A sense of imminent arrival of the kingdom loomed over Jesus’ ministry, and we are not fair to the Gospel texts if we ignore that looming. Here is a text (Luke 19:11) that illustrates the sense of anticipation:
11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
1. What was the “this” they were “listening to”? The Zacchaeus episode and Jesus’ teaching at his home. “Today” Jesus said that “salvation” had come to his house.
2. This excited his audience: “Well, if such persons as Zacchaeus are entering into God’s people then the kingdom of God must be round the corner.
3. Jesus’ response to this point: the parable of the ten minas (Luke 19:12-27).
4. The point of the parable? The king will be gone for awhile. During the time his true servants will develop what he gives them the responsibility to do. That is, they are to invest the money he gives them so that it makes money while he is gone.
5. So, Jesus excited a sense of imminence but the kingdom of God was (really) not imminent.
What did it mean?
I resort, as I always do, to the hope of the Davidic dynasty. That is what I think these folks thought was about to arrive. We see this in Luke 1 as well.