Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
So much is contained in these nine words. Prophecy: the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Call: repent! Promise: If you repent, you will be part of the kingdom. Warning: if you do not repent, you will not be part of the kingdom. This message is first proclaimed from the lips of John the Baptist, the voice preparing the way for Messiah. It is later proclaimed from our Lord himself as he begins his public ministry: the divine King has issued an invitation into his kingdom.
As we begin another Christmas season let us remember these words from Jesus. He did not step from Heaven to take on flesh just to remain in our minds as the baby in a cradle. He came to establish a kingdom.
Christian, rejoice! The kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Even now it is in your midst, even now it is within you. Christ has come and has established his rule in the hearts of his people. You have received the promised kingdom. We await the day of the second advent, the return of our Lord to establish his kingdom over all the earth. While we wait we rejoice, shouting with thanks to God for his work among mankind.
While we rejoice, we share. We echo the message of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, crying out for sinners to repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is even now in their midst and while it holds great promise for those within, it holds great terrors for those without.
John the Baptist prepared the way for the first coming of Christ. We are told in Matthew 3:5 that all Jerusalem and Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him. Today we do not find John the Baptist proclaiming this message of repentance. Today we find the children of God, called in Acts 1:8 to be the witnesses of God in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. To prepare for the first coming of Christ the people were drawn in to hear the gospel. To prepare for the second, we are sent out.
On to Jerusalem! On to Judea and Samaria! On to the ends of the earth! Crying repent! Come to Christ! Delight now in the marvelous character of God! His kingdom is at hand! It is a wasted Christmas if these thoughts do not take root within you.