“Emmanuel’s Kingdom – Part 1” – Matthew 4:23-25

November 2nd, 2014

Matthew 4:23-25

“Emmanuel’s Kingdom – Pt 1”


Meditation/Preparation: Look at the world we have created by listening to Satan and his lies.  Imagine the world perfect, as God created it and as it will again one day be when we follow Jesus.  Any questions?


Bible Memory Verses for the Week:   The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. — 1 John 3:8b


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. — John 10:10


Background Information:

  • If you open to the map in the back of your Bible and look at what is described here, you’ll see that Matthew is doing something very interesting. Here the whole land of Israel is covered.  We have Galilee in the northwest, the Decapolis in the northeast, Jerusalem and Judea in the southwest, and finally “beyond the Jordan,” in the southeast.  I don’t want to make too much of this.  However, since Matthew’s mind is so saturated with the OT, especially in the first four chapters of his Gospel, I deduce that he is using all this geography to depict Jesus as a new Joshua.  It’s as if he wants us to picture a new Joshua (“Jesus” is Greek for the Hebrew name “Joshua”) coming to reconquer the promised land and to rule it, to usher in a new a better kingdom, a heavenly kingdom (v. 17), drawing Jews from the north and south and east and west.  (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 91-92)
  • We see the type of book he (Matthew) intends to write. It is not a mere chronological account of the life of Jesus but a presentation of the great facts which reveal Jesus as the Messiah, yet all are recorded in due chronological order.  The chronology only serves, it does not govern.  (R.C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, 178)
  • (v. 23) Synagogues were established during the Exile to give Jews places to assemble and worship because they couldn’t go to the temple. Synagogues later became centers for teaching and preaching.  Most towns that had ten or more Jewish families had a synagogue.  The building served as a religious gathering place on the Sabbath and as a school during the week.  The leader of the synagogue was more an administrator than a preacher.  His job was to invite rabbis to teach and preach.  In the synagogue, there were two types of messages: (1) exposition or teaching–done while the leader sat; (2) exhortation or preaching–done while the leader stood.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 70-71)
  • (v. 23) During the Sabbath services, sections of the Torah (law) and the prophets were read. That was followed by various prayers, singing, and responses.  Then a text of Scripture would be expounded, possibly following the pattern begun by Ezra after the return from Babylon (see Neh 8:1-8).  Often visiting dignitaries or rabbis would be given the honor of expounding Scripture, a practice of which both Jesus and Paul took advantage on numerous occasions (see Lk 4:16-17; Acts 13:15-16).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 123)
  • (v. 23) The president of the synagogue presided over the arrangements for the service. Any distinguished stranger could be asked to give the address, and anyone with a message to give might volunteer to give it; and, if the ruler or president of the synagogue judged him to be a fit person to speak, he was allowed to speak.  Thus, at the beginning, the door of the synagogue and the pulpit of the synagogue were open to Jesus.  He began in the synagogue because it was there he would find the most sincerely religious people of his day, and the way to speak to them was open to him.  After the address there came a time for talk, and questions, and discussion.  The synagogue was the ideal place in which to get a new teaching across to the people.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 80-81)
  • (v. 23) This is Matthew’s first us of euangelion, “good news.” (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 150)  
  • (v. 23) Matthew uses the noun “gospel” (euangelion) only four times, and three of them occur in the phrase “the gospel of the kingdom,” found only in Matthew. The real “good news” is that the age of the kingdom of God has finally dawned in the ministry of Jesus.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 181)
  • (v. 23) The kingdom that Jesus announced was the long-awaited arrival of the God who would act with sovereign power in human affairs. The healing activity of Jesus was a visible demonstration that God’s kingdom had drawn near.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 34)
  • (v. 24) The Roman imperial province of Syria included not only the Syria (Aram) of the OT but also Palestine (Syria Palestina); the Herodian rulers and the prefect of Judea, as well as the cities of the Decapolis, were subject to the overall authority of the legate of Syria. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 151)
  • These were spiritually dark regions, but the Light had come and the Holy Spirit was drawing people from these diverse dark places to Jesus. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 68)


The questions to be answered are . . . Who is Jesus?  So what?   Would you vote for Him?


Answer: So far, Matthew has told us that Jesus is son of David (1:1), son of Abraham (1:1), the Christ (1:17), the biological product of the human Mary and God the Holy Spirit (1:18), the Savior of His people from their sins (1:21), Immanuel (1:23), King of the Jews (2:2), Shepherd of Israel (2:6), God’s Son (2:15), a Nazarene {persecuted one} (2:23), the Messiah (3:1-17), The One who will immerse you in and purify you with fire (3:11); The great Judge of the ages (3:12), the One who would fulfill ALL righteousness (3:15), the One in Whom God is “Well pleased” (3:17), and the Light of the World (4:16).   And, we now know that Jesus has made us the unbelievable offer that all that He is can be ours if by faith we would come into Christ.  (Jn 1:12; Rom 8:1, 14-17; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 1:20-21; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Gal 3:26-4:7; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:6-7; Phil 3:9; 4:19; Col 1:28; Col 2:9-10; 1 Jn 3:1-2)


The Word for the Day is . . . Keynote


Keynote= 1.  The first or fundamental note on a scale.  2.  The fundamental or central fact.


The kingdom of God always appears upside down to the human perspective.  We think it’s strange to die in order to live, or to give in order to receive, or to serve in order to lead.  Solomon captures the perpetual enigma of our looking-glass values just as Jesus describes them in the Sermon on the Mount.  He insists we should embrace sorrow over laughter, rebukes over praise, the long way instead of the short, and today instead of yesterday.

