to know it.

Jesus kept trying to explain it to us. Over and over. He unpacked it by telling stories about it and comparing it to things we can understand.

The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed...
The Kingdom of God is like a pearl...
It’s like a man who holds a wedding feast...
It’s like some yeast that a woman took to mix with some flour...
He was not just giving us dry theological concepts. He was describing something, something worth giving everything for. It’s something worth falling in love with.

For Jesus, “The Kingdom is here!” isn’t just good news. It’s the good news.
It’s the gospel. It’s the whole point, and it’s a point I’m afraid we’re missing.



When God is in charge, healing happens. Chaos turns to beauty. A field of trash and ashes is reclaimed, and it becomes a place for the rejected and broken to dance.

  • This Kingdom is really, really good, and here’s my theory: we all want it, deep down, even people who won’t admit it and don’t even believe in it.

And here’s another of my weird theories — one indicated by goose bumps: we all get brief flashes of it in life, fleeting impressions that leave us moved or yearning for more. We may not even be able to explain why. There’s a German word for this, because they have a word for everything: It’s fernweh, which literally means “farsickness.”1 It’s feeling homesick for a place you’ve never been.

C. S. Lewis wrote about this desire for our own “far-off country.” He said he even felt shy talking about it, because it’s so deep within us it seems like we shouldn’t even name it. We’re not quite sure what the yearning means, or where it came from. We might be a little embarrassed by it.

But for some reason, he wrote, we do have this longing for something that’s never actually happened to us. It’s not enough to just relive something beautiful we’ve encountered in the past.

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was long- ing. These things — the beauty, the memory of our own past — are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.2

When a writer for Atlas Obscura asked readers what places evoke this sense of farsickness, a lot of people mentioned Irish coastlines or the highlands of Scotland. But many others responded with poetry, or fictional places like Lewis’s Narnia or Tolkien’s Middle-earth.3 (I would go with the Shire. I don’t even have to think about it. But that’s me.)

Good filmmakers, I believe, know exactly how to tap into this. They can combine sound and image to evoke this nostalgia for places we’ve not been. We tear up. We get goose bumps.

I believe this is part of our longing for our real home. It’s the Kingdom of God, where every tear is wiped away from our eyes. Where things are finally set right. Where everything sad becomes untrue. Where reunions happen.

We all want to go back to Eden. Even if our minds deny the idea of Eden, our souls simply can’t. Our souls are hungry for the Kingdom, to get back to the way things ought to be. Based on my observations, I’d say we humans are even obsessed with it.

We physically react to it.

Here’s a small example: I’m not a particularly emotional guy. I’m a little robotic. But show me one of those videos where a dad or mom returns from serving in the military and surprises a little girl or boy and... I can’t handle it. I recently saw one where Dad snuck into a classroom in his fatigues, and when his daughter opened her eyes, he was right there. She didn’t immediately hug him. She just sobbed and sobbed, overwhelmed and overjoyed, before finally throwing herself, limp, into his arms.

I almost can’t type now. Gets me every time.

It doesn’t even have to be a kid. Have you seen the “soldier reunited with dog” videos? The car door opens and the dog comes bounding out of the house in a tail-wagging frenzy? Yeah. I can’t handle those either. It’s too good.

Imagine that... multiplied. The Kingdom of God in its fullness, when people are reunited with those who have gone before. Once lost to us but now found. Together again. We all long for it.

People around the world watch the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. They see the nations walking in peace and a massive, diverse crowd joyfully celebrating. And all over the world, people get goose bumps.

When I was a kid, I watched our Olympic hockey team beat the Russians. It was an upset no one saw coming. Just a bunch of scrappy college kids, amateurs, against Russian pros. The crowd went wild. Everyone was in tears. We love upsets, and not just for our favorite teams. People love Cinderella stories in the NCAA basketball tournament each March.

When the impossible happens, the underdog wins? Goose bumps. There’s something about the last suddenly being elevated to first. The world turns upside down, which we intuit is really right side up. It’s another theme of the Kingdom of God. The humble are exalted.

There’s another sign there, I think, pointing to the place we’re nostalgic for.

I recently saw a video of a girl being able to hear for the first time. Shock. Laughter. Tears. And again: goose bumps. There’s just something about healing and restoration. As I say, healing is an advance trailer of Heaven, and so, I believe, are these other goose-bump moments. Just little glimpses ahead.

“The Kingdom is here,” Jesus said. And then He reached out... and people were healed. Life was set right. The way they were supposed to be. The way they were always supposed to be.

We can all feel it.

  1. Candice Gaukel Andrews, “‘Fernweh’: A Farsickness or Longing for Unseen Places,” Natural Habitat Adventures, May 8, 2018, -unseen-places.
  2. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2001), 30–31.
  3. Eric Grundhauser, “Have You Ever Felt Homesick for a Place You’ve Never Been?,” Atlas Obscura, February 27, 2018, www

Excerpted with permission from Life Is Hard. God Is Good. Let’s Dance. by Brant Hansen, copyright Brant Hansen.

* * * 

Your Turn

Do you feel that longing, that emotional ache for the land you’ve never been to? For Home? The Kingdom of God is far from a boring topic; it’s one we all seek even unknowingly. And, it is Jesus’ favorite subject! ~ Devotionals Daily