Main Street UMC, Kernersville, NC

The Way, Week 3: Proclaiming the Kingdom – Matthew 4:17, 23-25, 5:1-10

PROCLAIMING THE KINGDOM
Matthew 4:17, 23-25, 5:1-10

INTRO:

17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

23 Jesus[a] went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news[b] of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all the sick, those who were afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he cured them.25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
-Matthew 4:17, 23-25, 5:1-10 NRSV

LET’S PRAY.

I. When a United States president is sworn in, the first thing he does is turn to the crowd standing there in front of the capital, and he gives his inaugural speech.

A. See if you can finish these sentences from great inaugural speeches:

• “The only thing we have to fear is…? fear itself.” — FDR

• “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask …? what you can do for your country.” –JFK

This one’s not as easy:

“With malice toward none, with charity for…? all”

– That one is from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address at the end of a long and bitter civil war

B. In his inaugural speech, the newly elected president says, “This is what my presidency is gonna be about”

1- Well, in Matthew 4, we have Jesus’ inaugural speech, where he says, “This is what my ministry is gonna be about.”

2- Matthew 4:17 —
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
–Matthew 1:17
(Kingdom of Heaven = another way of saying “Kingdom of God”)

C. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ ministry

• When Jesus teaches, he’s explaining the kingdom of God
• When Jesus does miracles he’s demonstrating the K of G
• When Jesus loves people, he’s building the K of G
II. So What is the Kingdom of God? Let me suggest three things.

(A) 1- A vision of the future.

1-Don’t raise your hand, but:
– How many of you have experienced pain at one time or another in your life?

– How many of you have been hurt by the actions and attitudes of other people?

– How many of you have lost someone you love to death?

– How many of you wonder why there are natural disasters like Tsunami’s, earthquakes, tornadoes?

– How many of you are tired of bad news about the economy, about ISIS, about Christians being kidnapped and beheaded?

The reason for all those things is that the kingdom of this world IS NOT the kingdom of our God

In the book of Revelation it shows a picture of the future. And there’s one point where the angels and the people in heaven are celebrating, and they shout:

“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.”
–Revelation 11:15

2- That’s a vision of the future – that’s what’s coming. But it’s not here yet.

For now, the kingdom of this world is a broken, fallen kingdom where horrible things happen.

The kingdom of this world is NOT the kingdom of our Lord. And nobody knew that better than Jesus’ own people:
They were poor
They were beat down
They were oppressed
They lived under the thumb of the cruel Roman Empire
They’d had more than their share of destruction, death, and despair

3- But they knew it wasn’t always gonna be this way. They had heard Scriptures like this one from the prophet Isaiah:

“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth – so wonderful that no one will even think about the old ones anymore…And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy…And the sound of weeping and crying will be heard no more.”

Isaiah 65:17-19, New Living Translation

Or like this one from Daniel:

…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; no one will ever conquer it. It will shatter all these [other] kingdoms into nothingness, but it will stand forever.
–Daniel 2:44, New Living Translation

And to people who had heard those Scriptures, Jesus comes and says,

“Hey y’all, guess what? That Kingdom of God thing you been readin’ about?

-Well, get ready, ‘cause it’s comin’!

The Kingdom of God is near!”

* The Kingdom of God is a vision of the future

(B) 2- A present reality.

1- Jesus explained the Kingdom of God by telling stories. He said the Kingdom of God is like…

• A tiny little seed that seems like nothing, but then it gets planted in a garden and before too long it has taken over the whole garden

• A woman baking some bread and she’s got this big lump of dough, and a little bit of yeast, but as she keeps kneading the dough, the yeast works all the way through it and changes the whole thing.

• A farmer who goes out to plant seeds, and he’s apparently pretty liberal with his seed, because some of it goes on the road, and some of it goes on hard, rocky soil, and some it falls in among weeds, and only a small portion of the seed ends up getting planted in good soil – but that seed produces a humongous crop.

In all those examples, you have something that starts small and unnoticed, but grows big and makes a huge impact:

– The present reality is a seed, but the future fulfillment is a huge plant
– The present reality is a bit of yeast, but the future fulfillment is a huge ball of dough that’s ready to be baked

2- Imagine a 15-year old girl:

– she is NOW a teenager – she is NOT YET an adult
– NOW she has her learner’s permit, so she can drive the car – but she does NOT YET have her license, so she can’t drive by herself

– NOW she is a student, but she does NOT YET have a full-time career

– NOW we see glimpses of the woman she’s going to become, even though she is NOT YET completely grown up.

3- This is how it is with the kingdom of God:

-it’s a vision of the future, but it’s also here among us NOW.

-It’s made up of people who have bowed the knee before Christ and declared him King.

Wherever you have people giving themselves to God with reckless abandon,
There you have the K of G

Wherever you have people loving each other as Christ loved us,
There you have the K of G

Wherever you have people seeing miraculous answers to prayer,
There you have the K of G

Wherever you have people empowered by the Holy Spirit, serving, giving and making a difference
There you have the K of G

* The Kingdom of God is a present reality

C- 3: A way of life.

1- Here’s where I think we Christians get it way wrong:

-We tend to think that the Kingdom of God is basically heaven
-We sometimes say, “God’s heavenly kingdom”
-It’s a place up there that we go when we die

So our only responsibility as Christians is to accept Jesus as our Savior and then wait until we die and go to “God’s heavenly kingdom”

2- But the thing is, we’re supposed to start living in the Kingdom NOW

-We’re not just supposed to talk about the Kingdom, we’re supposed to demonstrate the kingdom

-Not just proclaim it, but present it

3- We do that by living according to a completely different set of values from the world around us:

The world says:
“Be cool, confident, self-assured.”

But we say:
Blessed are the poor in spirit.

“The purpose of life is to be happy”
Blessed are those who mourn.

“If you wanna get ahead, be tough and aggressive!”
Blessed are the meek.

“You gotta be hungry for success!”
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for right relationships.

“Nice guys finish last!”
Blessed are the merciful.

“It’s only cheating if you get caught!”
Blessed are the pure in heart.

“Don’t get mad. Get even!”
Blessed are those who make peace.

“You gotta get people to like you.”
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

The kingdom of the world values money, power, and possessions:
– In the Kingdom of God we value giving, sacrifice, and unconditional love

The kingdom of the world exalts self
– In the Kingdom of God, we exalt Christ

* The kingdom of God is not just a place to go when we die – it’s a set of values, and a way of life that start right now

CONCLUSION: So here’s the question: Are you in?

A. Because this is so much more than just believing in Jesus –

• The Kingdom of God is a vision of the future that can give you hope now.
• It’s a present reality that you can experience now
• It’s a set of values and a way of life that starts now

B. So again, the question: Are you in?

Have you joined the Kingdom of God?
Have you made Jesus your king?
Are you following him?
Are you living by his values?

C. Remember, the kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ ministry

• When Jesus teaches, he’s explaining the kingdom of God
• When Jesus does miracles he’s demonstrating the K of G
• When Jesus loves people, he’s building the K of G

His inaugural speech —
The one that set the tone for his ministry
The one where he cast vision and called for action

His inaugural speech was this: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near”

Are you in?

LET’S BOW OUR HEADS.