The truth is that it’s not the kingdom of God that is upside down–it’s the world.  It’s not the Word of God that turns life inside out–it’s the world that has reversed all the equations that God designed for our lives.   (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 189)


What is Matthew saying here at the end of chapter 4 of his Gospel?:

I-  King Jesus proclaims, explains and demonstrates all that God called Him to be.  (Mt 4:23-24; 9:35; Heb 2:3-4)


These miracles are meant to be signs of our Lord’s skill as a spiritual physician.  No physical disease was incurable by him; he has the power to cure every ailment of our souls.  There is no broken heart that he cannot heal; there is no wounded conscience that he cannot cure.  Fallen, crushed, bruised, plague-stricken as we all are by sin, Jesus by his blood and Spirit can make us whole.  Only let us ask him.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 22)


Our Lord’s miracles are told by units; they seem to have been wrought by scores.  These early ones were not only attestations of His claim to be the King, but illustrations of the nature of His kingdom.  He had conquered and bound the strong man, and now He was “spoiling his house.”  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 97)


The tangible evidence was thus presented that in Jesus the kingdom with all its heavenly blessedness was actually present.  (R.C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, 173-74)


(i) He came proclaiming the gospel, or, as the A.V. and R.S.V. have it, he came preaching.  Now, as we have already seen, preaching is the proclamation of certainties.  Therefore, Jesus came to defeat men’s ignorance.  He came to tell them the truth about God, to tell them that which by themselves they could never have found out.  He came to put an end to guessing and to groping, and to show men what God is like.

(ii) He came teaching in the synagogues.  What is the difference between teaching and preaching?  Preaching is the uncompromising proclamation of certainties; teaching is the explanation of the meaning and the significance of them.  Therefore, Jesus came to defeat men’s misunderstandings.  There are times when men know the truth and misinterpret it.  They know the truth and draw the wrong conclusions from it.  Jesus came to tell men the meaning of true religion.

(iii) He came healing all those who had need of healing.  That is to say, Jesus came to defeat men’s pain.  The important thing about Jesus is that he was not satisfied with simply telling men the truth in words; he came to turn that truth into deeds.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 82-83)


The first type of malady was that suffered by demoniacs, those whose afflictions were caused by demons.  It is clear from Scripture, especially the NT, that many physical and mental afflictions are caused directly by Satan through the operation of his demons.  Chapters 9, 12, and 17 of Matthew, and chapters 9 of Mark and 13 of Luke give abundant evidence of demon-related afflictions.  The ability to cast out demons is often referred to as the gift of miracles (literally, “powers”; 1 Cor 12:10, 28-29), the divine power given specifically to combat the demonic powers of darkness (see Lk 9:1; 10:17-19; Acts 8:6-7; cf. Eph 6:12).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 127)


There was no kind of illness, the evangelist suggests, that Jesus failed to cure; and among the numerous patients that were brought to Him were those tormented by the most acute forms of physical and mental derangements–demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics.  (R.V.G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, 58)


The kingdom blessings promised by Isa 35:5-6, due for fulfillment in the future kingdom, here became the credentials of the King in His first coming.  (John F. Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, 39)


“It may be doubted whether we have an adequate notion of the immense number of Christ’s miracles.  Those recorded are but a small proportion of those done.  These early ones were illustrations of the nature of His Kingdom.  They were His first gifts to His subjects.  (Alfred Plummer, Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, 51)


No type or kind of disease, and no case, whatever its stage of development, did Jesus leave unhealed.  And this healing was always perfect restoration to health in an instant by word or by touch or by both.  (R.C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, 174)


Christ’s healing miracles had a threefold significance: a. they confirmed his message (Jn 14:11); b. they showed that he was indeed the Messiah of prophecy (Isa 35:5; 53:4, 5; 61:1; Mt 11:2-6); and c. they proved that in the concept “kingdom” includes blessings for the body as well as for the soul.  The Gospels everywhere establish a very close connection between the concepts kingdom and miracles (Mt 9:35; 10:7, 8; 12:28; Lk 9:1, 2; and cf. also Acts 8:6, 7, 12).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 250)


Particular mention is made of three groups:  demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics. …For the present it is only necessary to point out that demoniacs heads the list, and very properly, for demon-possession was considered the cause of various other afflictions (9:33; 12:22; 17:15, 18; Mk 9:35; Lk 13:10-12, 16).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 251)


It is evident, therefore, that the Son of God was going forth to war.  He was destroying the works of the devil, teaching and preaching, casting out demons and healing sicknesses by the power of the Spirit, thus healing both soul and body, and more and more establishing the kingdom of God on earth (Mt 12:28).  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 251)


One of the ways in which Jesus demonstrated His divine character and power was through miracles of healing, which served as messianic credentials.  John was especially concerned with those credentials, and his gospel features them.  He makes it clear that “many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:30-31).  Matthew also confirms that through His mighty works Jesus presented Himself as the Messiah, the great coming King.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 121)


He was the very Son of God.  Apart from that central truth everything else about Him would be of little consequence.  It would be of absolutely no consequence as far as salvation is concerned.  But in light of that truth, everything about Him is of supreme significance.  What He said was the Word of God, and what He did was the work of God.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 121-22)


Matthew focuses both on Jesus’ words and His works as, in 4:23-25, he introduces His ministry of teaching, preaching, and healing.  He has already demonstrated that Jesus came at the right time and place and with the right message (4:12-17), and that for His work He chose the right partners (vv. 18-22).  Now he shows that He came with the right plan–to establish His deity by His words and His works.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 122)


The healings of various diseases among the people further attest the kingdom’s presence and advance (cf. 11:2-6; Isa 35:5-6).  Walvoord (p. 39) relegates these “kingdom blessings…due for fulfillment in the future kingdom” to the status of mere “credentials of the King”; but if the kingdom blessings are present, then the kingdom too must have broken in, even if not yet in the splendor of its consummation (cf. Rv 21:3-5).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 121)


The second group that Jesus healed were epileptics. …From other biblical references, such as Mt 17:15, as well as from descriptions of the affliction in other ancient literature, it is almost certain that the disease was epilepsy, which involves disorder of the central nervous system.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 127)


The third group were the paralytics, a general term representing a wide range of crippling handicaps.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 127)


17 Times the Apostle John refers to the Supernatural work of Jesus as a miraculous sign


II-  All people are attracted to the Kingdom of God which is what Jesus has to offer.  (Mt 4:24-25; Eccl 3:11; Mt 8:11; Lk 13:28-29)


A physician who was so easy of access, so sure of success, who cured immediately, without either a painful suspense and expectation, or such painful remedies as are worse than the disease; who cured gratis, and took no fees, could not but have abundance of patients.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 45)


Although Jesus’ teaching and preaching began in the Jewish synagogues, his fame spread rapidly throughout the Gentile areas.  His healing activity was by no means limited to the Jewish population.  Matthew refers repeatedly (49 times) to the crowds that attended the ministry of Jesus.  (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 35)


Wouldn’t it be great if God always gave you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows?  We do have a God like that.  — Tim Keller


In his actions and words Jesus made clear how totally accessible God is to the weak, to the downtrodden and castaway, to little children.  “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Mt 19:14).  Our Lord’s phrase “such as these” includes many characteristics of children, but here I want to stress the element of unimportance.  The humanly unimportant ones are important to God.  God being who he is, and now revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, we should be surprised if he does not speak to us.  (Dallas Willard, Hearing God, 90)


Jesus’ miracles of healing also demonstrate how he accepts into the kingdom of God those who live on the margins of Jewish society.  A written fragment from an Essene community around Jesus’ time shows how these strict Jews exclude many from the kingdom: “Neither the blind, nor the lame, nor the deaf, nor the dumb, not the lepers, nor those whose flesh is blemished shall be admitted to the council of the community.”  The Pharisees, rather like the Essenes, believe that they alone are the true Israel of God, and their list of excluded people is similar.  When Jesus touches the blind, the deaf, the leprous, and the lame, he not only heals their bodies and liberates them from oppression but also restores them to full membership in the kingdom.  (Gerhard Lohfink, Jesus and Community, 12-14)


When Jesus’ ministry was more and more resisted by the Jewish leaders, His preaching became more and more stern, even sterner than that of John the Baptist.  As hypocrisy became more evident and hostility became more vehement, Jesus’ words became more harsh.

But the King’s first proclamation was of good news, God’s marvelous offer to deliver “us from the domain of darkness, and [to transfer] us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14).  The gospel is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, the good news that God’s kingdom (the sphere of God’s rule by the grace of salvation) is open to anyone who puts his trust in the King.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 125)


The Romans used “Syria” to refer to all of Palestine, except for the region of Galilee, which was under the independent administration of Herod Antipas.  Thus, Jesus’ fame spread through Galilee and through all of Palestine.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 71)


Because Israel failed to fulfill its divine appointment of being the light of the world, of showing the world how to live under God, Jesus finally said to the Israelites of his day, “Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom” (Mt 21:43).  It was not as if the Jews were to be excluded as individuals from the exercise of the word of power in God’s kingdom.  Far from it.  But this was no longer to be exclusively their role as Jews.  The Jewish people would no longer be the exclusive people of God, God’s official address on earth.  The story of the transfer of the kingdom from the Jews to the church, which was indicated by Jesus in Mt 21:43, is the story of the NT book of Acts, which begins in Jerusalem and ends in Rome.  Today participation in the kingdom rule of God through union with Jesus is open worldwide.  (Dallas Willard, Hearing God, 175)


They came from Syria.  Syria was the great province of which Palestine was only a part.  It stretched away to the north and the north-east with the great city of Damascus as its centre.  It so happens that one of the loveliest legends passed down to us by Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History 1:13) goes back to this time.  The story goes that there was a king called Abgar, in Edessa, and he was ill.  So, it is said, he wrote to Jesus; “Abgar, ruler of Edessa, to Jesus, the most excellent Savior, who has appeared in the country of Jerusalem–greeting.  I have heard of you and of your cures, performed without medicine and without herb; for, it is said, you make the blind to see and the lame to walk, you cleanse the lepers, you cast out evil spirits and demons, you heal those afflicted with lingering diseases, and you raise the dead.  Now, as I have heard all this about you, I have concluded that one of two things must be true; either, you are God, and having descended from heaven, you do these things, or else, you are a son of God by what you do.  I write to you, therefore, to ask you to come and cure the disease from which I am suffering.  For I have heard that the Jews murmur against you, and devise evil things against you.  Now, I have a very small but an excellent city which is large enough for both of us.”  Jesus was said to have written back:  “Blessed are you for having believed in me without seeing me.  For it is written concerning me that those who have seen me will not believe in me, while they who have not seen me will believe and be saved.  But, as to your request that I should come to you, I must fulfill all things here for which I have been sent, and, after fulfilling them, be taken up again to him who sent me.  Yet, after I am taken up, I will send you one of my disciples to cure your disease, and to give life to you and to yours.  So, the legend goes on, Thaddeus went to Edessa and cured Abgar.  It is only a legend, but it does show how men believed that even in distant Syria men had heard of Jesus and longed with all their hearts for the help and the healing which he alone could give.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 81-82)


What questions do we need to ask in light of God revealing to us the Kingdom of God?:

A-  What does the Kingdom of God look like?  (Ps 96:10; Isa 11:6-9; 29:18-19; 35:5-6; Mt 4:17; 12:28; 13:24, 31-33, 44-45, 47; 18:3-4, 23ff; 19:23-24, 28; 20:1ff; 22:2ff; 25:1ff; Mk 1:15; 4:26ff; 10:14-15; Lk 6:20; 10:9; 11:20; 13:18ff; 17:20-21; 19:10; 21:31; Jn 10:10; Acts 10:38; 14:22; Rom 14:17; 1 Cor 4:20; Col 1:13-14; Heb 2:14)


His ministry was one of restoring people to wholeness.  The man who preached radical change, who announced the Kingdom, was performing deeds of mercy.  He healed and restored common people to wholeness and elevated them to a sense of worth.  He restored their spiritual well-being as He preached and their physical well-being as He administered healing.  Verse 24 adds to the list of sicknesses the problems of demon-possession and crippling limitations.  His ministry overcame ignorance, religious formalism, disease, and demonic attacks; it was a ministry designed to liberate and enable people to be their best in the grace of God.  (Myron S. Augsburger, The Communicator’s Commentary: Matthew, 57)


The great reformed theologian B. B. Warfield said, “When our Lord came down to earth He drew heaven with Him.  The signs which accompanied His ministry were but the trailing clouds of glory which He brought from heaven, which is His home.  The number of the miracles which He wrought may easily be underrated.  It has been said that in effect He banished disease and death from Palestine for the three years of His ministry.  One touch of the hem of His garment that He wore could heal whole countries of their pain.  One touch of His hand could restore life.”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 128)


Like Jesus’ words, the miracles were a foretaste of His glorious, earthly kingdom.  To get some idea of what the millennial kingdom will be like we need only multiply His words and His miracles ten-thousandfold.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 126-27)


The revolutionary new world, which began in the resurrection of Jesus–the world where Jesus reigns as Lord, having won the victory over sin and death–has its frontline outposts in those who in baptism have shared his death and resurrection.  The intermediate stage between the resurrection of Jesus and the renewal of the whole world is the renewal of human beings–you and me!–in our own lives of obedience here and now.  (N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, 249)


The kingdom of God is the range of his effective will:  that is, it is the domain where what he prefers is actually what happens.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 259)


God is regarded as sitting upon a throne (Ps 103:19a; Ez 1:26-28) where He is surrounded by the heavenly host who serve Him (1 Kgs 22:19) and from where He watches over the whole earth (Ps 33:13f.).  In the praise offered to Him by Israel He was regarded as the King of the whole world (1 Chr 29:11; Ps 103:19b) and of all the kingdoms of men (2 Kgs 19:15; Ps 47:2, 7).  He is the eternal King (145:13; Dan 4:3, 4), both from everlasting (Ps 74:12; 93:2) and to everlasting (Ex 15:18).  His right to be king rests upon the fact that He is the Creator of the heaven and the earth (Ps 95:3-5).  His kingly rule is displayed in His present jurisdiction over the nations of the world (cf. Ps 22:28; Jer 46:18; 48:15; 51:57) and in His appointment of their rulers (Dan 2:37; 4:17; 5:32; et al.).  He overcomes the forces of chaos and disorder symbolized by the mighty floods and the sea (Ps 29:10; 93:1-4), and His reign is characterized not only by power and glory (Ps 145:11f.) but also by truth and righteousness (Ps 96:13; 99:4), so that it is right and just that He should be the judge of the world (Ps 96:10).  He is worthy of praise (Ps 97:1; 98:6ff.) and fear from all peoples (Ps 99:1-3; Isa 6:5; Jer 10:7-10; Mal 1:14).  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 3, 801-02)


The present world is under the rule of Satan (Mt 4:9; cf. Lk 4:6; Mt 12:26; 14:30), but the action of God in Jesus means that Satan is being attacked, his rule is being brought to an end, and his captives are being set free.  If, therefore, the coming of the kingdom already means the hour of judgment upon wicked men (cf. Mt 3:10; cf. Lk 3:9), it is also the hour of deliverance in which men are set free from the demonic powers (Mt 12:28; cf. Lk 11:20).

The deeds of Jesus are, therefore, to be seen as signs of the coming and the presence of the kingdom.  They are part of the message (cf. Mt 4:23).  They do not simply show the power of God–hence there is no hard and fast division to be made between the miraculous and non-miraculous deeds of Jesus–but rather the kind of power that He displays.  The kingdom of God is characterized by grace (Mt 20:1-16) and a compassion that is mighty to help the unfortunate and the outcast.  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 3, 805-06)


The coming of God’s kingdom is an eschatological event when the kingly reign of God, which is His de jurre, will be manifested on earth de facto, so that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.  This means two things: negatively, the judgment of the wicked and the subjugation of every hostile power; positively, the salvation of the righteous and the redemption of a fallen creation from the burden of evil.  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 24)


Because God has revealed Himself in history, He has shown Himself to be the Lord of history.  History is the scene of the divine activity.  History, therefore, has a direction and a goal–the kingdom of God.  The certainty of a future kingdom springs from faith in God’s work of salvation in the history of Israel.  This is the source of Israel’s eschatology.  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 25)


By the kingdom of God, Jesus meant the new eschatological order to be established by a divine visitation.  A new terminology emerges in the Gospels that became common in Jewish and rabbinic literature–that of the two ages:  this age and the age to come (Ladd, Jesus and the Kingdom, 86ff.).  Although this terminology is not found in the OT, it is an easy development of the prophetic theology of the kingdom of God.  This age is the time of sinfulness, evil, and rebellion against God:  the age to come will see the perfect establishment of God’s rule in the world and the purging of all sin, evil, and rebellion.  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 26)


It is God’s purpose finally to subdue and destroy these evil powers and deliver people from their enslavement.

This divine victory will be achieved only in the age to come, which will witness the kingdom of God.  In fact, it is the coming of His kingdom that will inaugurate the age to come.  The term “kingdom of God” is used of the divine visitation (Mt 6:10; see Rv 12:10); but in the Gospels it is used more often of the new era to be inaugurated by the coming of God’s reign.  In this sense, the kingdom of God and the age to come are interchangeable terms.  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 26)


The coming of the kingdom of God will witness the complete expurgation of evil from God’s creation.  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 26)


The essential relationship between Jesus’ death and the coming of the kingdom is illustrated in that the sayings about His death refer to Him as the Son of man (Mk 8:31; 9:31; 10:33f.).  The Son of man by definition was an apocalyptic figure who would come “with the clouds” as the messianic figure in the eschatological consummation (Dnl 7:13f.).  Before He fulfills His eschatological role, however, the Son of man must appear on earth in a mission of humility and suffering as the Servant of the Lord, to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).  The eschatological consummation is linked with what God is doing in history in Jesus, especially in His death.  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 28)


Jesus came preaching that he might defeat all ignorance, he came teaching that he might defeat all misunderstandings.  He came healing that he might defeat all pain.  We, too, must proclaim our certainties; we, too, must be ready to explain our faith; we, too, must turn the ideal into action and into deeds.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 83)


These healings (the verb occurs twice) are acts of grace and mercy, performed as such, and thus they distinguish the character of Jesus as the Messiah and of the message he brought.  (R.C. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, 177)


Jesus was able to overpower whatever evil afflicted those who came to Him.  The earthly aspect of His kingdom will have no place for anything harmful, anything wicked, anything less than perfect wholeness and perfect goodness.  “On that day the deaf shall hear…the eyes of the blind shall see.  The afflicted also shall increase their gladness in the Lord, and the needy of mankind shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel” (Isa 29:18-19. Cf. 11:6-9).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 127-28)


The miracles proved that the coming kingdom was a reality, the wonders and signs being a foretaste of the marvelous realm God has in store for those who are His.  “And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of sickness” (Mt 9:35).  A short while later Jesus committed the same message and accompanying powers to His disciples:  “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give” (Mt 10:7-8).  A while after that, He pointedly told the disbelieving Pharisees, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (12:28).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 128)


To demonstrate the absoluteness of His power and authority, Jesus healed everyone who came to Him during His earthly ministry, without exception and without limit.  He still has power to heal today, with the same absoluteness and completeness; and, as He sovereignly chooses, He does so.  But He does not promise to heal everyone who now asks Him, not even those who belong to Him.  The healing miracles He performed while on earth, like His other miracles and those of the apostles, were temporary authenticating signs to Israel that her Messiah had come.  The Scripture now stands to attest to the promise of a coming earthly kingdom.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 129)


From His baptism to His ascension Jesus preached the kingdom.  “Until the day when He was taken up,” Luke tells us, Jesus was “speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:2-3).  He never allowed Himself to get sidetracked into economics, social issues, politics, or personal disputes.  His teaching and preaching focused entirely on expounding God’s Word and proclaiming God’s kingdom–a sound pattern for every faithful messenger of the gospel.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 125)


In the NT sickness may result directly from a particular sin (e.g. Jn 5:14; 1 Cor 11:20) or may not (e.g., Jn 9:2-3).  But both Scripture and Jewish tradition take sickness as resulting directly or indirectly from living in a fallen world (cf. On 8:17).  The Messianic Age would end such grief (Isa 11:1-5; 35:5-6).  Therefore Jesus’ miracles, dealing with every kind of ailment, not only herald the kingdom but show that God has pledged himself to deal with sin at a basic level (1:21; 8:17).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 121-22)


Presenting Jesus in this way, Matthew’s readers will know clearly the nature of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus has inaugurated.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 181)


Healing signals once again that Jesus has authority over the powers of this world and confirms the arrival of the kingdom of God (11:4-6).  “Every disease and sickness” indicates that nothing is beyond Jesus’ ability to heal, and authority he will likewise give to the Twelve on their mission tour in Israel (10:1).  These healings take place “among the people [laos],” the term that specifies the people of Israel.  Both proclamation and miracle announce that Israel’s hoped-for kingdom promise is at hand.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 182)


Matthew’s recurring focus on healing emphasizes throughout the narrative that the arrival of the kingdom is confirmed by Jesus’ power over all realms of human existence, spiritual, physical, or emotional.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 182)


A changed heart is the only entrance into the Kingdom of God and it is God through Christ who alone can provide you with a changed heart that qualifies you to enter the Kingdom of God. — Pastor Keith


A comprehensive redemption also means that human cultural development and work will continue.  The cultural achievements of history will be purified and will reappear on the new earth (Rv 21:24-26).  There will be opportunity for humankind to continue to work and develop the creation–but now released from the burden of sin.  (Craig G. Bartholomew & Michael W. Goheen, The Drama of Scripture, 213)


For if heaven cannot rectify Auschwitz, then the memory of Auschwitz must undo the experience of heaven.  Redemption will be complete only when the creation of “all things new” is coupled with the passage of “all things old” into the double nihil of nonexistence and nonremembrance.  Such redemptive forgetting is implied in a passage in Revelation about the new heavens and the new earth.  “Mourning and crying and pain” will be no more not only because “death will be no more” but also because “the first things have passed away” (21:4)–from experience as well as from memory, as the text in Isaiah from which Revelation quotes explicitly states: “the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind” (65:17; cf. 43:18).  (Miroslav Volf, Exclusion & Embrace, 136)


The kingdom of God is not essentially a social or political reality at all.  Indeed, the social and political realm, along with the individual heart, is the only place in all of creation where the kingdom of God, of his effective will, is currently permitted to be absent. That realm is the “on earth” of the Lord’s Prayer that is opposed to the “in heaven” where God’s will is, simply, done.  It is the realm of what is cut out “by hands,” opposed to the to the kingdom “cut out without hands” of Daniel, chapter 2.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 25)


Jesus goes to war against the brokenness, depravity, and injustices in the world.  As His disciples, we should do the same.  — Pastor Keith


Jesus shows us what His Kingdom will look like if we vote for Him and enter into His Kingdom.  — Pastor Keith


In what sense, then, did Jesus declare that the Kingdom of God was present?  Our answer must at least begin with His own answer to John:  “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the Gospel preached to them.”  In the ministry of Jesus Himself the divine power is released in effective conflict with evil.  (C.H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, 44)


What you do with Jesus has always been more important than what you do for Jesus.  (Pete Wilson, Empty Promises, 111)


Christians are about the business of rebuilding, restoring, renewing, reforming, revitalizing, rebirthing, resurrecting, reconciling, redeeming,             


B-  Why can’t we see the Kingdom of God consummated today?  (Mt 5:3, 10, 19-20; 7:21-22; 10:23-25; 19:23-24; Mk 10:15; Lk 8:10; 9:62; 18:16-17, 24-25; Jn 3:3-5; 18:36; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 15:50; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5)


When Jesus preached and taught, He was announcing that He was the King who had come to bring God’s promised perfect kingdom.  Had they accepted the One who now proclaimed the good news of the kingdom to them, the Jews could have had that kingdom established in their midst.  Had they accepted Jesus as the Messiah, His kingdom then would have come on earth.  But because they rejected the King and His gospel, they rejected the earthly, promised kingdom.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 125)


The famous agnostic Thomas Huxley was once lovingly confronted by a very sincere Christian.  This believer stressed to Huxley that he was not in any way impugning Huxley’s sincerity.  Nevertheless, might it not be possible that mentally the great scientist was color blind?  That is, some people cannot see traces of green where other people cannot help but see it.  Could it be that this was Huxley’s problem—that he was simply blind to truth that was quite evident to others?  Huxley, being a man of integrity, admitted that this was possible, and added that if it were, he himself, of course, could not know or recognize it.  (Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, 708)


The clause “Thy will be done, as in heaven so also on earth,” added in the Matthew 6 version of the model prayer, therefore only clarifies what it means to say, “Thy kingdom come.”  We have pointed out in earlier chapters that this does not mean “come into existence.”  The kingdom of God is from everlastingly earlier to everlastingly later.  It does not come into existence, nor does it cease.  But in human affairs other “kingdoms” may for a time be in power, and often are.  This second request asks for those kingdoms to be displaced, wherever they are, or brought under God’s rule.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 259-60)


The real trouble with man in sin is that he always wants to understand.  The ultimate sin of man is pride of intellect.  That is why it is always true to say that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many might, not many noble are called.”  The wise man after the flesh wants to understand.  He pits his brain against God’s wisdom, and he says, “I don’t see.”  Of course he doesn’t.  And Christ says to him, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).  If you think that with your mind, which is so small when you compare it with the mind of God, and which is not only small but also sinful, and perverted, and polluted, and twisted–if you think that with the mind you have you can comprehend the working of God’s eternal mind and wisdom, obviously you do not know God, you are outside the life of God, and you are lost.  The first thing that must happen to you before you can ever become a Christian is that you must surrender that little mind of yours, and begin to say, “Of course I cannot understand it; my whole nature is against it.  I can see that there is only one thing to do; I submit myself to the revelation that God has been pleased to give.  (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 5, 251)


The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit.  Among the things of the Spirit to which the natural man is most averse is God’s estimate of sin, which is difficult even for a Christian to accept and appreciate.  This is why believers are to exhort each other daily, “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).  Now if sin can deceive a believer, how much more deceitful is it to an unbeliever?  If a man with 20-20 vision cannot discern an object at which he is gazing, how shall one born blind see it?  Because of the deceitful nature of sin, the unregenerate world cannot comprehend.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Freedom, 27)


I was recently listening on my iPod to a lecture delivered at a TED (Technology, Education, Design) conference.  Listening to TED lectures is a form of intellectual exercise I get while doing my physical exercise on an elliptical.  During this particular lecture, Al Seckel, an expert in visual perception, showed the audience a wide variety of images.  One of them was a stenciled drawing of a couple intimately embracing.  The audience immediately recognized the image.  But Seckel revealed that when that image was shown to children, almost like a Rorschach test, and they were asked to describe what they saw, the children could not see the couple.  Why?  Because the kids didn’t have a prior memory to associate with the picture.  They didn’t have a cognitive category for a couple intimately embracing.  Most of the kids saw nine dolphins!

Here’s why:  you cannot see what you do not know.  Even our imaginations are limited to extrapolations of what we have seen or heard or experienced.  Ideas don’t materialize out of thin air, unless of course it’s a God idea that bypasses the five senses and is revealed by the Holy Spirit.  But by and large, our imaginations have boundaries based on our experience and education.  The goal of learning is to expand our God-given imagination so we expand our appreciation of who God is and what God has made.  (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 101-02)


Teaching, Preaching, Healing.  Note these three cardinal words and methods.  The Christian church has emulated Jesus in the preaching, though with what ill preparation and poor fervor!  As for the teaching, that has largely gone except for the halfheartedness of the Sunday school.  For Jesus the synagogue was the school:  all secular knowledge was thus gathered into a noble faith, not into a thin worship of “facts.”  Our teaching has gone into the hands of secular authorities.  As for healing, that function has been almost entirely surrendered to medicine and psychiatry, despite the fact that both these fine endeavors are largely robbed of meaning unless they have the right spirit, and are directed to the true end of life.  (George Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 7, 277-78)


The Bible says that the rich young ruler went away feeling sorrowful.  But Jesus was even more sorrowful because he knew what divine joy and divine purpose the young man was forfeiting.

His ultimate problem was not that he had riches.  His problem was that he trusted in his riches.  That affected what he did with his money.  Because he put his faith in money instead of in God to see him through, he was not able to use his gifts the way Jesus called him to use them.  And he missed out on the security and satisfaction and freedom that come from putting his faith where it really belongs.  (Pete Wilson, Empty Promises, 104-05)


Blaise Pascal’s words bring us back to reality: “The figure used in the Gospel for the state of the soul that is sick is that of sick bodies.  But, because one body cannot be sick enough to express it properly, there had to be more than one.  Thus we find the deaf man, the dumb man, the blind man, the paralytic, dead Lazarus, the man possessed of a devil.  All these put together are in the sick soul.”  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 38)


A person who wields power cannot see truth; that is the privilege of the powerless.  (Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks, 125)


Condemnation is the board in our eye.  He knows that the mere fact that we are condemning someone shows our heart does not have the kingdom rightness he has been talking about.  Condemnation, especially with its usual accompaniments of anger and contempt and self-righteousness, blinds us to the reality of the other person.  We can’t “see clearly” how to assist our brother, because we cannot see our brother.  And we will never know how to truly help him until we have grown into the kind of person who does not condemn.  Period.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 224)


In his brilliant new book, Catching the Light, quantum physicist Arthur Zojanc writes of what he describes as the “entwined history of light and mind” (correctly described by one admirer as the “two ultimate metaphors of the human spirit”). For our purposes, his initial chapter is most helpful.

From both the animal and human studies, we know there are critical developmental “windows” in the first years of life.  Sensory and motor shills are formed, and if this early opportunity is lost, trying to play catch up is hugely frustrating and mostly unsuccessful.

Prof. Zajoc writes of studies which investigated recovery from congenital blindness. Thanks to cornea transplants, people who had been blind from birth would suddenly have functional use of their eyes.  Nevertheless, success was rare.  Referring to one young boy, “the world does not appear to the patient as filled with the gifts of intelligible light, color, and shape upon awakening from surgery,” Zajoc observes.  Light and eyes were not enough to grant the patient sight.  “The light of day beckoned, but no light of mind replied within the boy’s anxious, open eyes.”

Zajoc quotes from a study by a Dr. Moreau who observed that while surgery gave the patient the “power to see,” “the employment of this power, which as a whole constitutes the act of seeing, still has to be acquired from the beginning.”  Dr. Moreau concludes, “To give back sight to a congenitally blind person is more the work of an educator than of a surgeon.”  To which Zajoc adds, “The sober truth remains that vision requires far more than a functioning physical organ.  Without an inner light, without a formative visual imagination, we are blind,” he explains.  That “inner light”—the light of the mind —”must flow into and marry with the light of nature to bring forth a world.”  (National Right to Life News, March 30, 1993, 22)


Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the concern, compassion and love which he showed to mankind, made some very vivid portrayals of man’s condition.  He did not mince words about the gravity of human sin.  He talked of man as salt that has lost its savor (Mt 5:13).  He talked of man as a corrupt tree which is bound to produce corrupt fruit (Mt 7:7).  He talked of man as being evil:  “You, being evil, know how to give good things to your children” (Lk 11:13).  On one occasion he lifted up his eyes toward heaven and talked about an “evil and adulterous generation” (v. 45).  In a great passage dealing with what constitutes true impurity and true purity he made the startling statement that out of the heart proceed murders, adulteries, evil thoughts and things of that kind (Mk 7:21-23).  He spoke about Moses having to give special permissive commandments to men because of the hardness of their hearts (Mt 19:8).  When the rich young ruler approached him, saying, “Good Master,” Jesus said, “there is none good but God” (Mk 10:18)…

Jesus compared men, even the leaders of his country, to wicked servants in a vineyard (Mt 21:33-41).  He exploded in condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees, who were considered to be among the best men, men who were in the upper ranges of virtue and in the upper classes of society (Mt 23:2-39).

