‘From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.”’
Matthew 4: 17 (and Matthew 3: 2)
Matthew 3-4 (Psalm 82)
Both John the Baptist and Jesus begin their ministry by calling people to “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near,” (3: 2, 4: 17). In doing so they are declaring God's priority and the absolute truth of our existence and purpose; to be in a relationship with the Father. In the same sentence they are clearly identifying the blockage to that relationship, our sin and denial of God; repentance (turning) is essential. Judgement and consequence are, unashamedly described; we are for or against God. The Triune God is present at Jesus’ baptism in which His identity and mission (ministry) is confirmed and affirmed by the Holy Spirit and God the Father. Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to complete His preparation for His ministry; Satan is defeated by faith and the Word of God. Jesus then begins His Kingdom based preaching. Such is His presence, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that the first disciples respond to His call to follow. The power of the Kingdom is further demonstrated by the healing of the sick and casting out of demons; the Kingdom rules over the physical and spiritual world.
Of interest to us, having just read the Old Testament, Matthew is keen to point out how both John and Jesus fulfil prophecies (3: 3, 4: 14-16).
The Kingdom of God, the King’s domain, is where we are meant to be. Today we are able to spiritually live within His domain in this world. On Christ’s return, we will be able to live fully within His Kingdom; HALLELUJAH! Entrance to His Kingdom, both now and for eternity, is through repentance for the forgiveness of sins and by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; it is a very clear and definite situation. The world, Satan, principalities and powers will lure us away from God’s Kingdom. Satan tempted Jesus in the physical (food), with regards His position (the Son of God) and in relation to His pride (glorifying self rather than God). Jesus’ faith coupled with His knowledge and use of God’s Word, empowered by the Holy Spirit ensured He overcame. We are called, like the disciples, to follow Jesus and live within the Kingdom. We are then called to share this truth in word and deed, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Knowing God’s Word, written and living, will enable us to overcome the temptations we may face and the principalities and powers that are opposed to God.
The Question of Application
Are you living in the wonder of God’s Kingdom? What physical, positional and pride based temptations are you facing; how might God’s Word empowered by the Holy Spirit help?
Most merciful God, we confess to you, before the whole company of heaven and one another, that we have sinned in thought, word and deed and in what we have failed to do. Forgive us our sins, heal us by your Spirit and raise us to new life in your Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen
King of Kings sung by St. Aidan’s (Nikita Labdon)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.