Matt. 4:17 Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
In an earlier article, I wrote, “…if we are wrong in our understanding of the theology of God, then all of our other doctrines are equally as wrong. The knowledge of God is fundamental and foundational to all other beliefs.”
I believe the same thing is true of our understanding of the kingdom of God and how Jesus fits into God’s plan for that kingdom.
If you have any experience in the Bible, you will know that the shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117 – just two short verses. Interestingly, the longest chapter in the Bible is also in the Psalms just two chapters later. Psalm 119 has 176 verses.
In the New Testament story of the ministry of Jesus as recorded by Matthew, Jesus’ shortest sermon was Matthew 4:17 – just nine words. The next chapter of Matthew, Chapter 5, begins the longest sermon of Jesus – just over 2500 words in the KJV.
Jesus’ first recorded sermon in Matthew was not original with Him. The people had heard John the Baptist preach the exact same sermon, almost word-for-word, many times over. (Matt. 3:2) However, when you think about it, where did John the Baptist get the sermon?
Recently, a deacon of a church with whom I interviewed challenged me on the fact that I used the same sermon on more than one occasion. Yet the Bible appears to show that Jesus often used the same sermon with some revisions. Just six verses later, Matthew recorded…
Matt. 4:23 Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom…
When Jesus commissioned his disciples to go throughout the land proclaiming the word of God, what was the sermon He instructed them to preach?
Matt. 10:7 …proclaim as you go, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Whether or not Jesus preached repentance every time He preached about the kingdom or whether He taught the disciples to encourage repentance in every sermon the Bible does not tell us. However, the Bible does tell us that the recurring theme of Jesus’ sermons and those of the disciples concerned the kingdom of God.
Because of the proximity of the two sermons, one commentator [i] said that this sermon in Matt. 4:17 is the introduction to and a summary of the Sermon on the Mount.
In His first sermon, Jesus’ proclaimed the kingdom. (Matt. 4:17) In His second sermon, Jesus explained the kingdom, having made reference to the kingdom nine times in the three chapters. (Matt. 5-7)
When Christ came to earth, He came, not to reveal Himself, but to reveal the Father and the kingdom of heaven to us. Jesus presents that very image in this first sermon when He mentions the “kingdom of heaven” – a term that is synonymous with the “kingdom of God.”
In this series of articles, we will look at the PERSONALITY of the Kingdom, the PROXIMITY of the Kingdom, the PRESENCE of the Kingdom, and the PRODUCTION of the Kingdom.
THE PERSONALITY OF THE KINGDOM
All of us have a kingdom – or a queendom – a realm that is our own, where our choice determines what happens. It is what defines us as a person or an individual. Our “kingdom” is simply “the range of our effective will.” Whatever we genuinely have the say over is in our kingdom. It is what consumes us in all of our plans and dreams. [ii]
God’s own “kingdom,” or “rule,” is the range of his effective will, where what He wants done is done. And that which consumes the Father is the Son.
A kingdom may refer to a place – the realm over which a king exercises his authority. Or it may be the people who belong to that realm and over whom the king exercises his authority. But in this case, the word kingdom refers to the power or the authority to rule – the sovereignty of the king.
The kingdom is the Son
Where the king is, there is the kingdom. That is why Jesus would say to the Pharisees in…
Luke 17:20, 21 The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed…behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.
Jesus is the revelation of the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one…The Father is in me and I am in the Father…He who has seen me has seen the Father…And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.” (John 10:30, 38; 14:9; 12:45)
When John the Baptist preached this text, the message was one of preparation. When Jesus preached it, the message was one of revelation.
For John, the message emphasized the promise that the kingdom of heaven was coming in the very near future. For Jesus, the message emphasized the presence of the kingdom of heaven in the flesh.
Jesus himself is the kingdom of God.
So when Jesus speaks about the kingdom, He is not simply talking about the realm over which He reigns (heaven and earth) or the people over whom He is Lord, but of the authority that is given Him to rule.
Matt. 28:18 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore, the kingdom is not just about a place or a people but about a Person, the power or authority He possessed, and the relationship we have with him.
Jesus is the Personality of the Kingdom of God.
To be continued…
[i] One of the primary sources for my blog is previous sermons. Unfortunately, I did not record all of the sources for things I used in my sermons. I will confess that everything I know I learned from someone else. I will write very little original material. I apologize in advance that I will now be able to document where I learned all that I know. I pray you will be forgiving. If you know the original source for something that I seem to be taking credit for, feel free to gracefully inform me and I will give proper attribution.
[ii] Willard, D. (1997). The Divine Conspiracy. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, p.21.