Matthew 4:12-17: The Kingdom of Heaven
January 8, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The arrest of John had some impact on Jesus, in that hearing of his arrest “he withdrew into Galilee” (4:12). Perhaps he withdrew to pray, or re-gather for the next great stage of his ministry now that John, his forerunner, had been arrested. At any rate, he also then lived in an area that meant that Isaiah’s great prophecy, Isaiah chapter 9, would be more precisely fulfilled. And from that time on, he began to preach, as his core message and overall theme, the coming of the kingdom of heaven: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (4:17).
The kingdom of heaven was at hand for Jesus was at hand. The King was there, and his kingdom was coming. It would be proclaimed by Jesus, established through the great work of his on the cross, preached to the nations, and finally culminated in his return. He has come, and he is to come again.
It is encouraging to realize that even a devastating event like the arrest of John was utilized by God for the fulfillment of his prophetic plans. And this passage also calls us to focus on this core message of Jesus, the kingdom, his rule, the blessings of his rule that are also prophesied in that great chapter 9 of Isaiah.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:7).
This was the background to his message, that of the kingdom that was coming, or “at hand,” in his own person, and through his ministry and proclaimed in his preaching. It is in him, and through faith in him that:
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2, 42:7; Matthew 4:16).
Whatever the darkness that you are facing today, would you then receive the “gospel of the kingdom,” submit to Christ’s rule, and therefore have his light shine on you? Perhaps it is allowing him to have his way. “Thy will be done.” Perhaps it is repenting of some known sin. Perhaps it is seeking first his kingdom, putting his kingdom priorities before yours and before anyone else’s—and therefore entrusting your life to his and receiving the blessing of all these other things being provided for as God in his wisdom determines, and having the light of life, even in the shadow of death, shine on you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."