THE KINGDOM IS NEAR
Matthew 10:5-8 NKJV
5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.
In this chapter, Jesus has called the 12 men who would become His top disciples. This was a diverse group of men that Jesus empowered to help Him reach the nation of Israel.
In our verses for today, Jesus is giving job descriptions to the twelve. Jesus gave clear boundaries of where they were to go. He sent them to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Once again, we see Jesus referring to God’s people as sheep. And taking from yesterday’s passage, we see the compassion of Jesus. He had compassion on the people of Israel because they were as sheep without a shepherd. They were weary and scattered. Jesus directed His followers to pray that God would send laborers into His harvest. Now we see Jesus choosing the twelve and sending them out as workers in God’s harvest field. The compassion of Jesus was behind the empowering of the twelve disciples.
Jesus also gave the twelve the message of the hour. They were to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. The more literal rendering of that phrase is the kingdom of heaven is near. The kingdom of heaven is that which is under the rule and domain of God. The kingdom of heaven was not a political entity or a natural kingdom. When Jesus stood before Pilate, He informed Pilate that if His kingdom was of this earth, then His servants would fight, but His kingdom was not from here.
Because Jesus is referring to a spiritual kingdom, the people did not understand. The Jews were convinced that the Messiah would return and restore the kingdom to Israel. They were thinking of a natural kingdom that would free them from the rule of Rome. They anticipated a return to power where Jerusalem would be the world capital. One day that will happen, but for now, the kingdom of heaven is not of this earth.
But the kingdom of heaven is a powerful kingdom. Not only would the disciples preach and declare that the kingdom was near, but they would validate those claims by revealing what this kingdom was about. Jesus not only empowered the twelve to preach but to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. The kingdom of heaven is a kingdom that delivers mankind from the curse of sin, sickness, and darkness. A very important thing to note is that the twelve were delivering the weary and scattered sheep from sickness and oppression. They were not causing sickness and oppression.
Jesus also made it clear that no one was to pay for being healed or delivered. The disciples had received this authority freely, and they were to administer this freely.
When the kingdom of heaven came near, people were helped and blessed.
The kingdom of heaven has not diminished. God’s kingdom is eternal and does not fade away. And when anyone receives Jesus as Lord and Saviour, they become a part of this kingdom. This kingdom is still powerful. This kingdom is still stronger than the darkness of this world. This kingdom is a victorious kingdom where healing, cleansing and deliverance is still taking place.
So as citizens of this kingdom, rejoice. You are on the winning side and no longer under the authority of darkness!
Lord, thank You for making me a part of Your powerful, victorious kingdom. Sin, sickness, and oppression are not from You, and they are not for me. I am in the winning kingdom of light and love.