We have now finished the references to kingdom in Mark (and parallels) and Q. Now we turn to references to kingdom found only in Matthew. We begin with Matthew 3:2: In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, ?Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.? 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
?A voice of one calling in the desert,
Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.? ? .
1. John the Baptist preaches the same message we have seen of Jesus. Is this a way of drawing John into Jesus’ orbit or a way of showing continuity? Is is a summary capsule, in Jesus’ words, or more of the wording of John? We’ll probably not know.
2. Proximity in time (and in a sense space) creates urgency for response: since the kingdom’s arrival is imminent, it is time to respond by repentance.
3. Which means sin and the system have got to go if one wants to participate in the kingdom.
4. John is the figure announced in Isaiah, which means John’s message anticipates the message of Jesus … which puts back in the old observation we have been making routinely about kingdom: kingdom and Jesus are inseparable.
5. What John is announcing is not just a cute metaphor but, as Isaiah’s sweeping announcement shows, the Return of the glorious one, of God, to Zion. (Think about that one for a bit.)
6. Isaiah also tells us that the whole world will see this happen.