Matthew 10:5-8 Jesus sends out the disciples

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Phase II

At this point in Jesus’ ministry he had been teaching and healing publicly for some time, and was known by the public at large and was certainly also on the radar of the religious leaders. His disciples had been with him long enough to have learned some things about the way of the kingdom, and now Jesus was inaugurating phase II of his strategy.

In the preceding passage (Mt 9:35-38), we learn that Jesus although working very hard (Mt 9:35) was not able to meet all the needs he would have liked (Mt 9:36). Time for intern assignments for his disciples!

At that point in time they were to proclaim the message of the kingdom to the Jews only. Nothing against Samaritans and Gentiles mind you, (Jesus ministered to them as well), but just at this juncture, the disciples were still new at this, and probably best off sticking with the culture they can most naturally relate to, and perhaps were less likely to be hostile to (Mt Lk 9:51-56) at that point in their spiritual lives. Also, the beachhead among the Jews was still being established. Ministry to the Samaritans and Gentiles would come in time (Acts 1:8).

The Message

And their message? “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Twenty-first century Christians need to pause and engage with that. Note how different it is to the typical evangelical message of “Jesus will save you from your sins”. It’s a completely different approach. Contemplate what the “kingdom of heaven” is all about and investigate that, rather than heading down a sin/salvation rabbit hole on the first day in spiritual kindergarten.

This is the same message that Jesus (and John) had already been preaching. The very first words out of Jesus’ mouth in his public ministry were “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near (Mt 4:17).” Not “Repent, so that you don’t go to hell when you die.” See the difference?

Matthew 13:10-17

Then the disciples  came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know,  but it has not been given to them. For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see,  and hearing they do not listen or understand.  Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never perceive.

For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing,and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyesand hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back—and I would cure them

“But your eyes are blessed  because they do see, and your ears because they do hear!  For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.

Teaching style

“Your teaching style is different, Jesus. You tell these stories. None of the other rabbis do that. Why do you do it?” That’s essentially what his disciples are asking in this passage. “What’s the parable thing all about?”

Jesus explains that he has been crafting his preaching style as a response to the reality of the varying degrees of receptivity to be found in the hearts of men. Quoting Isaiah 6, he describes the phenomenon of the calloused heart. A heart that has reached the point of being impervious to new truth due its long history of rejecting it. By now, the excuses, finely crafted apologetics and other forms of self-talk easily deflect any new claim for attention. “No more new information please. We are closed.” is written on the sign outside the shopfront of these hearts.

Secrets of the kingdom

And so, while giving them his best shot with a memorable and pointed story Jesus does not attempt to ever forcibly pry open such a heart. There are plenty of others around who are willing to hear about “the secrets of the kingdom” and he will invest his time with them.

So, what are these “secrets of the kingdom” then, and just how secret are they? Well, Jesus is clearly in the process of revealing them (Mt 13:11) to all of those who want to listen and learn. The sentry’s challenge question is “Do you really want to come in” and the password is “Yes”. The things of the kingdom are indeed secrets but not inaccessible ones.

Jesus has just taught the parable of the sower. The secret here? Receive the words of Jesus. Allow the seed to grow. Nurture it. Make room for it in your life. We are not talking any next-level super-secret Q-drop stuff here. Other secrets? The first will be last. Blessed are the meek. The greatest among you will be your servant. The Gentiles are going to be part of this…. Hello?… are you still there?… the line’s breaking up… can you still hear me?

Matthew 12:25-28

Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Group Dynamics
There is a lesson in the dynamics of group culture to observe here about how people in different groups process and respond in different ways to the same event. The event was a clear, irrefutable and public healing  of a blind and mute man by Jesus. Profoundly life-changing for the man. Amazing and thought-provoking for the people. Deeply threatening for the Pharisees.

The text says that the people, the general local population, Jewish, but non-aligned with any particular religious group were simply “astonished”, and rightly so; it was a miraculous event, outside  experiential norms. It got them thinking, and reaching into their knowledge of Scripture for a possible explanation.

Ezekiel 34:16 speaks of how God will shepherd his sheep with justice: “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.” and links this promise of a shepherd to a prince of the line of David (Ezk 34:25). Just prior to this healing Matthew has editorially linked Jesus’ healings with Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming of God’s chosen servant (Mt 12:18-21). He is using this whole episode to really underline the point.

And so the wheels are turning in the minds of the people. “Could this be the guy? That’s really cool.”

The gathered Pharisees had a different response. This Jesus fellow was not one of their group. He didn’t do the same things they did, in fact he seemed to deliberately flaunt their long-established traditions. He didn’t look at things the same way they did. He wasn’t one of them. And, now that he is stepping onto their religious lawn, he just has to be stopped. Turning to page one of the playbook, it reads “Discredit”.  And so the talking points that went out that day said to say: “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons”. Subtext: he is not from God (like we are), he is with the opposition (the devil).

Think about it people

Jesus didn’t even have to break a sweat to dismantle their argument, just by asking the “so how would this actually work?” question. He gives them a few options to go forward with, none of them comfortable. Option 1 – your claim defies simple logic (Satan throwing himself out?, oh come on!). Option 2 – Don’t your guys do the same thing? Or is not really about casting out demons but about one of you? Or Option 3 – Jesus credits them with being able to throw out demons, but no one in the group has ever actually  managed to do it.

And the most uncomfortable of all? The truth. “If I am working with the Spirit of God, then the kingdom has come upon you” ie. “You are wrong, and no one is coming to you for your permission”.

Now, if you are used to being one of the ones in charge in a religious group, that’s a bitter pill to swallow. Maybe too bitter for some. This dynamic still plays out today. The “keepers of the truth” have their own mini-kingdoms where they rule with unassailable power. Occasionally, someone steps on their lawn by exhibiting a life of living actual kingdom participation. The ranks must close, and the discrediting must start in a desperate effort to preserve the identity of the group.


There is a choice still available though and some may take it. Nicodemus was one such as this, he was able to see that God was working through Jesus (Jn 3:2), although he still struggled to fit Jesus’ teaching into his paradigms. The very teacher of Israel needed to be born again.

Matthew 11:11-15

From The Kingdom series.

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Mt 11:11-15)

John in Jail

We are talking about John the Baptist – Jesus’ cousin and ministry fore-runner, who is now on death row for daring to call out the most powerful guy in the land over his relationship with his brother’s wife Herodias. We know how that ends – head on a platter stuff (Mt 14:1-12).

Now John was getting reports of what Jesus was doing, and it seems they didn’t quite tally with the picture John had of what the Messiah would be doing (Mt 11:2). We are not told exactly what John was concerned about, but we are privy to Jesus’ reply.

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” (Mt 11:4-6).

Jesus is quoting Isaiah. There are a few candidates:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

(Isaiah 61:1-3)

Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.

(Isa 35:4-6)

Seeing the Kingdom

Jesus is reminding John of what this coming kingdom was all about. And preaching (proclaiming the good news) and healing (the blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers, even the dead) are all part of the job! And of course this is what Jesus had been doing (Mt 9:35, Mt 10:1, 11:1). Don’t be mistaken John! This king wants to heal, wants to comfort, wants to free. This is the picture of the kingdom you need to have.

And perhaps Jesus is steadying John’s knees a little bit too. ‘Don’t stumble over this John”. “Don’t let your idea of God’s Kingdom prevent you from seeing and participating in the actual Kingdom” is the idea.

Are you listening?

Jesus had an important message about John for his hearers. Paraphrasing: “He was the return of Elijah you know.” (Mal 4:5-6, Mt 11:13-15). And, “Listen up! – are you really listening people? John was the wild-man prophet calling you to repentance and you didn’t listen to him – you called him a demon. (Mt 11:18). I came singing a different tune, eating with you, drinking with you and you didn’t listen to me either! I got called a glutton and a drunkard. So it’s not about our ministry style, it’s about your willingness to listen, to reflect, to repent. Are you really listening at all? The miracles are to show you what God is really like and to get your attention – don’t miss it.”

Least in the Kingdom

Now verse 11 and 12 are interesting.

 … whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
(Mt 11:11)
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.
(Mt. 11:12)

What is Jesus saying here? Was John not in the kingdom and now you can be? Or, is being the least in the kingdom the right seat to want to sit in, no matter who you are? This is the way of Jesus – the first will be last, and the last will be first. In his Kingdom, the reputation system is upside down. If you have worldly corporate eyes you are not going to get it.


Verse 12 sounds like a negative – violence is never good right? But other translations of the Greek word βιάζω (Biazo) choose  the sense of “forceful” rather than “violence”. Some have preached that as a positive- i.e. the kingdom is forcefully advancing, the idea being to be someone who is strong and  forceful in how you go about that ministry work. This interpretation does not chime at all well with the clear and consistent New Testament teaching about the requirement for gentleness in the character of church leaders and everybody else besides (Mt 11:29, 2 Cor 10:1, Gal 5:23, Eph 4:2, Col 3:12,1 Tim 3:3, 1 Tim 6:11,  Tit 3:2, 1 Pet 3:15). Either way, there is a very strong current flowing here. And what are they doing? ἁρπάζω (harpazo) – laying hold of the kingdom, taking it by force or advancing it? Destroying it or building it?

Context might give us a clue. Jesus is addressing the crowd about John. He is positive about the Baptist – saying that he is in a very small club – he’s an actual prophet. He was one of the greats alright. But now he’s in jail. So how do we view John as a result of that? Has he lost credibility because he is doing time? 

Perhaps Jesus is saying the actual kingdom of God is being subjected to the raids of violent non-kingdom people (like Herod) for their violent non-kingdom purposes? John was not one to dress up and live in a nice palace (like Herod), and now his life is on the line because of his kingdom convictions.

Violent political activity was a feature of the times. The zealots (one of whom became a disciple of Jesus [Mt 10:4] and who never seemed to lose his nickname! [Acts 1:13]), were a group who responded to Roman occupation through the use of military force and covert action. They would be called a terrorist group today, or at the very least dagger-armed assassins. Again, violence is not the way of the kingdom that Jesus is bringing.


The question for you, crowd, is this: Who are you going to listen to? Whose message will you be willing to accept? Are you prepared to endure the actions of violent kingdom-raiders in order to bring my kind of kingdom to the world?

Is God Really in Control?

You have heard it said “God is In control”, but now I tell you “not really”.

Well that sounds heretical. God not being in control. If this bothers you, may I suggest you stop reading this and do a quick word search on “control” in the Bible and see what your find. Here’s a handy link.

There are quite a few verses on self-control in there, and on kings controlling lands and people, but precious little on God being in any kind of control at all. In fact, if we can put our theological commitments to one side for a moment and reflect on what is going on in the world in which we are actually living we have to agree that there is actually quite a lot of chaos in it –  natural disasters, man’s inhumanity to man, human suffering, disease, and a multi-year pandemic right?

For the person who likes to think that God is in control, then you have a lot of explaining to do about the effective power of this God, or how it is that He can so cheerfully preside over this mess. It’s a difficult case to make, and one that has been troubling thoughtful people for a very long time.

Under Construction

Maybe we should revisit this idea, and posit that the world is more like some kind of giant post-war construction site full of hazards and half-built things. God is in the process of fixing it, but it’s not there yet. It’s still possible to fall down a shaft or get crushed under a collapsing wall (Lk 13:1-5). He has put up all the warning signs and written the safety manual but most people around here don’t seem to be taking much notice of those.

We humans like to be in control. At the very least, it’s safe, it’s predictable, and we can be efficient and reduce waste. At its worst, we exploit people, damage relationships, split families and create our own toxins through our exercise of control. People don’t thrive when controlled. They rebel, zone out, go slow, or die. 

Order is fine, but control – not so much. I like the fact that gravity always works, my streets are pretty safe, and the rubbish gets collected every week. Yes, order is good, and God has had a lot to do with that in our natural world. 

So if God is not in control, then how does he operate? Through strong invitation. Timeless instruction. Provision. The tools are there but you have to pick them up and learn how to use them.

Invitation and provision

Jesus said: “Come, follow me…”(Mk 1:17), “Learn from me and you will have rest for souls” (Mt 11:29).  “Try it out for a while” (Jn 7:17). That’s the invitation and instruction part. On the provision side we are told to take a lesson from the birds of the air, and notice how they all seem to get fed (Mt 6:25-34). Yes, God provides. He even sends rain on the unrighteous (Mt 5:45). God  would make a lousy control freak – giving benefits away like that.

Getting back to the construction site, God has also in a very non-controlling way had left quite a bit of the fixing up to us notoriously unreliable humans. 

The way this works is that God asks us to trust him, which means to trust that doing things His way will lead to the best outcome. But we are never forced to do this. We have completely free will – I am sure some readers of this piece did not click on the link above! That’s your free choice in action right there!

In this world, at this time, God has opposition. God is able to jump in and intervene on any occasion, but most of the time He just doesn’t. He sets out his will clearly in writing. People disobey it, and God gives them a very long leash. Just look at Old Testament history. A large part of it is the plot line of “God tells his people not to worship idols, his people worships idols, God sends prophets to warn and remind them not to worship idols, people don’t listen, God waits several hundred years before sending judgment”. A very long leash indeed.


God has jumped in of course. The incarnation – God living amongst us in the person of Jesus Christ was a radical intervention. Immanuel – God with us – was a completely intentional historical act, bringing the Kingdom of God near (Mt 4:17). Jesus laboured to communicate what this kingdom is all about. It is like no other kingdom you have ever seen. Everything is upside down. All the things we have learnt about how to get ahead do not apply in this kingdom (Lk 9:48).a

This is not to say God cannot be influenced or petitioned. This is where prayer fits in. We are encouraged to ask God to act in our world and in our lives (Mt 7:7-11,  Jn 11:22, Rom 1:10, Jas 1:5 etc.). Also, if we go back to the passages that do talk about control, we find that most of them talk about selfcontrol. So it appears that that is where the challenge really lies. God has chosen to exert his influence in the world through the self-control of those who listen to him. He is looking for partners in this project, not spectators.

Matthew 7:13-23

From The Kingdom series.

Matthew 7:13–23 (HCSB): Enter through the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction,  and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it. 

“Beware of false prophets  who come to you in sheep’s  clothing  but inwardly are ravaging wolves.  You’ll recognize them by their fruit.  Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

‘“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,  but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.  On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons  in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’  Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’   

Broad and Narrow Roads

I am trying to picture these two roads in my mind. I’m seeing something like a castle with doors to go through to enter from the outside, but then there seems to be these long roads which belong on the outside not the inside…. Maybe my mental picture is wrong. Maybe the road is the destination. This would mean that the road is more about how you live life much more than which gate you started off choosing?And what if you wanted to switch roads at some point? How does that work? Let’s pause on this one and look at the next paragraph.

Good and Bad Fruit

There are some false prophets. You are a sheep in a flock. They want to eat you. And they get close enough to you to be able to do that by dressing up as one of you – a sheep. Meek and mild on the outside but a ravenous wolf underneath. They don’t care about your welfare, they just want your production or to have you for breakfast.

The structure of this passage is interesting:

   A. Entering the kingdom through the narrow gate.

B. Watch out for the false prophets.

   A’. Entering the kingdom.

A chiasm perhaps? So maybe the whole passage relates to entering the kingdom? Certainly in the last section (v21-23) there are some surprised folks who are confident they have the right tickets – we prophesied in your name Jesus! We did a lot of things “in your name”. Jesus doesn’t even get drawn into the conversation. “I never knew you. Get out of here – lawbreakers”. How do we process this? Miracle working prophesying exorcists not making it through the door? What hope is there for the rest of us? 

Literary context

It’s helpful at this point to look at some literary context. These verses are situated right at the end of the extended body of Jesus’ teaching known as the sermon on the mount. It would not be unexpected that this might be some kind of summary of what has gone before. We have already discovered (see Mt 5:17-20) how Jesus views the Law. Jesus is all about fulfilling the law (Mt 5:17), not breaking it, so it makes sense that he did not want to be around the law-breakers of Mt. 7:23. And what law have they broken? Jesus summed up the whole law in two commandments – loving God and loving your neighbour (Mt 22:37-40, Rom 13:8-10 ). Paul gets it down to one: 

For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbour as yourself. (Gal.  5:14).

Do not owe anyone anything,  except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  The commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet;  and whatever other commandment—all are summed up by this: Love your neighbour as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbour. Love, therefore, is the fulfilment of the law. (Rom. 13:8–10)

False Prophets

So who are these false prophets then, and how may they be identified? It is someone who comes singing the right songs and with a good command of the lingo, but totally lacks a love motivation. They are there, yes even in the church, to serve their own appetites, to take and eat, rather than love and nourish. Likely too that they advocate and promote a route along that broad road.  They have not entered by the narrow gate, they are not familiar with the narrow way. No wonder Jesus says to them “I never knew you”. 

Wrapping up

Jesus has laid out his manifesto in Matthew 5-7. Now he is asking the question – are you on board with living like this? Do you want to live like a citizen in this kingdom? It’s all about this way of love – that is actually what the narrow road is.

So, “entering the kingdom” – is it a future thing or a now thing? Jesus appears to be teaching that you have to be living in it now in order to enter it later. And this narrow gate?  It’s your decision to intentionally participate in Jesus’ project for this world in this life by loving your neighbours, based on your whole life trajectory of joining Jesus in his kingdom work.

Matthew 5:17-20

From The Kingdom series.

Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter  or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

(Mt. 5:17–20)

Jesus always confounds people. He came speaking a different kind of language, used different words, and had different priorities to the teachers of his day. So therefore he came to destroy it. Or at least that must have been what people were thinking.

Why else would Jesus say: Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill? (Mt 5:17)Maybe that’s the kind of thing messianic aspirants did back in the day. Jesus is saying to them: “I am the opposite of what you think – I have come to fulfill the Law, fulfill the prophets, not destroy them”. This much is clear, but what does it mean?

Firstly, the Law is just a category name for the first five books of the Hebrew Bible – the Torah. A better word for us today might be “Instruction”. “Law” feels so, well, lawyer-ish at times. And the prophets (Nevi-I’m) is the division of the Hebrew Scriptures that cover what we recognise today as the historical and prophetic books. Here’s a link with the breakdown.

In this passage, Jesus is talking about the relationship between the Kingdom of heaven and the Law, so it’s important we understand what he is and is not saying.


Let’s take a closer look at the word translated as fulfill.  The word is πληρόω (plēroō) which carries the sense of completeness, fill to the top, accomplish, cram a net or carry out. Jesus is saying: “I’m not here to burn it all down, I’m here to show how you can actually live out the Law and Prophets in the fullest sense.” His message to his audience was “Live your life out fully by following the principles laid down in the Torah and emphasised and illustrated  in the Prophets. The way we are going to get there is by me giving you a new way to think about it.”

Passing Away

There is something troubling here for some modern-day Christians and it is the use-by date. Jesus said that “until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter (a jot or a tittle) will pass away until all things are accomplished. (Mt 5:18). It’s troubling because many of us like to think we can put that “law” stuff behind us now because we are in the age of Jesus, faith, grace and all that good stuff.

Heaven and earth passing away does seem to point to a future time in history. Even future for us. How do we deal with this? Well, “heaven and earth” is a key phrase- it reminds us of creation (Gen. 1:1,2:1, 2:4, 14:19, Ex 20:11 etc). Jesus repeats the idea towards the end of his earthly ministry:

Heaven and earth will pass away,  but My words will never pass away. (Mt. 24:35). 

Not one word from the Law or the Prophets will pass away. Not one word of his will pass away… Wait! Is Jesus saying the Law and the Prophets are his words too?

So we must turn to Paul to bolster our growing “it must be faith, not law” panic. Here’s a verse from Romans:

Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not!  On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Rom. 3:31). 

That was unexpected! Paul is saying he upholds the Law as well…. Let’s keep looking.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness  to everyone who believes. (Rom. 10:4).

Whew, that’s better. Paul must have been having an off-day when he wrote Romans 3:31.

However, the “end” here is τέλος (telos) which means end-point or culmination. So again, we are not talking about replacement of the Law but rather the perfect fulfilment of it in Christ. Not “no longer relevant” so much as “ultimate purpose”.

And there seems to be a practical implication of this for those who follow Jesus:

Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets. (Mt. 7:12)

And Romans disappoints again:

Do not owe anyone anything,  except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet;  and whatever other commandment—all are summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:8–10)

Joking of course. This passage makes the point about fulfilling the Law by actually  quoting the Law – the Ten Commandments no less, and “whatever other commandment” there may be. All are fulfilled when we learn to love like Jesus loved. Is there a theme emerging here ?

So back to the heaves and earth passing away thing. 

Dear friends, this is now the second letter  I have written to you; in both letters, I want to develop a genuine  understanding with a reminder, so that you can remember the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the command of our Lord and Savior given through your apostles. First, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days  to scoff, living according to their own desires, saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?  Ever since the fathers fell asleep,  all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” They willfully ignore this: Long ago the heavens and the earth were brought about from water and through water  by the word of God.  Through these waters the world of that time perished when it was flooded.  But by the same word,  the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment  and destruction of ungodly men. 

Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.  The Lord does not delay His promise,  as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any  to perish  but all to come to repentance. 

But the Day of the Lord  will come like a thief;   on that day the heavens will pass away  with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved,  and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming  of the day of God.  The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth,  where righteousness will dwell. (2 Pet. 3:1–13).

Let’s trace the argument. Long ago, the heavens and earth were brought about from water and through water by God’s word. (3:5). There was a judgment then – the world  perished. (3:6). By this same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for another judgment using fire – the agent of destroying judgment. (3:7) The ungodly will be destroyed at that time. 

Based on God’s promise, (3:13) there will be a new heavens and a new earth where righteousness will dwell and this is God’s ultimate destination – a perfect realm where everyone there is living in right relationship with God and each other – a world where the greatest commandments are lived out by everyone all the time.

So as a result, it is clear the life to live now is one of holy conduct and righteousness  (3:12), fulfilling the Law by loving others.

Greatest and Least

Back to our text. 

  • Practice and teaching are inseparable in Jesus’ view.
  • If you do not have righteousness you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • The least and the great.
  • Scribes and Pharisees – they would have been the religious face of society. 
  • Is Jesus saying the way of the scribes and Pharisees is even more hopeless than someone who is least in the kingdom?
  • We can easily accept the idea that breaking a law and teaching others to do so makes you the least. And that keeping and teaching them is highly valued in the Kingdom. But the idea that the most knowledgeable and prominent exponents aren’t getting into the kingdom would have been mind-blowing to the original audience.
  • We learn that the kingdom is something that must be entered. You are not automatically an insider (5:20).

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses .that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:19-20)

Jesus picks up on this  “entering the kingdom” theme later:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,  but only the one who does the will  of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons  in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’ (Mt. 7:21–23)

More on this in a future post, but Jesus is saying there is a day coming when many will be surprised they are denied entry to the kingdom. And these are the religious people! They prophesied, drove out demons and performed many miracles in Jesus’ name…. Yet somehow didn’t make it in? Jesus response is supposed to be jarring… I  never knew you, go away. You were never actually on my team. I see you as a law breaker.

But hang on, I thought we are talking about the gospel here, not the law. Isn’t everybody a lawbreaker at some point? That’s why we need the gospel after all right? What is your basis Jesus?

Turns out that Jesus does want us to keep his commands after all. And the command is to love. Is love your core project? Am I determined above all else, to act in love in all of my relationships? Do I pursue this as my priority every day? Or am I using some other measure?

Maybe Jesus is using the term “lawbreaker “ ironically. “Here is my reasoning in language you can understand. You wanted to measure your performance legally? Then let’s play that game then… did you love other people yes or no? What was it like for the people in your family? In your marriage? In your dart’s team? In your workplace? in your ministry? If they spoke at your funeral, what would they say about you?…. I rest my case.

Where Jesus wants us to get to spiritually is a place where loving God and people are the very core of our faith and how we live life. Love is what the kingdom is actually all about. And the state of things in the new heaven and earth as well.

This is a very important key to truly “getting” the gospel. It’s not about performing religious deeds, it’s not even about repenting of most of your sins. it’s about acquiring the heart to obey the greatest commands. If you don’t do that you haven’t even heard the gospel. You have to think differently about this – everybody does. And it might take a few years to really get it. Even Jesus’ disciples hadn’t quite graduated after three.

Wrapping up

So, wrapping up. How to be great in the kingdom of heaven? It’s very simple – just keep God’s commands and teach others to do the same. However if you hear that as talking about faultless execution of all 613 Torah commands you will probably just curl up in a spiritual foetal position – not even the best scribes and Pharisees fully achieve that. But if you hear it as Jesus saying you need to let all that measuring go, and acquire this heart of deep love, you can certainly be one of the greats.


