A devotional thought from Mike Cosper for “Created to Relate”
Matthew 4:17: “From then on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!’ ”
The gospel Jesus preached again and again was that the kingdom of God was near. While this certainly had wide-ranging implications, at it’s heart, it simply meant that, through Jesus, God’s presence was available to ordinary people once again—just like it was meant to be when God made the world.
Prior to this announcement, God’s presence was a rare and dangerous thing. In the temple, His presence was kept separate by means of curtains and walls. At Sinai, when God showed up on the top of the mountain, the people were warned not to draw close or touch the mountain. The lesson was clear—sinful people can’t get anywhere close to a holy God without dire consequences.
Yet in Jesus, God draws near to sinners of all stripes. Children rush into His arms, tax collectors welcome Him into their homes, and prostitutes reach out to Him and call Him friend. It’s a stunning contrast to the Old Testament, and it’s only made possible because Jesus is the Lamb of God, the One sent to take away the world’s sins.
When Jesus ascended into the heavens, He told His disciples that He’d be with them always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). His kingdom continues now as He dwells in our hearts through His Holy Spirit. The kingdom is here! Jesus welcomes us, calls us friends, and makes His home with us.
Pause and Reflect
• When you think about the gospel, do you think about the kingdom of God and the gospel Jesus preached? Do you think of the good news as the available relationship with God, right now, through Jesus?
• Do you think this good news could be interpreted as bad news?
• Consider some friends who don’t know Jesus. Pray for them that the Lord would open their eyes to the deep need of their image-bearing soul—relationship with Him. Then consider how you might share the good news with them.