When we come to The Living Word of God today, we find Jesus embarking on his Earthly Ministry last week. We looked at Jesus preparation of ministry as he spent time fasting and praying in the wilderness and doing battle and winning over old ugly the devil. Now Jesus emerges from the Wilderness Victorious and focused on the mission the father has for him to do on Earth.
Matthew tells us that Jesus ministry begins as John the Baptist ministry is coming to an end with his arrest. John was arrested by Herod Antipas. That's effectively ending his ministry. You may remember from a previous sermon that when King Herod the Great died his two sons Philip and Antipas split his kingdom between them. And the reason for John arrest was simple. He spoke truth to power and power didn't like it that often happens and supposed to take in his brother Phillips wife away from him after divorcing his own wife. Now. This was clearly a violation of God's laws as stated in Leviticus 18 and 20 John being a prophet in the Priestly line. He called Antipas on his sin and he paid with his freedom.
I want you understand John did what was right, even though it cost him something. He proclaims the truth of God, even when it was unpopular and went against what people of influence wanted to do. Well this arrest set the stage for Jesus to begin his proclamation of the kingdom. Our text said that he made his home base and capernium a city on the trade route making his itinerant Ministry more productive and fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah said that those who were living in the darkness of sins moral and spiritual bankruptcy would see the Light of Christ among them.
Now, Jesus message with powerful simple and pretty straight to the point. Did you hear that when I was reading the text? Repent of your sins and turn to God for the Kingdom of Heaven is near no sugarcoating there. You said you need to repent God's kingdom is near Jesus is telling us that his kingdom. He speaking of his right there. The message of the kingdom is coming from the one who is Emmanuel God With Us the kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is present where it never and wherever Jesus is near. Now talking about a kingdom today seems a little out of place, even though we have the United Kingdom across the ocean here. It's not that much of a kingdom anymore since everyone seems to do what they want to do. Including Harry, right?
But still when we think about it, we think of the word Kingdom we often think of a king or a sovereign and a piece of land and surely that's what the people of Jesus day was or thinking about when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom. Many of the people of Jesus day. We're looking for such a team. They were looking for the king of Israel to once again rise in power under the god appointed Messiah. They wanted Jesus to be that Messiah to come in to chase out their oppressors and take over again, but Jesus isn't talking about a physical place. He's talking about a spiritual reality. The Kingdom of Heaven is made up of all those who trust in Jesus for salvation and come under his authority.
When we come under the authority of Jesus, we find the darkness and despair turn into light and hope for Jesus came into this world with a message that God is with us that God is with us in the person of Jesus Christ. This was true for the people who gathered around him during his Earthly Ministry, but it is also true for us.
God has come near to us in the person of Jesus the spirit of Jesus living and moving Among Us means that the darkness of sin need not pull us down. That helplessness and despair do not have to run our lives. A lot of people's lives are run by helplessness by despair but it doesn't have to be that way. The Kingdom of Heaven is with us as we experience Christ presence in our lives, but there is a pre wet prerequisites finding hope in Jesus you were when you were in school maybe in college and you had to have those prerequisites before you can take the next class. What's the same way with the kingdom of God?
But there's only one prerequisite here. It's not that you have to get everything right in your life is not that you have to be perfect. It's not that you have to be one of those at the church ceiling will hold up. Even if you walk in. We're glad ours done, right?
Repentance is the way to enter into the kingdom of God.
And what do we think of repentance? We tend to think of Simply admitting. We have done something wrong that we've sinned against God and asking for forgiveness.
Well, that's true. There is more to repentance than just say Lord. I'm sorry. I really messed it up again. True repentance is a turning to God with our whole selves confessing our sins and then committing to live our lives characterized by the Holiness and purity of God.
Repentance calls for a change in our actions a change in our relationship a change in our speed to change in our thoughts and attitudes and a change in our will
We turn our will over to him. The Apostle John says if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Our God is faithful. Notice it says that we are purifry from all unrighteousness. This is the call of God on the lives of those who wish to find light and hope and peace and the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is at the heart of the message of the church not repentance for repentance sake so we can get a few names on a decision card. But repentance for Freedom's sake. The people of Israel were in bondage to an occupying force of the Roman government. They were not fully able to live the way God would have them too and the way that they felt they wanted to because of the oppression of their occupation.
They understood freedom to mean no one interfering with them and their ability to fully live into the promises of God. We don't quite look at that way. Do we what do we talk about Freedom? We often have the idea that it's the ability to live any way. We choose a you're not the boss of me kind of attitude, right? You ever hear a kid say that.
You ever think it when someone's trying to tell you what to do? You're not the boss of me.
That's not really Freedom though.
Cuz oftentimes we realize someone is the boss of us. Well, we realized that our futile bickering doesn't really help.
And we become bound.
By disillusionment and despair
Freedom comes as we choose to follow Jesus Christ. As we choose to live with in his will and his purpose for our lives. Freedom in Christ means putting ourselves under the authority of someone who loves us so much that he gave his life for us. 1st John 5:3 says this is the love of God that we keep his Commandments and his Commandments are not burdensome.
I'm not talking about the old understanding of there anything that's enjoyable must be sinful.
When I was growing up in the church, which wineries I walked away for a Time anything that I enjoyed was something that I was doing wrong according to the church. We weren't supposed to dance we weren't supposed to play cards. We were supposed to go to movies and so on and so forth the list goes on and on to school I grew up in you were supposed to sign a paper every year that said you would not listen to rock and roll music.
So we didn't we listen to Motown.
We were dealing with the letter of the law that the spirit of the law.
That is not what I mean by freedom and Christ. That's not what I mean by following his Commandments. It's not what I mean by living in Holiness. Just a long list of don'ts.
What I mean is in Christ, he is giving us away to live a way for peace away for home a way for Joy away for the drama of life that causes so much pain to just pass away. To not affect us to not allow relationships just an absolutely box Us in. But instead to live in the joy and peace of knowing him.
That's the good news.
Jesus came to Proclaim that kind of freedom.
He demonstrates this by not just his teaching and his preaching but by also healing every disease and sickness among the people. Did you hear that man? They all came. Every kind of disease everything going on everyone came to him and he healed them. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of wholeness are text tells us that the news of Jesus spread all over the place as far as Syria and many many people came. They came for healing both spiritual and physical and a large crowd.