Soon afterward, Jesus traveled from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with Him,
Matthew 4:23) we read that Jesus went about all Galilee, "preaching the gospel of the kingdom;" here we read of the same thing in a very slightly different form - "showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God." It will clear away all possible confusion of thought respecting "the gospel" and "the kingdom" if we dwell upon the gospel (or the glad tidings) of the kingdom.
I. THE KINGDOM OF GOD. This kingdom of God, or of heaven, or of Christ (for our Lord sometimes spoke of it as his own), is something transcendently nobler than anything which the most pious or the most sanguine Jew ever hoped for in his heart or pictured in his imagination (see homily on Luke 1:31-33). As Jesus Christ conceived it, and as it will be when it has been fully and finally established, this glorious kingdom is or is to be:
1. A kingdom of God; one in which God himself will be the one Sovereign, all men everywhere being his subjects, owning his sway and loyal to his will
2. An essentially spiritual kingdom; all the obedience and submission rendered being that of the heart and the will, as well as of the tongue and the hand.
3. A righteous kingdom; in which every citizen will act in accordance with "the golden rule" (Luke 6:31).
4. A beneficent kingdom; the spirit of kindness, of practical helpfulness, animating every subject.
5. A universal kingdom; coextensive with the human race.
6. An everlasting kingdom; going down to the remotest generation. Such, in its purity, its nobility, its inherent greatness, its absolute uniqueness, is the "kingdom of God."
II. THE GOSPEL (THE GLAD TIDINGS) OF THE KINGDOM. The features of this kingdom which so much commend it to the hearts of erring, sinful, dying men, constituting "the glad tidings of the kingdom," are:
1. That entrance into it is open to every child of man. This is now so familiar to us as to be quite commonplace. But lock at it in the light of the doctrine of Divine favouritism once prevalent; in the light of the incident recorded in the fourth chapter of this Gospel (vers. 23-29); - then we cannot be too thankful that the gates of this blessed kingdom are open, stand wide open, to every comer - to the poor, to the despised, to the neglected, to the barbarous, to those whom men may consider irrecoverable or not worth redeeming.
2. That its Divine Sovereign is actively seeking all souls, that they may enter. It is not only that no one is excluded; the good news, the glad tidings, is more and better than that - it is that every one is being individually, lovingly invited, nay, pressed and urged to enter; it is that out into the "far country" of forgetfulness and dislike the heavenly Father goes in parental yearning, and bids each wandering child "Return;" it is that away over hill and mountain of estrangement and guilt the good Shepherd goes, seeking and finding and bringing back the sheep which was lost; it is that long and lovingly, at the door of each human soul, the patient Saviour stands and knocks, and cries, "If any man will open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him."
3. That admission is open to every humble and trustful soul at once. If we have grieved some human friend and become estranged from him, and if there be a proposal to seek reconciliation, our decision will probably be determined by the consideration whether we shall be at once fully restored or whether there will be a long interval before full reconciliation is effected. It is the gospel (the glad tidings) of the kingdom of God that every penitent and believing soul is immediately and without any delay whatever taken into the favour of God. As soon as the submissive spirit of the man says, "Father, I have sinned," so soon is grace bestowed, so soon is the name entered on the roll of the heavenly citizenship.
4. That citizenship now means citizenship for ever. It is a large part of the gospel of Jesus Christ that this earth is only an antechamber of the Father's house, or only a small outlying province of his boundless empire. To be a faithful citizen here and now means being a happy citizen somewhere for evermore. Life under the benign sway of this heavenly King is not counted by years or decades; it is without a bound; it is continued, perpetuated, in other regions of his glorious domain. This is the "glorious gospel" of the kingdom. Is it well to wait for a better? Dare we hope that, if we reject these glad tidings, we shall over hear any that we shall accept? "Behold, now is the accepted time." - C.
He went throughout every city and village, preaching.
Essex Congregational Remembrancer.I. WE HAVE HERE THE SUBJECT OF OUR LORD'S MINISTRY — "the glad tidings of the kingdom of God." In these words there is a manifest allusion to the predictions in which the prophets foretold the dispensation of grace and truth by Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated "kingdom" is of a more extensive meaning than the English one by which it is rendered, being equally adapted to express both the terms "reign" and "kingdom." The first relates to the time or duration of the sovereignty, the second to the place or country over which it extends. Yet although it is much oftener the time than the place that is alluded to in the Gospels, it is never in our common version translated "reign," but always "kingdom." The expression is thereby often rendered obscure and awkward, as for instance, when motion is applied to a kingdom; when it is spoken of as coming, approaching, being near at hand, and the like. The word is rightly translated "kingdom" when it refers to the state of perfect felicity to be enjoyed in the world to come; but it is not always thus rendered with the same propriety when it relates to the reign of Christ, by His truth and Spirit upon earth. If, therefore, it be asked, when did the reign of heaven properly begin? we answer, When that prediction in the Psalms was fulfilled — "Thou hast ascended up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive; Thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God (the Holy Spirit) might dwell amongst them." To a limited extent Jesus reigned before His ascension. He pardoned sins, promulgated laws, and brought very many under the dominion of His truth and grace. But the plenitude of the Holy Spirit's miraculous gifts and sanctifying influences was reserved till Christ was glorified, to grace His inauguration as King of Zion; as monarchs when they are crowned, although they may have reigned some time before, on that great occasion bestow favours on their subjects, and elevate sonic to distinctions and honours.
II. WE NOW PROCEED TO CONSIDER THE SCENE OF OUR LORD'S MINISTRY. He preached in Judaea, and Samaria; in Jerusalem, in Sychar; but His time was chiefly spent in the towns and villages of Galilee — a distant and despised province, which the inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judaea regarded with such contempt that it was asked, " Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" One would think that had our Saviour intended that secular princes should rule in His Church, that the head of the State should by virtue of His office be also the head of the Church within His dominions, instead of spending so much of His time in Galilee, He would have converted Herod, and given him authority to settle all matters of doctrine and discipline for His subjects.
1. We have fully revealed to us and in our possession that truth by which Christ reigns, and accomplishes His gracious purposes. No new, additional revelation will be granted to the end of time.
2. We have Christ, enthroned in universal dominion, full of grace and power, present by His Spirit, with all His faithful servants, to make His truth effectual in the accomplishment of the purposes of eternal mercy.
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
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