The Lord Jesus made a fundamental statement about man’s depravity in Jn 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”  He saw in man an unwillingness to respond to grace–“You will not come to God” (Jn 5:40), “You have not the love of God” (v. 42), “You receive me not” (v. 43), “You believe not” (v. 47).  Such sayings occur repeatedly in the Gospel of John.  “The world’s works are evil” (Jn 7:7); “None of you keeps the law” (v. 19).  “You shall die in your sins,” he says (Jn 8:21).  “You are from beneath” (v. 23); “Your father is the devil, who is a murderer and a liar” (vv. 38, 44); “You are not of God” (v. 47); “You are not of my sheep” (Jn 10:26); “He that hates me hates my Father” (Jn 15:23-25).  This is the way in which our Lord spoke to the leaders of the Jews.  He brought to the fore their utter inability to please God.

Following another line of approach he showed also the blindness of man, that is, his utter inability to know God and understand him.  Here again we have a whole series of passages showing that no man knows the Father but him to whom the Son has revealed him (Mt 11:27).  He compared men to the blind leading the blind (Mt 15:14).  He mentioned that Jerusalem itself did not know or understand the purpose of God and, as a result, disregarded the things that concern salvation (Lk 19:42).  The Gospel of John records him as saying that he that believed not was condemned already because he had not believed on the Son of God (Jn 3:18).  “This is the condemnation, that…men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (v. 19).  He said that only the one who has been reached by grace can walk not in darkness but have the light of life (Jn 8:12).  The Lord Jesus emphasized that it is essential for man to be saved by a mighty act of God if he is to be rescued from his condition of misery (Jn 3:3, 5, 7-16).  Even in the Lord’s Prayer the Lord teaches us to say, “Forgive us our debts” (Mt 6:12).  And this is a prayer that we need to repeat again and again.  He said, “The sick are the people who need a physician” (Mt 9:12).  We are those sick people who need a physician to help us and redeem us.  He said that we are people who are burdened and heavy-laden (Mt 11:28)…

The people who were most readily received by the Lord were those who had this sense of need and who therefore did not come to him with a sense of the sufficiency of their performance.  The people he received were those who came broken-hearted and bruised with the sense of their inadequacy.  (Roger R. Nicole, “The Doctrines of Grace in Jesus’ Teaching”)


I was asked to prove this once at a meeting held in a bookshop by a secular humanist, who said, like you, ‘I have to believe in human goodness.’  My answer was simple–‘Go to the history section of this bookshop, pick out any book you like, and I will show you proof of humanity’s inhumanity.’  And it’s not just in history.  I can pick up any newspaper, watch the news, or consider my own experience and look deep within.  At the end of the day, the evidence of human sinfulness is so overwhelming that it takes a special kind of blindness to be able to ignore it!  (David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession–Why Jesus Is Great, 96-97)


I’m currently watching hundreds and hundreds of ants lining up in single file across the floor of my house.  The little guys are climbing on top of each other to get to this delicious, poisonous stuff.  It’s amazing to watch.  They have no idea that their pursuit will lead to their demise.

What an amazing picture this is of how many of us live in today’s culture.  We’re lining up by the thousands to pursue what we’ve been convinced is the good life.  And while the very thing we chase looks good or feels good or tastes good, it’s also poison to our souls.  (Pete Wilson, Empty Promises, 24)


Worship Point:  See Jesus.  Know Jesus.  Trust Jesus.   Worship Jesus.


I don’t know about you, but I cannot simply muster up more love.  I can’t manufacture patience just by gritting my teeth and determining to be more patient.  We are not strong or good enough, and it doesn’t work that way.  None of us can “do goodness” on our own, much less all the other elements that make up the fruit of the Spirit.

But despite our inability to change ourselves in this way, to simply become more peaceful or joyful, we expend a great deal of effort trying.  We focus on what God wants us to do and forget the kind of people He wants us to be.

Instead of mustering up more willpower, let’s focus our energies and time on asking for help from the One who has the power to change us.  Let’s take the time to ask God to put the fruit of His Spirit into our lives.  And let’s spend time with the One we want to be more like.  (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 148)


Gospel Application:  Jesus is not like any other king, governor, senator, representative or civic leader.  Jesus is willing to go to any and all extremes to make life as best as it can be for you a child of God, a co-heir with Christ, and a partaker of the Divine nature.  (Mt 5:9; Jn 1:12; Rom 8:14-21; Gal 3:26-4:7; Eph 2:6-7; Col 2:9-10; 1 Jn 3:1-2)


What is shocking is that when Jesus summarizes his work on earth, he doesn’t start reliving all the great sermons he preached and all the people who came to listen to him.  He doesn’t talk about the amazing miracles he performed–giving sight to the blind, enabling the lame to walk, and feeding thousands of people with minimal food.  He doesn’t even mention bringing the dead back to life.  Instead he talks repeatedly about the small group of men God had given him out of the world.  They were the work God had given to him.  They were, quite literally, his life.  (David Platt, Radical, 88-89)


Spiritual Challenge:  Strive to get past your cultural, family and generational presuppositions and see Christ as God has revealed Him in the Scriptures and in history.  We fail to appropriately appreciate Christ because we pigeon-hole Him into demeaning and blasphemous categories that prohibit us seeing Him as He really is and also prevents the Kingdom of God from coming into fulfillment in our lives.  (Prv 3:5-6; Isa 55:8-9; Mt 6:33; Rom 12:1-2)



The reason the Son of God appeared

was to destroy the devil’s work. — 1 John 3:8b


Vote for Jesus:



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply