Matthew 4:12-25 (ESV)
Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.
“Kingdom of Heaven”
The phrase “kingdom of heaven” appears 31 times in the English Standard Version (ESV) New Testament – all of which are in the Gospel of Matthew. It first appears in Matthew 3:2 with John the Baptist preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It next appears in Matthew 4:17 when Jesus, after he was tempted by the devil, begins His preaching ministry saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Later in the same chapter, Jesus “went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people” (Matthew 4:23).
“Kingdom of God” is used interchangeably with “kingdom of heaven” and is used 67 times in the New Testament, five times in Matthew’s Gospel.
If this was the message John the Baptist was preaching as he was preparing the way for Jesus, and if this was the first message Jesus preached and continued to proclaim frequently throughout the Gospels, and if it’s also used throughout Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians and 2 Thessalonians, it must be important, right?
It’s so important that in Matthew 24:14 Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” If this is the message followers of Christ are supposed to proclaim throughout the world as a testimony to all nations before “the end,” what exactly is the gospel of the kingdom?
The word “gospel” means good news.
The term “kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God” means the realm or domain ruled by God where He reigns as Sovereign King. The word “kingdom” is used throughout the New Testament as the rule of Christ in the hearts of believers but it also refers to the time when Jesus Christ will return and reign on earth as King.
So the “gospel of the kingdom of heaven” is the good news that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save sinners from the impending judgement of a Holy God. How? Through repentance, redemption and the restoration of all who believe by grace through faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and who receive Him as their Lord and Savior. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
THIS IS AMAZING NEWS!
Without Jesus Christ, we are left to ourselves not only in habitual, perpetual and enslaving sin in this life, but even worse, we will be condemned for our sin eternally when we die.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he [God] made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Romans 3:21-22 says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…”
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Friend, perhaps for you this isn’t “good news” at all because you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe you hate God or you don’t even believe He exists and you want nothing to do with any of this stuff? Or maybe you don’t think you’re that bad when you compare yourself to other people, and you assume God will show you mercy?
I remember what it was like to not want anything to do with God, Christians or church. I thought all this “religious stuff” was ridiculous. I certainly didn’t want to stop doing all the things I was doing just because “God said so!”
1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is folly [foolishness] to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” John 3:20 says ,”For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”
Do you realize everything you have done will be exposed before God when you die? What will you say when you are judged by God for your sin? Sadly, it will be too late for you and a flaming fire will take “vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
For those who are punished with everlasting destruction it will be much worse than just bad news . . . it will be a nightmare that will never end!
John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Loved one, does the wrath of God remain on you because you do not believe in Jesus Christ? Is this news “bad news” to you right now? If it is, I have some GOOD NEWS for you!
John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Jesus said in John 3:3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” How can you be born again?
Turn from your life of sin and unbelief and turn to the mercy and love of God found only in His Son, Jesus Christ. Confess your sins before God and cry out for forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If you do not repent and turn to Christ, you will “go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). Run from the judgement that awaits you into the everlasting love of God as a welcomed child – not because you are good enough, but because you realize that you’re not and you need Jesus to save you.
Come to Him and be saved!
I pray, dear Father, for anyone who is reading this who will be condemned to hell and cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth if they do not turn from their sin and unbelief and put their faith in the only One who can save them from this judgement, Jesus Christ. I also pray for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, that we would proclaim the gospel of the kingdom of heaven as the amazingly Good News that it is and not teach a different gospel that leads people astray, either out of ignorance or because it’s easier or we feel more comfortable. Give us the courage we need in the power of your Spirit to make disciples and teach people all that you have commanded. It’s all for your sake and for your glory, Amen!
Thank you for reading my Daily Bible Journal!
Reading, reflecting and writing from the Bible has so radically impacted my life in Christ, it’s as if I’ve been on auto-pilot when reading the Bible in the past. There’s something about “sitting with the text” and through prayerful reflection, sharing what comes to mind. Because I’m posting online for others to read, I consider my words carefully and try to be clear and accurate.
This daily process enhances my understanding of God’s Word and embeds it into my conscience. It literally gets “hidden in my heart!”
I hope this encourages others to be in God’s Word every day.
For God’s Glory,