The Kingdom of Heaven | Matthew 4:17


From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12-13)


If we were asked to sum up Jesus’ ministry on earth into one sentence, we would likely receive a wide-variety of answers. Some might suggest the Golden Rule. Others might offer the greatest commands: love God and love people. Still others might say, “Judge not.” Biblically, however, the Gospels give us a one sentence summary of Jesus’ ministry and teachings: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mark gives a slightly different version, still with the same message, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” In Luke, Jesus explicitly says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” Jesus saw His purpose on earth as bringing and proclaiming the kingdom of heaven.

This is certainly in line with the Old Testament. God promised David an offspring with an eternal kingdom in 2 Samuel 7. Daniel receives a vision of this Davidic King in Daniel 7. And Isaiah prophesies of the King’s coming kingdom in Isaiah 9. In fact, the Jews of Jesus’ day were primarily waiting for the Messiah (or Christ) so that He could establish His kingdom, freeing them from Roman rule. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, who was doing just that.

As we will learn through our study on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the kingdom of heaven did not come as the Israelites expected. Jesus did not build an army and overthrow the Romans; rather, He preached a kingdom that functioned opposite to almost every human impulse. He claimed that God’s kingdom belongs to the poor, meek, and persecuted and that citizens of the kingdom would not strike down their enemies but pray for them in love. This Sermon twists our behaviors and moralities on their head, giving us a standard of living only achieved through perfection. These words should break our natural ideas of being good, making us painfully aware of our spiritual poverty. But in this brokenness, Jesus’ message truly becomes good news, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Read verse 17 and discuss the following.

  1. What is the Sermon on the Mount?
  2. What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
  3. Why does Jesus call us to repent?


  • Obey. As Jesus urges us to do in our text, repent. If you already follow Christ, continue to repent of sin. If you have not decided to follow Christ, repent today “that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
  • Pray. As Jesus will guide us to do in Matthew 6, pray for God’s kingdom of come on earth as it is in heaven. We can pray this in at least three ways. First, remember that Jesus is your king and worship Him as such. Second, pray for the Lord to use you to expand the kingdom today through sharing the gospel. Third, pray for God’s kingdom to come fully with the return of Christ.

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