Saturday, October 13, 2007

Announcing the Kingdom of God

Sometimes the Gospel writers use different events in the life of Jesus to indicate the same idea to the reader. I think Luke 4 uses the jubilee announcement of Jesus’ ministry to perform the same function Matthew 5 does with the Sermon on the Mount.

In Matthew, after being baptized by John in the Jordan and emerging unscathed from the Temptation in the wilderness, Jesus begins His ministry preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Matthew calls is “the gospel of the kingdom” (v. 23).

Then as the multitudes gather, He begins with the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The Sermon on the Mount is about the kingdom of heaven, and in verse 17, Jesus speaks of the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

In Luke, after Jesus is baptized and then tempted in the wilderness, He begins His ministry by preaching in the synagogues. On one particular Sabbath, His text was Isaiah 61, a reference to Jubilee as a foreshadowing of the coming of Messiah and His kingdom.
And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21)
Here is good news for the poor in spirit, healing and comfort for the brokenhearted and those who mourn, liberty for the captives and all who are oppressed, and the time of God’s favor and righteousness to be manifest on earth as in heaven. Jesus’ commentary is that this Scripture is now being fulfilled, and everyone understands Him to mean that it is fulfilled in Him.

Mark’s fast-paced Gospel presents the same message, short and sweet: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15)

In all three Gospels, there is fulfillment. The time is fulfilled; the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled; the Jubilee is fulfilled. They all speak of the kingdom, the rule and reign of God; they all are fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah; and they all find their ultimate fulfillment on earth — the will of God being done as it is in heaven.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.