From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for
the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17).
Matthew begins his account of Christ’s public ministry by
placing the spotlight on the Lord Jesus as a preacher.
His ministry did not begin with the performing of miracles,
signs and wonders, though he had the power and authority to do such things.
It did not come with him leading a political movement. Thus,
the Lord Jesus will say to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John
It did not come with him establishing an army. Later in
Matthew, when the Lord Jesus is arrested and Peter draws a sword to defend him,
Christ will say to Peter, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they
that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt 26:52).
He did not come as a community organizer, trying to make
things just a little bit better for everyone.
He did not come as a social worker, as a psychologist, or as
a counselor, saying, “Let me help to soothe your troubled mind.”
He came as a preacher. He came to exercise the ministry of
the Word. To proclaim God’s Word has it had been revealed to man. What was the content of his preaching as Matthew
His first word was, “Repent….”
Christ’s first word to men was not, “You are OK just the way you
are, and you need to just love yourself and live your best life now.” No, his
first word was that you need to change. You need a change of heart that leads
to a change of mind and life.
His second word was, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The rule
and reign of God is present now in me and my ministry. He will tell his
disciples in Luke 17:21, “the kingdom of God is within you.” Heaven has broken
into earth, awaiting the day when God will be all in all.
You will notice that the Christ’s preaching seems to be exactly
what John preached (cf. Matt 3:1-2). The difference is that John was the
opening act and Christ was the main event. John said he baptized with water
unto repentance, but Christ would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire
(3:11). Christ would tell men not only to repent of their sin, but also to
believe in him. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
Christ still preaches to men through his Word and the ministry of
his servants, calling upon them to repent and to believe in him.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle