The Kingdom is at Hand (Matthew 3-4)

Moving on from yesterday, God is continuing to have a hand in the events unfolding as John “prepares the way of the Lord” (3:3 cf Isaiah 40:3). Usually I focus on the second half of Matthew 3 where Jesus is baptized because it is A. pretty cool and B. has the trinity all mentioned in one place.

Today, however, the theme of “the Kingdom” coming stood out. And not necessarily in a pleasant way.

John begins by warning people to repent — and then proceeds to go into this wheat-chaff illustration, which is quite frightening if you think about it. First, he is baptizing “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (3:11) … Holy Spirit = I can handle that, FIRE = ouch? I seem to have always missed that word. And then he moves onto saying how the wheat will be separated from the chaff (aka the heads of the grain from the stalk — edible parts and non-edible parts) and then he BURNS THE CHAFF. That … is a little-bit-lot more terrifying for the chaff. But it is necessary for that to happen. God is a righteous God, and therefore he has to judge the world, and separate the chaff and then burn it. It is only just. I just wasn’t thinking about it this morning.

Then we move onto see how the kingdom begins to become present. First, Jesus is baptized, and then right after he is “led by the Spirit” to be tempted (4:1). Uhhhh…………..you know, I always knew he was IN the wilderness, and that he was tempted, but I clearly missed that he HAD to be tempted? But he succeeds in not being led into temptation, and then he starts his ministry (yay!)

This is sort of when we begin to see the kingdom, because now the kingdom is not COMING, it is HERE.

From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
– Matthew 4:17

Matthew later mentions a number of times about what the kingdom is like, what it relates to, etc. but all of this is “at hand”. It is here and present. We are called, just as Jesus went to call Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, we too are called to partake in the kingdom today.

I think often it’s easy to dismiss the call we have daily to get up and join the work of “the kingdom,” working alongside and for God – but it’s a daily call that we can choose to be a part of. I find that I forget about halfway through the day sometimes (or even earlier). Something I need to work on is ways to remind myself that I’m called to be a part of seeing “the kingdom” on earth every moment of every day. What great joy it is to be a part of something so big!

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