Monday, November 04, 2013

Establishing the kingdom (1)

Jesus didn't come to the Gentiles: He came to the Jews. "He came to his own, and his own did not receive him" (John 1:11).

When Jesus sent out the 12 disciples, He told them: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand'" (Matt 10: 5 - 7).

Mark tells how a Syro-Phoenician woman came to Jesus asking for healing for her daughter. Jesus told her: "Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs" (Mark 7:27). Why did He say that? Because she was a Gentile. (It's only fair to point out that she got what she asked, but Jesus made it clear His ministry was not to the Gentiles.) 

The Jews were God's chosen nation, through whom He wanted to reveal Himself to the world.

And when Jesus came to the Jews, what did He preach? He preached the kingdom of heaven. "Jesus began to preach and to say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" (Matt 4: 17). "Now Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (v23).

Look at Matthew 13. "Another parable he put forth to them, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field'" (v24). "Another parable he put forth to them, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed'" (v31). "Another parable he spoke to them: 'The kingdom of heaven is like leaven'" (v33). "The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom" (v38). "The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend" (v41). "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (v43)."Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field" (v44). "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls" (v45). "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea" (v47). The kingdom is mentioned more than 50 times in Matthew's Gospel alone.

Jesus came to bring the kingdom. But the Jews couldn't have the kingdom, because they rejected the King.

The common people received Him gladly. Crowds followed Him. The Old Testament contained many prophecies of the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled all the ones that had to be fulfilled at that time. He did what He could to certify His Messiahship. He performed miracles they believed only the Messiah could perform. But the religious leaders of the Jews were another matter. They didn't like His message and they didn't want the man.

The Jews' final rejection came in Matthew 12:

Then one was brought to him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and he healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.

And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the son of David?"

But when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."  Matt 12:22 - 24. 

So when the Jews rejected Jesus, what did He do?

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