The Kingdom of Heaven Has Come Near

by Catherine McNiel on June 30, 2022

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

—Matthew 10:7-8

 A few days ago, we saw how Matthew demonstrated that Jesus held authority over every possible area of our lives—both seen and unseen, public and private. Then, we saw that Jesus was preaching the gospel, which literally means “good news”—specifically good news for the poor and hurting, according to both Jesus and Isaiah. Jesus didn’t just preach with words, but by actually doing the gospel: healing, providing, feeding.

 Now, something new: Jesus gives His friends authority, then He sends them out to proclaim the good news. They are to preach that the kingdom of heaven has come near. And how can we tell? Because they are healing the sick, raising the dead, driving out demons. They are freely giving, just as they have received.

 But this message is not, at the moment, for the whole world. Jesus sends His friends to preach to “the lost sheep of Israel” and tells them to steer clear of Gentiles. Though the rest of the world (and that includes us!) will be included, right now, this incredible news—which comes with life-changing healing and upheaval—is for Jerusalem.

 This ties in to the words we read today from Isaiah, where God promises to proclaim and provide for Jerusalem first and foremost:

 I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem;
    they will never be silent day or night.
You who call on the Lord,
    give yourselves no rest,
and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes her the praise of the earth.

The Lord has sworn by his right hand
    and by his mighty arm:
“Never again will I give your grain
    as food for your enemies,
and never again will foreigners drink the new wine
    for which you have toiled…

…and you will be called Sought After,
    the City No Longer Deserted.
(Isaiah 62:6-8, 12b)

 Questions for reflection and discussion: Do you consider healing for the sick and provision for the poor to be central to the gospel, as Jesus does? Why or why not? Why do you think Jesus gave authority to His friends, and why did they go first to the people of Israel?

 

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