From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.” Matthew 4:17 NIV
It doesn’t surprise me that Jesus would preach about repentance. After all, Jesus came so that He might give eternal life to all who would repent of their sins and receive His salvation through Him. Christ had a sole purpose in His incarnate appearance. He came to give life to a lost world. What surprises me is the placement of this verse within the gospel of Matthew. Right after Jesus was baptized and spent the 40 days and nights in the wilderness; when He hears that John the Baptist has been put into prison, Christ begins to preach repentance.
John the Baptist had basically one sermon that he delivered each day. “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” What would you think if that was your pastor’s sermon topic every week? What if that was the only Mustard Seed Thought I wrote? How long would you continue to subscribe?
When John the Baptist was no longer on the street, preaching repentance, Jesus picked up and continued to deliver the same message. Of course, Jesus had lots of other teachings. We have them recorded throughout the Gospels. But, a central theme was this: Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near!
What does that say to you and me today? Does it say we shouldn’t discuss any other subject? No. Does it mean we rethink our priorities? Maybe. You see, there are lots of good topics for daily living found throughout the Bible. We certainly need them. But, I think we cannot forget the central teaching of John the Baptist and Jesus. People need to hear “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near”.
Christ is going to return! The Bible tells us it is soon. I don’t know if that is today, next week, or a thousand years from now, but in my heart, I believe it is close. Aren’t we supposed to believe that? God wants us to love Him with all our heart, body, soul and mind. In order to do that we come to Him through repentance.
Our central message, and the central theme of our life, should be to encourage others, and ourselves, to “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.”