One of the reasons I write is to help us see we can live the way Jesus proclaimed in the gospel of the kingdom of God. God our Father has created us to be to the praise of His glory. God our Father has created us to be to the praise of His glory. We can really be what God has made us and do our lives His way because of what God has done and is doing. By the Spirit, we can follow Jesus and adopt the Beatitudes. When we do, our attitudes and actions reflect kingdom relationship with Messiah Jesus and one another. Jesus laid down His life for us. He is the Lamb upon the throne. He is the Good Shepherd. He leads with grace and truth. He leaves it up to us to follow Him or not.
Jesus brought the gospel of the kingdom of God. He walked on this earth, gave us the example with His life and preached the kingdom from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry. He proclaimed much of the gospel of the kingdom in five central messages recorded in Mathew and asked His Father to send the Holy Spirit to help us get it.
Jesus exhorts and encourages His hearers, including us, to see the kingdom, orient our hearts to the kingdom, receive the blessing of the kingdom and do the works of the kingdom. These messages are core gospel of the kingdom scripture and with all God’s Word are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction unto righteousness.
“Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Both John the Baptist and Jesus introduced the gospel of the kingdom by exhorting their hearers to repent. “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17). What did that mean to the hearers? What does it mean to us?
I found a great explanation of repentance in a book written by Albert Schweitzer and published in German in 1905: The Mystery of the Kingdom of God—The secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and passion, A. & C. Black, LTD., London 1925. The words don’t flow as smooth as those originated in English and I don’t agree with everything he wrote but Schweitzer’s definition and explanation of repentance is excellent.
Jesus taught repentance as a preparation for the coming of the Kingdom. … It [repentance] is not merely a recovery which stands in retrospective relation with a sinful condition in the past, but also—it is a moral renewal in the prospect of the accomplishment of universal perfection in the future.
Schweitzer goes on to explain repentance in expectation of the coming kingdom is “moral renovation in the prospect of the Day of the Lord.” He presents an example from the following prophesy from Isaiah.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:16-17 RSV
Schweitzer explains further,
It is precisely this Old Testament conception of repentance, with its emphasis upon the new moral life, which one must have in mind in order to understand aright the Synoptical repentance. Both have a forward vision, both are dominated by the thought of a condition of perfection which God will bring to pass through the Judgment. This, in the Prophetic view, is the Day of the Lord; in the synoptic it is the dawn of the Kingdom. pages 94-97
I like Schweitzer’s insight. He does use some $40.00 dollar words but provides the additional meaning inherent in repentance—moral renewal. Both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant have a forward vision of perfection that motivates righteous behavior—repentance in expectation of the Kingdom. That insight will help us understand and apply Jesus’ Word.
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Just after John the Baptist was imprisoned; Jesus went up a mountain near the Lake of Galilee in early summer and taught His disciples and a multitude the relational character of the kingdom in what is called the Sermon on the Mount. This Sermon is one of the ways He fulfilled His mission to tell the poor the good news, to announce freedom to prisoners and sight to the blind, to free those who are broken down (Luke 4:18).
His audience was primarily Jews. They were poor in possessions and in spirit, prisoners, blind and broken down, far from God and His purpose for them. God had Moses announce their purpose at Mount Sinai: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to Me. And now, if you will listen closely to Me and keep My covenant, among all the nations you will be a treasure to Me although the whole world is mine. You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy people to Me. Tell Israel that” (Exodus 19:4-6). They were to be salt and light among all the nations.
Jesus reminded His audience of Jews of their mission, urged moral renewal and reaffirmed their hope for universal perfection in the future.
Five central gospel of the kingdom messages from Jesus
- The Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
- The commissioning, Jesus sends out the 12 (Matthew 10)
- 8 Parables of the Kingdom (Matthew 13)
- Interpersonal relationships (Matthew 18)
- Prophetic insight for preparation (Matthew 24-25)