March 21, 2022 – Monday
Matthew 4:17 NIV
17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Do you find it interesting as I do that Jesus’ first word when He began to preach was Repent? Of course, you may be wondering about context as the verse reads, From that time on Jesus began to preach. From what time on?
Looking a verses 13-16 we will find the answer to the latter question “from what time,” 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” And that was from Isaiah 9:1-2.
By this time John the Baptist has been imprisoned by Herod Antipas (v12), for condemning the affair Herod Antipas was having with Herodias and eventually marrying her even though she was the wife of his half-brother Phillip. This did no phase Jesus as He returns to Galilee, the center of Herod Antipas’ territory, where he makes Capernaum His center of activity for His ministry while in Galilee.
A point of clarification, Jesus had preached before, both to Jews and Samaritans as seen in John 4:40-45, but from this time he began to preach publicly and statedly, and to insist on the same doctrine that John had done: and with good reason, for the repentance which John taught, still was and ever will be, the necessary preparation for that inward kingdom of heaven (Benson Commentary).
The large Gentile presence in the region resulted in darkness and hopelessness for the Jews there who desperately desired deliverance. It is interesting they were the first to see the great light of Jesus and His message of deliverance. And what was His message? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near, exactly the same as John the Baptist’s earlier in 3:1-2 which was discussed here. There I quoted David Guzik who wrote, John’s message was a call to repentance. Some people think that repentance is mostly about feelings, especially feeling sorry for your sin. It is wonderful to feel sorry about your sin, but repent isn’t a “feelings” word. It is an action word. John told his listeners to make a change of the mind, not merely to feel sorry for what they had done. Repentance speaks of a change of direction, not a sorrow in the heart.
That Jesus used the same words as John the Baptist showed the great agreement between them as they not only preached the same doctrine, but in the very same words! With John, we can say the message came in the abstract, but then with Jesus it came in a very certain form.
Bottom Line: Without repentance, there is no salvation. And as John noted earlier real repentance will have fruit as a result of the repentance.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, It is wonderful that Your word shows John the Baptist and Jesus in such great agreement about the need for repentance to enter the kingdom of heaven. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton