After Jesus has taken time to select His apostles and send them to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, today He instructs His disciples on what to say, what to do, and how to continue the work of preaching the kingdom of God and touching souls.
The Central Message of the Gospel.
As Jesus sends the apostles today, He gives them the central message of the gospel. This central message of the gospel is like the pivotal point of whatever they are to preach and this is the first instruction that Jesus gives to them, today. He says “As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”.
The central message of the gospel is that the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel. Therefore, the apostles have to tell the people to repent and accept God into their hearts. He is now near to them with the coming of the Messiah.
Therefore, this is the time to allow God to reign in our hearts and a time for total submission to the will of God. This moment can come only when we change and repent from our sins.
This mission is for every follower of Jesus. It is an invitation to repent from our sins. It is a call to live our lives first in touching and conversion of souls, inviting them into the kingdom of God, where God alone lives and reigns.
John the Baptist began this central message. He came and was telling the people, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” ( Matthew 3:1-3).
The gospel of Mark 1 reveals that John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All the country of Judea and Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins ( Mark 1:4).
After His temptation, Jesus also continues this central message of the gospel. He came into Galilee, saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15, Matthew 4:17).
Also, when Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection, He reminded them that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem ( Luke 24:47 ). He further sends them to be witnesses to the ends of the earth ( Acts 1:8).
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells the people who came to Him seeking miracle; seek you first the kingdom of God.
Therefore, seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness is the central message of the gospel. It is a message of repentance, a message of seeking God first and living the way wants, giving Him the chance to rule in our hearts. As a Christian, this should be the first priority.
Healing and Deliverance.
After Jesus has given them the central message of the gospel, He then commands them to heal, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and drive out demons.
In essence, what Jesus means is that, as they are preaching this message of repentance and God’s kingdom, they can also heal and liberate souls.
So, we are also called to heal the brokenhearted, bind emotional wounds and save the sick. These are part of the mission and very important but not the core. God sends us to make people change their hearts and allow Him to reign in our lives.
It is disheartening today that some churches rarely preach repentance and salvation. The central message of the gospel seems to be losing its foothold. Our emphasis is gradually circumventing only on the parts. We are only becoming interested in the miracle. It is like someone praying for a change but has refused to change.
Sometimes, when we go to church and what was preached is not what we want to hear, we become bored. What we want to hear is only prosperity, healing, deliverance etc and this is why evil is on its increase. We will shout amen many times and still go home to live in hatred and disunity. Even many who perpetrate evil will go and receive blessings and yet come back to where they started. A kidnapper, a scammer etc will be praying that God helps him and sends more money to His account. God does not support evil. He needs our repentance.
The first demand Jesus needs from us is to have a change of heart and allow God to reign in our souls. It is not how far we rush in searching for miracles. This is the reason many become disappointed when they think God did not give them their request. Because their interest is only on the miracle and reward. Then when God decides to test them, they become disappointed that God did not give them any reward.
Our God is not an ATM machine, that you go and withdraw money anytime you want and hence go back to square one. We truly need to show God that we are His children by changing our lives.
Therefore, let us not forget the central message of the gospel. Matthew 6:33 says “seek you first the Kingdom of God and righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. But we are busy looking for those things that God will add, forgetting the central message of the gospel. Let us strive to know God more and allow Him to reign in our hearts. This is the first and the topmost priority.
A Warning to Us.
Today, Jesus ends his instructions with a warning. He says “And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you go out of the town, shake the dust from your feet. I tell you solemnly, on the day of Judgement it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah as with that town”.
Hence, “If we reject the central message of the gospel, if we refuse to welcome the people God sends to us to bring us back to Him, if we hear and harden our hearts, if we refuse to hearken to His word, we are also bringing judgements on our selves.
Also, if we reject God’s invitation to repent and refuse to allow Him to reign in our hearts, we bring condemnation on ourselves. He compared us who hate His word and the central message with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. It will be easier for Sodom than anyone who totally rejects the word.
Therefore, when God gives us his word He expects us to respond to it positively. How we respond to it is a sign that we are either for or against Him.
May God have mercy on us and give us the grace to change and repent from our sins. Amen