#3 – March 17th ~ The Preaching of the Kingdom
Just a note before you read this: Please read each scripture passage before reading my commentary. God’s word must take precedence before my words. In the opening passage here, the two things I emphasized in the first lesson that Jesus did that John the Baptist did not do are miracles and going forth to the people. John the Baptist stayed out in the wilderness and in order to hear his message, everyone had to go out to him. Jesus went to the people.
Matthew 9:14-17 ~ The New Wine of the Kingdom of Heaven. Last week we saw two new things that Jesus did that John the Baptist did not do. What were these two things? Jesus gets criticism for His style of ministry. In response, Jesus points out that it would be highly inappropriate to fast while at a wedding banquet. We have already seen banquet language in reference to the Kingdom of Heaven, see Matthew 8:11-12. Jesus then tells two parables to explain how He is doing something new in the lives of His disciples. Remember, the original question related to His disciples (Why don’t your disciples fast?). He came to give them new wine. New wine was unfermented wine (non-alcoholic) but with the potential to be explosive in power. It would rip apart old wineskins. Essentially, Jesus is saying that the new wine that He is giving to His disciples would rip apart the old system. Only new wineskins would be able to contain the explosive power of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 10:5-15 ~ Jesus sends forth the twelve. Instead of relying on the crowds to come to Him, Jesus and His disciples go forth to where the people are to preach the Kingdom of Heaven. The message is simple, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” This is accompanied by the power to heal. This preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven is the new wine of which Jesus spoke. Jesus didn’t give this power to the priests at the temple, He didn’t give it to the disciples of John the Baptist, and He didn’t give it to the scribes and Pharisees. He gave it to His disciples that He personally chose. There are also consequences if people do not receive the message of the disciples, but not to be reckoned until the day of judgment. Chapter 10 gives the entire context, but these verses are pointed out to show that the disciples are participating in the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Yes, it’s not just Jesus. The disciples are there and preaching the gospel.
Matthew 13:1-9 ~ The Parable of the Sower. In Matthew 13, there are seven parables of the Kingdom of Heaven. I believe there is significance in the number seven. Matthew places these seven together for a reason. Some of them are unique to Matthew, but Luke includes them at different points in his ministry and it seems that Mark has an additional parable [which we will review] that is not included in any other gospel. The main point that we will see in this first parable is that the power of the Kingdom of Heaven is in the preaching of the word, specifically in the preaching of the gospel.
Matthew 13:10-17 ~ The explanation of the explanation. Before Jesus explains the parable of the sower, He has an explanation as to why He speaks in parables to begin with. This is the explanation that will explain why He needs an explanation for any parable. The short answer is that they (the people to whom they preach) are spiritually blind and deaf. The people that were flocking to see and hear Jesus and His miracles simply could not comprehend the message. In context, the reason is because they did not repent and believe the gospel, see Matthew 11:20. For all the multitude that gathered, very few understood the power of the Kingdom of Heaven that was present in the person of Jesus and His disciples. Notice how Jesus pronounces a blessing upon His disciples after explaining about the spiritual blindness of those on the outside, see Mark 4:11. Compare this statement with the phrase “outer darkness”.
Because Jesus quotes Isaiah 6 in His response, our class also examined the original context of the passage that Jesus quoted. This too gives insight into the preaching of the gospel.
Isaiah 6:8-10 ~ The Call of Isaiah. To sum up Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees a vision of God’s glory, he confesses the sinfulness of his own mouth and the sinfulness of his people, then God pronounces his sins as covered. Then there is a question from the Lord. Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? Notice the two aspects of the question. There is God’s part in sending someone. There is the person’s part in accepting the call to go on their own. Isaiah accepts the call and says that he will go. In response to that, God tells Isaiah the following. Go and give the message. They will hear but not understand. They will see you, but not repent and be converted. If you were Isaiah and had just accepted the call to go to the people, how would you react to this news that they will not repent? Do we fail to tell people the word of God because we think they will not repent and believe?
Matthew 13:18-23 ~ The explanation of the parable of the sower. There are four results of the sowing of the seed. What is meant by each type of situation?
#1 – Along the path.
#2 – Rocky ground, shallow soil.
#3 – Among the thorns.
#4 – On good soil.
Mark 4:26-29 ~ The parable of the seed. This is a parable only found in the gospel of Mark. The power of the Kingdom of Heaven to change lives and produce fruit is in the preaching of the word of God. The entire world revolves around the wisdom of God in the growth of a plant from a seed. All our food supply comes from seeds. Why does a seed grow? Scientists do not know why seeds grow. They just know that they do. As recipients of the word of God, we also cannot fully explain why the word of God produces fruit. We just know that it does. As we go forth to proclaim God’s word, we do not have a reasonable explanation for why it will work.
Preaching versus preaching the gospel. The Greek word which is translated “preach” in many places is kerusso which means to be a herald or to proclaim something openly. Here are the instances in Matthew’s gospel where this word is used, Matthew 3:1, 4:17, 4:23, 9:35, 10:7, 10:27, 11:1, 24:14, 26:13. The word that is translated as a phrase “preach the gospel” is euaggelizo. We get our word evangelize from this word. It is comprised of two words, eu and aggelos, which mean good and messenger. Eu is seen in other English words like eulogy which means good word or euphemism which means good sound. Aggelos is seen as angel which we know as a messenger from God. To put it succinctly, the word means to good message, although we don’t talk that way. It is interpreted to preach the gospel which is a very good dynamic equivalent. In Matthew’s gospel it appears only in 11:5, but it appears in many places throughout scripture, see Luke 1:19, 2:10, 3:18, 4:18, 4:43, 7:22, 8:1, 9:6, 16:16, 20:1; Acts 5:42, 8:4, 8:12, 8:25, 8:35, 8:40, 10:36, 11:20, 13:32, 14:7, 14:15, 14:21, 15:35, 16:10, 17:18.
Matthew 10:16 ~ I am sending you out. The mindset of most churches is to come to church and sit and listen to preaching. This can be fine for the purposes of fellowship, discipleship, teaching, ministering to the needs of other Christians, and worship. However, for the purpose of proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven as being at hand, for the purpose of evangelism, the mentality of come to church and sit is the exact opposite of the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. The new wine with explosive power that Jesus gave to His disciples would compel them to go forth to other places in order to proclaim and evangelize. The idea of “invite people to church” is the exact opposite of the method of Jesus and the early church. We say we are disciples of Jesus. But are we? The ministries of Evanston should fall into line with the ministries of the new testament church. In order to do evangelism, we must have the new wine that Jesus gave to His disciples to go forth to where the people are and not make them come to us. The present power of the Kingdom of Heaven is in the preaching of the gospel. When the church does not preach the gospel, the power of the Kingdom of Heaven is not present.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman