“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’.” Matthew 10:7
I have been reading through the book of Matthew these past few weeks during my morning Bible time. Just for clarification, by “morning Bible time” I mean the 7 minutes or so I sit on the boys’ step stool in the middle of the kitchen floor reading my Bible and waiting for the coffee to brew on weekday mornings. It’s not in-depth. But, regardless of quantity, God is always there to provide the quality.
And so, last week I turned my eye to Matthew 10. In this chapter, Jesus sends out the twelve disciples to teach and heal the “lost sheep of Israel”. The disciples have been with Jesus for some time now. They have witnessed the feeding of the 5,000, seen Jesus calm the raging sea, listened as Jesus has preached about the great love of God. They’ve been given an in-depth, hands-on education and now are ready to “graduate” into the real world. Look at the instructions Jesus gives:
“Don’t go among the Gentiles or into a Samaritan city. Go instead to the lost sheep, the people of Israel. As you go, make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, and throw out demons. You received without having to pay. Therefore, give without demanding payment. Workers deserve to be fed, so don’t gather gold or silver or copper coins for your money belts to take on your trips. Don’t take a backpack for the road or two shirts or sandals or a walking stick. Whatever city or village you go into, find somebody in it who is worthy and stay there until you go on your way. “
I have read this passage many times, but on this particular day, the phrase that kept repeating itself over and over in my mind was, “…make this announcement: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.'” The kingdom of heaven has come near… Think about that for just a minute. On one level, Jesus is talking about himself as the Son of God. He is the co-creator of Heaven and all of the powers of Heaven dwell within him. All of his teaching, all of his healing, comes from above. Therefore, his entire ministry is literally bringing the kingdom of Heaven nearer to humanity.
But then, Jesus gives those powers over to the disciples. He tells them to go out throughout all of Israel (Jesus was very singular in his purpose on Earth–bring the Israelite people back to God) and he gives them HIS authority to teach and heal. HIS authority–which is the authority of Heaven! The kingdom of Heaven has come near. And this time, it is the disciples who are bringing it nearer to humanity.
The thought occurred to me, as I was mulling over this passage, that perhaps, we too have the ability to bring the kingdom of Heaven nearer. Because, as children of God, we have a share in the kingdom too. I believe that Jesus calls us into the world, just as he did the disciples, to bring the kingdom of Heaven nearer to humanity. I believe that we are called to go into this dark, broken and hurting world and to bring with us the cleansing, healing, redeeming and restoring power of LOVE Jesus so freely gave to all those who had need.
I’ve adopted a new prayer for my morning drive to work. It is simply this: “Dear God, today, let me see with your eyes and act with your heart.” I’m not perfect–far from it in fact. But regardless of all my imperfections, Jesus’ call still remains. “Tell them…the kingdom of Heaven has come near.” And when I think of all the messages I could send with my life, sending the message of Jesus is my ultimate prayer.
“Tell them, the kingdom of Heaven is near…”
Blessings and Peace,