Matthew 4: First Steps (2)
Pray Psalm 98.4-6
Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Sing to the LORD with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.
Sing with conviction Psalm 98.4-6.
(Duke Street: Come, Let Us Sing unto the Lord)
Raise to the Lord your loudest voice! Break forth and sing! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Praise, praise to You our God and King, with all our hearts and strength we bring!
Read Matthew 4.1-17; meditate on verse 17
1. What did Jesus begin to do when He returned to Galilee?
2. How was the message Jesus preached similar to that which John preached?
Matthew records the first words of public ministry spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ. His was a message of repentance and Good News: The Gospel of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God had come to earth in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. For now, that was a strictly local presence; wherever Jesus was, the Kingdom was, because Jesus is its King. But that would all change, and Jesus, by His life and teaching, was preparing His followers to receive, not just eternal life, but the Kingdom of God.
Jesus will begin to show us now what the Kingdom is like, and why it is such Good News – such great Good News that, following His example, we must seek every opportunity to proclaim it. Matthew summarizes the content of Jesus’ message, which reminds us very much of what John the Baptist preached. The Kingdom has come near, and repentance is the key to entering it. Those who were attracted by what Jesus preached and did, and who wanted to enter His Kingdom, must repent of all known sins, and maintain the discipline of repentance for as often as sin returns in their lives.
For this is the Kingdom of heaven – literally, the Kingdom which has its origins in heaven, which manifests the pure and holy character of heaven, and which extends as far as the heavens extend above and throughout the vast cosmos. The Gospel Jesus preached was not merely one of forgiveness and eternal life. It was that, but it was much, much more – as we shall see. The Gospel of the Kingdom comes with the intent of setting things right with God, of restoring the brokenness, corruption, ruin, and desolation of the sin-filled world, and of making all things new by the power of grace and truth. We are not preaching the same Gospel as Jesus unless we preach it as He did, requiring repentance as the entrance requirement and badge of citizenship, and looking for the healing of souls and all creation and culture.
We cannot construe the meaning of Jesus’ life and teaching in any other way. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a cosmic Gospel. “He comes to make His blessings flow/far as the curse is found…” And since the curse of the father of lies reaches to all aspects of the groaning creation (Rom. 8.20-22), the Gospel we believe must impel us, following the example of Jesus, to bring the healing power of grace and truth to everything in our lives.
1. Why is repentance so necessary a part of life in the Kingdom?
2. We would expect the Kingdom of heaven to be vastly different from all earthly kingdoms. In what ways?
3. Jesus proclaimed that the Kingdom of heaven had come near. What is our role in continuing that proclamation in our day?
“The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This refers to the blessedness of the heavenly kingdom, which God has prepared for the faithful. The message is to prepare yourselves by penance and by patience to receive the blessedness of the heavenly kingdom. Anonymous (no date), Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 6
Use me today, Lord, by my life and words, to live and proclaim Your Kingdom, as I…
Pray Psalm 98.1-3, 7-9.
Rejoice in the salvation of the Lord, and commit this day for making His Good News known to as many people as you can. Encourage your fellow believers, and talk with your unbelieving friends, keeping in mind that the Lord is coming one day to judge the earth and gather into His Kingdom all who love and serve Him.
Sing Psalm 98.1-3, 7-9.
Psalm 98.1-3, 7-9 (Duke Street: Come, Let Us Sing unto the Lord)
Come, let us sing unto the Lord new songs of praise with one accord!
Wonderful things our God has done: Jesus has our salvation won!
Now let the whole creation ‘round burst into song with joyous sound!
Jesus will come to judge the earth; let all proclaim His matchless worth!
T. M. Moore
We are pleased to offer Worship Guides for use in your family or small group. Each guide includes a complete service of worship, and they are free to download and share by clicking here. For a fuller exposition of the Gospel of the Kingdom, order a copy of our booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom (click here).
If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).