The God Who Seeks
The interesting element in Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom is paralleled by a new element in his teaching about God, that God is the seeking God. While the God of the prophets was active in history, the God of Judaism of Jesus’ day had withdrawn from the evil world and was no longer redemptively working in history.
Jesus’ message of the Kingdom is that God not only will finally act but that God was now again acting redemptively in history. God had now entered history in a way and to a degree not known by the prophets. The fulfilment of the OT promises was now taking place; the messianic salvation was present and the Kingdom of God had come near. God was visiting his people.
In Jesus, God has taken the initiative to seek out the sinner, to bring the lost into the blessing of his reign. He was, in short, the seeking God. This great truth is set out in three parables in Luke 15. He said it was the divine purpose to search out the sheep that had strayed; to seek the coin that had been lost; to welcome the prodigal into the family even though he did not merit forgiveness.
In each parable there is the divine initiative: the shepherd searches for sheep; the woman sweeps the house for the coin; the father longs for the prodigal's return. These parables illustrate, not primarily the sinfulness of mankind but of the love and grace of God.
The God Who Invites
Jesus pictured the eschatological salvation in terms of a banquet or feast to which many guests were invited. To invite sinners to the Great Banquet was precisely Jesus' mission. He called people to repentance but the call was also an invitation.
Jesus’ demand for repentance was not merely a summons to men and women to forsake their sins and turn to God; it was rather a call to respond to the divine invitation and was conditioned by this invitation, which was itself nothing less than a gift of God's Kingdom.
God is inviting sinners into the messianic blessing and demanding a favourable response to his gracious offer. What they cannot do for themselves, however, he does for them …
He is the one who brings to people the blessing he promises.
The God Who Fathers
God is seeking and inviting sinners to submit to his reign so that he might be their Father. An inseparable relationship exists between the Fatherhood of God and the Kingdom of God. In the eschatological salvation, the righteous will enter into the Kingdom of the Father. The prayer "Our Father in Heaven . . . your Kingdom Come," shows that Kingship and Fatherhood are closely related. It is a blessing and a relationship that cannot be enjoyed by all people.
Fatherhood is a way of describing the covenant relationship between God and Israel. This relationship is not grounded in fallen creation, but was created by the divine initiative. When Israel became faithless, God's Fatherhood was limited to the faithful remnant of the righteous within Israel.
Also, Jesus never called anyone but his disciples children of God. People become children of God by recognising his messianic sonship. God seeks people because he wants to become their Father.
The God Who Judges
God remains a God of righteousness retribution to those who reject his gracious offer. His concern for the lost does not change his divine holiness into a benign kindliness. God is seeking love, but he is also holy love.