Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
When Jesus began His earthly ministry, the very first thing He announced was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
What did Jesus mean that the kingdom was ‘at hand’?
Dear friend, this dramatic and profound declaration was Jesus announcing the glorious arrival of God’s kingdom here on earth! It was an announcement that completely changed the world.
Following His announcement, the first thing Jesus did to kick off His earthly ministry was to preach what we now call the Sermon on the Mount.
His powerful message begins with these life-changing and beautiful words:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:3-12)
Jesus’ introduction to His sermon has been titled “The Beatitudes”, but what exactly are they? First things first, they are…
The Declaration of the Kingdom
The Sermon on the Mount is sometimes thought of as Jesus’ ‘Declaration of the Kingdom’.
Just as the American Revolutionaries had their ‘Declaration of Independence’, Jesus’ message is essentially His declaration about what His kingdom is all about.
Dear friend, the Beatitudes are our very first introduction to the glorious nature of God’s kingdom!
And so, what the Beatitudes reveal to us are God’s kingdom values, its ethics, its culture, and its heartbeat. This is God’s kingdom DNA, my dear friend – His very being is woven into His kingdom.
Jumping back a bit in time, I wonder how many people agreed with the Declaration of Independence when it was first announced. I wonder how many people objected to it, or to parts of it… Perhaps it was a surprising thing for people to hear. Or perhaps it made a lot of sense to them.
I wonder the same thing for the Beatitudes and Jesus’ sermon. How many of His disciples and of those who heard Him preach questioned this kingdom introduction?
I wonder how many were shocked or surprised at the topsy-turvy nature of it…
And yet, this is God’s kingdom!
We will be diving into each Beatitude over the next week, but for today, as you read over them again, are there any which surprise you or shock you? Are there any which don’t make sense to you?
Dear friend, I invite you to journal with the Lord about this today in preparation for what we will learn about His glorious kingdom culture in the days to come.
Have a read through Matthew 5:2-12. Do any of the Beatitudes surprise or shock you, or which don’t make sense to you?
- Blessed are the poor in heart, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are meek, for they will inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Lord Jesus, Thank You for this beautiful and powerful sermon which describes Your kingdom’s culture. I pray that, over the next few days, You would open my eyes to see just how glorious Your kingdom is. I pray that You would help me to understand more about the nature of Your kingdom, and what my role as Your kingdom citizen is.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Pray this prayer over one of your Christian friends today.