From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” –Matthew 4:17
When Jesus came, He repeated the prophets’ calls for repentance of sin and turning back to God. For the selfish and proudly religious looking to be blessed and affirmed, Jesus’ message of humble repentance was not enticing. In Jesus’ first coming, the seeds of the Kingdom were scattered, but the soil in the hearts of many was not good, and they did not respond to Jesus in faith.36 Likewise, when Jesus told His disciples that He would be killed, they refused to believe it,37 preferring a messiah who would conquer their enemies so they could sit on thrones beside him.38
Jesus’ Kingdom message is not a new teaching but a reiteration of the same themes God has continually revealed to His people throughout the Old Testament. Jesus’ Kingdom message is not that He was merely a good moral example for us to follow; rather, we are utterly unable to follow His sinless life apart from new life in Him. Jesus’ Kingdom message is not primarily about how to go to Heaven when we die. That is a part of the story, but not the heart of the story. And Jesus’ Kingdom message is not primarily about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus in which we enjoy Him privately, as if the rule of His Kingdom was intended to be over only our hearts and not all of creation. God’s redemption plan is cosmic in nature and reclaiming all that God has made for His glory and our good.
If you get to ask Jesus a question in eternity, what would your question be?
36 Matt. 13.
37 Matt. 16:21–23; 17:22–23.
38 Matt. 20:17–28.