Today’s devotion from Matthew 4.This well known chapter contains several memorable events. As I read, I was having difficulty narrowing the decision on where to focus my attention for the devotion. The temptation? The launching of His ministry? The calling of His first disciples? With so many options, where would I focus? That’s when I noticed something interesting that I haven’t seen before. There are two statements that caught my eye. First, when Jesus began His ministry His message was simple, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17, CSB) Matthew doesn’t just give us this statement. He includes a more generic message, too. Of Jesus’ general preaching we read, “Now Jesus began to go all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” (Matthew 4:23, CSB)
In each statement of preaching, Jesus emphasizes the Kingdom. When we read His sermon, we are told that the people are to repent because the Kingdom of heaven has come near. I’ve always read this from the perspective of warning. The Kingdom has come near, so get it straight. The Kingdom has come near, so repent or else. That was the concept I had in my mind.
However, when we see the general sermon related, it is very clear that Jesus’ message was not a warning, but a blessing. Jesus is focusing on the good news of the Kingdom. Could it be that Jesus is urging repentance, not because punishment could occur, but because something better is right in front of you?
Jesus is better.
This is the message to a broken world. It isn’t that we need to stop being broken before we’re punished for that brokenness. The point is that we need to stop pursuing the broken things around us because the best thing is right in front of us. That’s the good news of the Kingdom that should cause us to repent, casting aside our selfish and self-serving attitudes, and to pursue with all our might that good news that has come near.