Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 4 2013 - Matthew 4:12-25 – The Good News of the Kingdom

Jesus began his ministry in Galilee, partly to avoid the attention of the Jewish authorities (which had resulted in John’s imprisonment), but also in fulfilment of Isaiah 9:1-2. The area around Galilee had frequently been invaded by foreign powers and had a very mixed population (hence the reference to “Galilee of the Gentiles”). It was an area viewed with suspicion by the authorities in Jerusalem – a place of darkness. It is to such a place that Jesus comes with the light of his good news.

And this “good news” concerns the kingdom. Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" (Matthew 4:17). Then, having recruited his first disciples, Matthew records that "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people" (4:23). These are just the first of dozens of references to the kingdom in Matthew's Gospel.

The kingdom has come near because Jesus has come. He is the Messiah, the King. He is the one who fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6-7:

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and for ever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Jesus’ miracles are signs of the kingdom, a kingdom of justice and righteousness, a government under which the world is put right. They are an assault upon the domain of Satan, sin and the curse. Christ the king will reign over the kingdoms of this world, not by offering worship to the devil (4:9), but by pushing back the boundaries of his domain. The healing of diseases, liberating of people from the power of the devil, feeding the hungry and even raising the dead, these are all anticipations of the day when the kingdom shall come in power, and sickness, pain, crying and death shall be no more. They anticipate a day when God's will shall be done on earth even as it is done in heaven. In Jesus the kingdom of heaven has drawn near.

And the door into the kingdom has now been flung open. This is the good news of the kingdom. It is open to all who will repent and receive the King. Repentance is a change of mind. But it is far more than a reorientation of a few opinions. It involves a radical new understanding of everything: of ourselves in all our brokenness and need; of the world in its brokenness and despair; of Jesus as the one who alone can meet us in our need and mend our brokenness. It involves a radical reorientation of our lives. We are called to follow Jesus and to live the life of the kingdom, a life built upon very different foundations from those of the kingdoms of this world with all their shallow splendour and broken promises. And we are called also to become agents of the kingdom, fishing for people, seeking to draw others to join us in following the King.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you have brought the light of your presence and purpose into the darkness of our world. Help me to follow you in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, not only in the words I speak but in every aspect of my life. By your grace and power, help me to shine with the glory of your presence and to be good news in a broken world.

Peter Misselbrook