Our scripture for this week is Matthew 4:12-23.

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 4:17

The message Jesus brings sounds much like what John proclaimed earlier – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 4:17). It was a message that the people had not heard before then. Yes, prophets from the distant past had called them to repentance, but now something new is also being told to them – the kingdom of heaven has come near.

What did that mean to them? Some thought it was a reference to Jesus Himself. Isaiah had written “See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:19) and God was certainly trying to reach us in a new way through Jesus. Yet it means more than just His presence with us.

God had called Israel to a special relationship when He told them “You will be a nation of priests” (Exodus 19:6), giving them the task of sharing God with the world. Through Jesus they are called to go outside their cultural comfort level to reach those who are not part of their society. God’s call to us has not changed: we must repent and with His help share the love He has for all people, for His kingdom has indeed come near.

Loving Lord, we are often selfish and disobedient, going our own way instead of Your way. Put us back on the right path that we may be energetic in our work for Your kingdom. Amen.

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