From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Some brief observations:
- Jesus once again fulfills a messianic prophecy that was written 700 years before he came.
- I heard a preacher claim that Jesus spoke more about hell than he spoke about heaven. If that's true, he must have spoke about hell a lot because he spoke about heaven a lot. It will be interesting to track this over the coarse of this study.
- Repentance is a major theme of Jesus' ministry. Repent means to change one's mind especially in light of regret or remorse which as a result leads to a changed way in how one lives. Repent is used 34 times in the NT: 16 times in the Gospels (Matt-John), 12 times in Revelation (Jesus giving a vision to John), 5 times in Acts (Luke's recorded history of the early church) and 1 time in Paul's letters.
- Kingdom as in the Kingdom of God and/or Kingdom of Heaven is another major theme of Jesus' ministry. One's kingdom is the range of their effective will. Kingdom is used 162 times in the NT: 126 times in the Gospels (Matt-John), 9 times in Revelation (Jesus giving a vision to John), 8 times in Acts (Luke's recorded history of the early church) and 19 times in various letters to the church.
But, for those who believe that Jesus is the only Son of God who has been with God from before the beginning, this is a message that cannot be ignored. So, how is our thinking wrong? And what are we to turn our thinking to?
The answer is contained in that short simple thesis sentence that should be the thesis sentence to all who have been asked to proclaim the good news of Jesus. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." We need to change our way of thinking about how we view our lives and the world we live in because the kingdom of heaven is near. The old way of thinking that we or someone else are the lord of our own lives and destinies is wrong. I am not the king of my life. He is.
The error of our thinking is demonstrated in what we will do to preserve our own kingdom. From Jesus' earliest time among us, we see the lengths people will go to preserve their own kingdom. When King Herod learned that "the King of the Jews" was born, he first tried to use people with strong knowledge of the prophecies of God and then he killed innocent children simply to preserve his own kingdom.
Throughout the coarse of Jesus' life and ministry, we will learn who is willing to welcome and live under the kingdom of heaven and who will do whatever it takes to preserve their own kingdom. What have we been willing to do in order to preserve our own kingdom? What harm have we done to others in order to preserve our own kingdom? Do we trust the news that the kingdom of heaven is near is good news?