  • Does this idea even attract me? Does it wildly attract me?
  • What would it look like in my life to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength? What does this even mean for me?
  • What would it look like in my life to love my neighbour as myself?
  • What does my life, my words, my actions teach others? If I am a “religious” person, would Jesus consider me to be one of the “scribes and Pharisees” based on my life and teaching?

Matthew 4:12-25

From The Kingdom series.

Matthew 4:12–25 (HCSB): When He heard that John had been arrested,  He withdrew into Galilee.  He left Nazareth behind and went to live in Capernaum  by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the sea road, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, and for those living in the shadowland of death, light has dawned.   

From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven  has come near! 


There is a lot of movement in this passage. Jesus was in Judea where he was baptised by John and been through a time of testing in the wilderness. Things were heating up with John’s arrest, so Jesus returned to Galilee region but moved head-quarters from his home town of Nazareth to Capernaum – a city of maybe 10000 people that boasted a customs office (Mt 9:9) and a centurion (Mt 8:5) presumably with his 100 soldiers or so. It was a strategic location militarily due to its situation on major north-south routes (map)  and contained two Roman-built cities (Sephorrus and Tiberius).


These cities would have been culturally Hellenistic not Jewish. In Jesus’ day Galilee was ruled by the tetrarch Herod Antipas (Lk 3:1) – son of Herod the Great who had been the Herod we read about in the birth accounts of Jesus.  John the Baptist had had a fatal encounter with this Herod (Mt 14:1-11) and although Jesus had come on to Herod’s radar (Lk 9:7-9), Jesus did not suffer the same fate at Herod’s hands (Lk 23:7-12). Herod had been curious about Jesus for some time, however when Jesus refused to play ball, Herod made his point about “who was really king here” through ridicule. 

The southern Galilean region was much more cosmopolitan and mixed-race than Jerusalem and Judea to the south. Perhaps Jesus’ message had more of a chance of getting through to people in Galilee than in the religious centre of Jerusalem. And that message was the same as John’s: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near”.

It’s the kind of message that demands a response. 

The Question

So what does it mean that the kingdom of heaven has come near, why is repentance connected to it, and what does this repentance look like?

Reading on, we can get some clues.

As  He was walking along the Sea of Galilee,  He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.  “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for  people!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 

Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. 

Jesus was going all over Galilee,  teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  Then the news about Him spread throughout Syria.  So they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics.  And He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. (Mt 4:18-25)

So we can see what Jesus is doing as he preaches this message: He is:

  • Calling some everyday people to follow him as his disciples.
  • Travelling a lot.
  • Teaching in the synagogues.
  • Preaching the good news of the kingdom.
  • Healing many.

He is gaining a large following from a diverse range of people coming from both Jewish and Gentile regions. No doubt, at this early stage, the news of his healing ministry would have accounted for a large part of the interest, but his authoritative speaking style (Mt 7:29) would have played a role as well.

So what is this good news of the kingdom? Are we any closer to finding out?


Well the healing must be part of it. Healing is certainly good news if it’s you or a loved one getting the healing, but is there   a substantive connection between the act and the content of the message? And were we really expecting healing to be part of the messiah package?

The prophets spoke of healing as being a part of future restoration (e.g. Jer. 30:17, 33:6). Ezekiel clarifies the job description of a godly leader as the opposite of: 

Ezekiel 34:4 (HCSB): You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost.  Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. 

Healing and paying attention to the plight of the sick, the injured, the strayed or the lost are very core traits of the kind of leader God is looking for in His kingdom. Jesus goes on later to amplify this further in his later teaching and in his practical ministry.

Peter was right there with Jesus during these early days (Mt 4:18), and he recalls these events a decade or so later when speaking about this business of letting the Gentiles into the kingdom:

Acts 10:34–39 (HCSB): Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism,  but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him. He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all.  You know the events  that took place throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil, because God was with Him.  We ourselves are witnesses of everything He did in both the Judean country and in Jerusalem, yet they killed Him by hanging Him on a tree.  

