Jesus came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Matthew 4:17-25 tells us of this beginning of Jesus’ ministry of preaching. We see the topics of His message (verses 17, 23):
- The Kingdom is at hand.
We see His disciples respond to this message (verses 20, 22):
- They left their nets/boats/families.
- They followed Jesus.
Finally we see the vindication of His message (verses 23-25):
- He heals the sick.
- Great crowds follow after Jesus.
These are necessary verses to put the Sermon on the Mount into its proper context. When Jesus sees these crowds following after Him, He ascends up on a mountain, calls His disciples in close, and begins to teach them more accurately the good news of the Kingdom. The good news is this (according to 5:3-12);
- We are ‘Blessed'(supremely favored by God, we bask in the face of God as revealed in Jesus Christ, who for a time suffered the disfavor and ‘woe’ of God that we might live in this blessed state).
- We have a present citizenship in the Kingdom.
- We have a future hope of a revelation of the Kingdom.
- Our circumstances here do not always reflect the true reality as God sees it.
- Our present manner of life has eternal consequences.
- Our present treatment by the world works for us a greater weight of glory.
- We should respond to the call of repentance by renouncing all that holds us in the kingdom of darkness and follow our King, Jesus Christ.
- We should have a joyful spirit which displays itself through the physical emotion of happiness even in the midst of poverty, mourning, hunger, thirst, and persecution.
- We should conduct ourselves in a meek, merciful, pure, peacemaking manner in the midst of a world that seeks to dominate, threaten, defile, and separate us from the love of Christ.
- We should be known by our joyfulness as we rejoice and are glad that we have been worthy to suffer after the manner of our Lord and Savior who endured such hostility from sinners so that He might redeem us from our sin and produce these marks of true religion in us.