A CHRISTIAN pastor is not only commanded to follow Jesus Christ, but also to learn from Him. A faithful servant carefully watches the works his master does, and tries to imitate him or do what he sees him doing. One of the things faithful pastors do is that they learn to preach the core message Christ Jesus and His early apostles preached and taught.
Now, what message did Jesus preach and teach? Throughout His ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ preached and taught people about the Good News of the kingdom of God with signs and wonders accompanying Him. “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction” (Matthew 9:35). “Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God…” (Luke 8:1).
Even though the Lord Jesus taught about love, forgiveness, sin, giving, prayer, fasting and other subjects or topics, He did not forget His central message – the Good News of the kingdom of God – “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).
What time was our Saviour referring to? He was referring to the time foretold by the prophets when the kingdom would be at hand. The expression “at hand” means present, close, nearby or happening. Also, the phrase “the kingdom of God” which can be translated as 'the government of God' talks about the royal rule, reign, sovereignty or power of God.
Therefore, “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” means that the era foretold by the Old Testament prophets concerning the special manifestation of the rule, power, reign or sovereignty of God was at work among His people, and that people should repent and believe in the gospel. That is, people should repent and believe in the message and in the messenger.
It is impossible to separate Jesus Christ from the Good News He preached. He is the way, the truth and the life of the kingdom. One day, when the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them that the kingdom of God was “within them” (Luke 17:20-21, KJV). Now, the expression “within them” did not mean the kingdom was within their hearts at the time as many have interpreted it to be.
Rather, it meant the kingdom was in their midst or it was among them, pointing to Jesus who was in their midst or among. Jesus Christ was the possessor and carrier of the Good News and the rule, power, reign or sovereignty of God. This is why Christ implored the Jews to believe in Him and His works (John 10:37-38). But we can say that after the resurrection, every disciple filled with the Spirit of Christ has the kingdom of God within their hearts.
As Jesus Christ preached the Good News, He also demonstrated the power of God by healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, opening the blind eye, turning water into wine, calming the stormy sea, raising the dead and setting the captive free to confirm it.
When John sent his disciples to inquire from Jesus whether He was the Christ or they should expect another, Jesus used His preaching of the Good News to the poor and the demonstration of the miracle-working power of the kingdom to confirm who He was – the Christ (Luke 7:22).
Jesus preached the Good News of the kingdom of God and also wrought miracles, signs and wonders. He used parables to explain how the Kingdom of God works. It is important to state that the phrases “the kingdom of God” and “the kingdom of Heaven” can be used interchangeably. The Lord Jesus used the parables to explain the mysteries of the kingdom of God.
This is commonly found in Matthew chapter 13. The Lord knew His mandate, assignment and purpose of His birth, ministry and death. He stuck to His mission and fulfilled it to the glory of His Father who sent Him. I mean He worked the work of Him who sent Him (John 9:4). He finished it all and was given a name that was above every other name in heaven, on earth and beneath the earth for His obedience to the command of His Father.
Now, let us consider the message the early apostles also preached and taught. They, like their Master, preached the gospel. As Christ gave them the keys (gifts, divine abilities, empowerment by the Holy Spirit) of the kingdom of Heaven, they opened and explained the mysteries of God.
In his letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul implored the believers to regard him and the other apostles as stewards of the mysteries of God. He wanted them to understand that they were not the Saviour, but gifted servants appointed by Christ to explain the hidden truths of the kingdom to the saints (1 Cor. 4:1).
In fact, they, like the Lord Jesus, knew their assignment or the message they were expected to preach and teach. There were many things they could preach and teach about to address the plights of the people of their day. But the foundational apostles ignored all of those and preached the message given to them. And the message was Jesus Christ – the gospel of Jesus.
By James Quansah
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