After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
A Different Kind of Kingdom
Today’s Bible passage has an ominous start. John was the man sent by God to prepare people for the coming Savior. Why was he put in prison?
Because preparing people to meet Jesus meant confronting them with their sins, and not everyone appreciated that. When John called a king named Herod to repentance for his unlawful marriage, Herod put John in prison. The message was clear: in Herod’s kingdom, confronting sin could make you an enemy of the state.
Unknown to Herod, however, was the fact that the Savior had arrived. No sooner was John in prison than Jesus began preaching his own clear message: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
His message is about a different kind of kingdom from Herod’s. It doesn’t have a set location because it is not a place; it is God’s saving activity among people. It is not characterized by ignoring sin or imprisoning its enemies. Instead, it is all about forgiving sin and turning its enemies into citizens.
Because of sin, all people enter this world hostile to God. Repentance changes that. When you repent, God changes how you think about sin. He makes you sorry for it and turns you away from it and toward himself. He is your King, who wore a crown of thorns and shed his blood on a cross to obliterate all your sins.
That good news characterizes this kingdom and is the reason why we need to be confronted with our sin so we will repent of it and believe the good news that we are forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Repentance is not a turning you do to yourself; it’s a turning Jesus’ Word does to you. Belief is not something you conjure up in yourself; it’s a gift that Jesus’ Word gives to you.
This King establishes his kingdom not by fighting, but by speaking. Remember, this is a different kind of kingdom. You are its citizen by the grace of God, by repentance and faith in the good news.
Lord, thank you for bringing me into your kingdom. Amen.