In my last post we looked at the first part of Jesus’ message as He began to preach and teach, beginning with repentance. I now want to look at the rest of Matthew 4:17, as Jesus began to preach the message of turning to God, for the Kingdom of heaven was near (at hand, within reach, obtainable).
I believe if Jesus had only one message to preach it would be a message of repentance and Kingdom living. In Matthew 4:17 we see Jesus’ message was primarily a declaration that God’s kingdom power, rule and reign was a present reality, not only something to be attained in the future. It is actually something to be embraced today!
Let’s take a look at Matthew 10:1, 5-8 to see what it says regarding Kingdom living:
Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness… 5 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. 7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received! (NLT).
Looking at the context here, it is clear that Christ’s followers are commissioned to preach the Kingdom of heaven, and furthermore that this message of the Kingdom is intended to be accompanied by God asserting his power against the forces of sin, sickness & Satan.
- Sin – the message of repentance
- Sickness – v1 – “heal every disease and sickness” v7 – “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy”
- Satan – v1 He “gave them authority to drive out evil spirits.” V8 – “drive out demons”
We further understand from Romans 14 what the Kingdom is, and what it is not…
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men” – Romans 14:17-18 (NIV).
What this tells me is that it is not a mundane kingdom as in what we eat or drink, or don’t eat and drink (Man-made rules). Rather, the clear-cut evidence that God truly is King of our lives and that His rule is dominant in our hearts is found (and even put on public display for all to see… or not see) in the way that we live our lives… demonstrating righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! What’s more, we actually get to enjoy this kind of lifestyle here on earth as we submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit!
Here’s the real deal… Kingdom living deals with motives. You see, because I have repented of my sin and turned to God, I now want to live in a way that is pleasing to God! Nobody has to prime my pump to get motivated or excitied about Jesus! It’s just the simple fact that I am in love with Him and desire to live for Him every day of my life! And because I love Him, I no longer want to partake of those things that I used to so eagerly desire. I am now free to live for Christ and to bring Him glory!
Would you join me in making this a part of your daily prayer life when you get up in the morning? Simply pray Matthew 6:10,
“Lord, may ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done [in my life] as it is in heaven!”