From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
This is the message that Jesus “began to preach.” Notice that Matthew doesn’t make it sound like this was a one-time sermon. It was an ongoing message. It was a part of Jesus’ greatest hits. You might even say that this was his main sermon. And we’re told that Jesus started preaching this, “from that time.” If we look a few verses earlier, the time is a reference to the arrest of John the Baptist. In other words, once John’s ministry was over, Jesus’ ministry began. And notice how Matthew describes John’s preaching in the opening words of chapter 3. He says that John “came preaching” (not a one time message either) the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The exact same words! Do you think that maybe this is an important message?
Here we have two wildly popular preachers who each drew thousands of people with the very same message. Each of them were Rabbis with their own disciples and followers. Two people who made a huge stir in the religious and political power structures of the day because of the message that they preached. And their message was the very same, very powerful message. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
It was a very simple message. Repent! In other words, change your mind. Why? Because this heavenly kingdom is on its way to us. Clearly this was a massively influential message, because we are still talking about it 2000 years later, but it was also an incredibly dangerous message, because it got both of these men killed!
What made this message influential is the same thing that made it dangerous. This message wasn’t just about saying sorry, it was about a complete regime change. It was about a kingdom change. Therefore, if we are going to be people who do as Jesus did, by taking his message to those around us, we need to realize that this message of the kingdom is dangerous. It is dangerous because it is designed to usurp the current power structure in your life and replace it with Jesus. Has this message been dangerous in your life? If not, then it might not be the gospel. Has this message conquered you? Has your old kingdom been overthrown? Have you been so conquered that you need to surrender to Jesus as King? If so, then you are now enlisted as one of Jesus’ messengers. Your commission is: Wherever you go, bring the kingdom with you.