Daily D – Matthew 4:17
Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
With Easter only a few days behind us, we are reminded of Jesus’ famous last words (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). His first message is just as well known. He said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” These were also John the Baptizer’s words (3:2). These are also the words the disciples would soon declare (10:7).
You begin to get the idea that a decisive response is called for when it comes to acknowledging Jesus for who he is and what he is bringing about in the lives of men and women, boys and girls. People do not enter the Kingdom of God on little cat feet.
There are a number of words in the original languages of the New Testament translated into English as “preach.” The word used here is less of what a pastor does on Sunday morning in a church building and more of what a herald of old would do in the town square. The herald would deliver official pronouncements of some urgency. They were often about tax increases. Sound familiar?
It is interesting how many proclamations of Jesus and his followers delivered outside of church buildings and formal worship services. What would be different if church people talked more about Jesus outside of church buildings and worship services?
What does repentance look like? Simply stated, it is an alignment of our minds with God’s truth. It is an attunement of our hearts with God’s desires. We learn to see as God sees and to love as God loves. We choose to honor God in our behavior and to seek the benefit of others through our service.
Imagine for a moment how life would differ if you lived in the presence of God. How would your speech change? How would you alter your activity? What Jesus was saying is that this is how we should live now.
Let’s say it is Take Jesus to Work Day. Let’s play like he is with you, really with you, live and in person. How would your day go differently? What would other people see? They might say on the day after, “Boy, that was some turnaround in your life yesterday.” To turn around is what the word “repent” means.
When Jesus tells us to turn around, he does not mean we should keep turning. He wants us to do a 180, not a 360.
Notice Jesus did not point out specific items requiring repentance. Perhaps the list was too long to mention. Maybe each person knows his or her own besetting sins. There is a good chance each of us has something we need to step away from so that we can take a step toward God’s Kingdom rule and reign in our lives.
What empowers us to turn around, to decisively determine to move in the right direction? Jesus never gives directions without the necessary strength to do what he says.
Jesus said the Kingdom was coming. There is no kingdom without a king. Our king is King of Kings. He rules in power. He envelops us in his love. The Kingdom of Heaven is rich with God’s presence and rewarding with God’s peace. Who wouldn’t want to live this kind of life? Who wouldn’t step into the goodness and grace of Jesus?
I will step into the Kingdom by turning away from every lesser parade.
Our Father, I hereby adjust my sails to catch your wind and to journey with you wherever you go. Amen.
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Ezra 8:31, 32 On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.
Esther 6:1, 2 That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
Esther 4:14 “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”