The Good News
What was Jesus' main teaching?
If you could take all of Jesus' teachings and boil them down to one central message, what would that message be?... love?...Forgiveness?...Charity?... Social Justice?
The truth is, all of these things were major parts of the message of Jesus but none of them were what Jesus was all about. In the book of Matthew there is one phrase that occurs at least 1.5 times per page, and a total of 44 times in the whole book. Jesus said it more than any other phrase or word in all His teachings..."The Kingdom of Heaven".
The Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven is the message Jesus came to bring to the world and the one thing He thought defined everything He was and came to do. So what is this Kingdom and who is the King of this Kingdom and what are we supposed to do now that this "new Kingdom" has come?
In the book of Isaiah there is a poem (Isaiah 52:7-10) about a messenger that brings good news to a group of people that had survived the destruction of Jerusalem. The nation of Israel had rebelled against God and followed their wickedness into destruction.
The city was in smoldering ruin after Babylon had attacked the nation and taken the remaining people into exile, or slavery in Babylon. There was now only a small group of Jews left in Jerusalem wondering where their God was who had promised He would return to His people and reign as a King of peace and justice.
A messenger is running towards the destroyed city shouting "Good News!"
And what is this news?...that the God of Israel "still reigns", and that He is going to bring His Kingdom of salvation, peace and joy.
Now let's fast forward 400ish years to Ancient Palestine and specifically Galilee where a man named Jesus is making an announcement...
"Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17b)
Jesus comes like the messenger in Isaiah bringing "the Good News of the Kingdom" (Matthew 4: 23), the promised Kingdom is here! This is an explosive message, this means that salvation, peace, and joy are here!
So what does this Kingdom look like? Well you are going to have to wait until Matthew chapter 5 for that, but for right now here in chapter 4 we see that the Kingdom is a call.
Jesus is calling His disciples (Matthew 4:18-22) to follow Him and submit themselves to His rule. To leave everything they've ever known and their way of doing things to submit to this new way of being human outlined in Matthew 5-7.
The truth is Jesus makes the same call to you and me today, to lay down our own Kingdoms and take up the ways of His Kingdom. Jesus interrupts our lives and our ways of thinking with some radical, upside down ideas in Matthew 5. These upside down ideas are the ways of the Kingdom and the call is to follow them.
So if that's what the Kingdom looks like then who is the King of this Kingdom?
Well throughout the book of Matthew we will begin to see that not only is Jesus the messenger bringing the Good News of the Kingdom...He is the King!
So what is our King like, and what does it look like when Jesus reigns?
Well in Matthew 4:23-25 Jesus begins walking around the forgotten area of Galilee and healing the sick and mending the broken. Jesus goes to the marginalized and the forgotten and extends grace and mercy, freeing them from the chains of disease and evil that gripped them for so long.
This is also what it looks like for Jesus to reign in our lives. He comes in and interrupts our old way of doing things in our kingdoms and invites us to live under His Kingdom and His reign. But if we do, and we submit to the reign of King Jesus we will find healing for the broken parts of us and grace and mercy far beyond our wildest dreams.
Jesus will eventually bring about His reign by sacrificing His life for His enemies and rising from the dead!
This is the Kingdom and this is what Jesus was all about...bringing the Good News that evil and death do not have the final rule and reign, that Jesus is King and that he wants to bring Good News of salvation to our broken and dead hearts!