Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Kingdom Puts Things Right

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew 3:1-2 (NIV)

When John the Baptist announced the coming of Jesus, he linked His coming to the nearness of the kingdom of God. But when Jesus arrived on the scene, John protested about baptizing Jesus, arguing that Jesus should be the One baptizing him.

Jesus responded by explaining,

"Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Matthew 3:15 (NIV)

But I like the way that Eugene Peterson puts is in his book titled The Message:

"Do it. God's work, putting things right all these centuries,is coming together right now in this baptism." Matthew 3:15 (The Message)

In the very first recorded public words spoken by Jesus, He tells us that things need to be put right. The coming of the kingdom of God, which John had referred to earlier in the chapter, is about things being put right, about things being brought into alignment with God. I picture a checkbook being balanced, debits and credits being brought into sync.

If we go back to Isaiah 40, to the passage which foretells of John's coming and his message about Jesus, we see this same theme:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God..." Isaiah 40:3 (NKJV)

The kingdom of God is about making crooked things straight. Jesus' work is kingdom work. Salvation is the first step of entry into the kingdom of God. With that step, God begins to make the crooked things straight. But being born again is only God's first step for us. The work of allowing God to put things right in us, to make us straight, to bring us into alignment with Him, is the ongoing, lifetime task of bringing His kingdom into our lives.


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