So we learn from Peter that what Jesus was doing was freeing people from the tyranny of the Devil. Jesus was rolling back the territory of the Devil’s rule and increasing the territory of God’s rule every time someone was healed. He was bringing God’s Kingdom to earth. And the direct result of that was major improvements in people’s lives. Peter also speaks of the good news of peace, and here he seems to be referring to an establishment of peace on a relational, cultural and racial level. Somehow this good news of the kingdom has the ability to weld together the unweldable.


Jesus is calling for a response, and that response is summed up in one word – ‘Repent”. The Greek word is μετανοέω (metanoeo) and the verb in this case is present tense, active voice, imperative mood, second person, plural. This is to say “I am calling all of you to repent now – you must repent!” The meaning of the Greek word speaks to a change of mind, or to think differently about something – an after-thought. Usually connected with sin (Lk 15:10, Lk 17:3, Acts 3:19, Acts 8:22), but not always? This after thought strand of meaning leads us to ideas of “sorrow” or “regret”. There is a Hebrew word teshuvah which is translated by this Greek word, and it carries the idea of “a turning to God”. Jesus is not specific about sin in this call to repentance, so perhaps he is looking for a whole-of-life allegiance and purpose level of changed thinking. Jesus is saying: “Following me into this kingdom of God is a completely new ball game, a whole new way of thinking and operating, a whole new set of priorities, attitudes and markers – so different from the way you are living now. We are saying good-bye to religious-act style religion and getting into bringing God’s kingdom and following Jesus style. Reflect on that!”

In fact his whole ministry approach seems to be quite new. Calling fishermen to be disciples? Dealing with the sick? A ministry focussed on people – catching men and working with them. On the road a lot. First century rabbis had their cream-of-the-crop talmidim for sure, but there is something different about this guy.

The euangelion

And then there is this good news of the kingdom (Mt 4:17). Sometimes translated as the gospel or glad tidings, the Greek word is εὐαγγέλιον – euangelion. This word pre-existed Jesus but Jesus is giving it a new twist.

In Jesus’ day, euangelion was a word used in proclamations in the political world. A well-known example is from the so-called Priene calendar inscription, published in 9 BC. It was found in Priene (an Ancient Greek city in the west of Turkey) in 1899. It reads:

“Since Providence which ordains all things in our life, has restored enterprise and love of honor, it has accomplished for [our] life the most perfect thing by producing the August One, whom it has filled with virtue for the welfare of the people; having sent him to us and ours as a Saviour who should stop war and ordain all things. Having appeared, however, the Caesar has fulfilled the hope of prophecies, since he has not only outdone the benefactors who had come before him, but also has not left to future ones the hope of doing better; the birthday of this God has become through him a beginning of the good tidings.

The purpose of the inscription was to announce a realignment of the calendar to begin with the birthday of emperor. Notice the themes going on here : the emperor is a Saviour, he fulfills prophecies, he is God, his birth is extremely significant, and the very coming of this king is good news – the euangelion. 

Sound familiar? The gospel writers portray Jesus as a direct challenger to the gospel of Rome. Jesus brings the true gospel of peace (Eph 6:19), not a Pax Romana enforced by the tip of a spear.

Matthew 5:1-10

From the The Kingdom series.

Matthew 5:1–10 (HCSB)

The Beatitudes

Itinerant preacher goes up mountain, sits down on the ground and starts to teach his followers.

The Beatitudes. The blessings. The makarisms.

When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain,  and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  Then  He began to teach them, saying: “The poor in spirit are blessed,  for the kingdom of heaven  is theirs.  Those who mourn are blessed,  for they will be comforted.  The gentle are blessed,  for they will inherit the earth.  Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed,  for they will be filled.  The merciful are blessed,  for they will be shown mercy.  The pure in heart are blessed,  for they will see God.  The peacemakers are blessed,  for they will be called sons of God.  Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed,  for the kingdom of heaven  is theirs.“ 

So this how God wants us to be then? Find something to mourn about?  If we live out these 8 points  we will get some kind of blessing? Or maybe this is a handy to-do list to get through before you die so you can get into heaven?

That is not the way to read the Beatitudes.

One clue is that there is a phrase that book-ends these verses – v3 an v10 both mention the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps Jesus is talking about the way the kingdom of heaven operates. He is describing what it is like when the kingdom is reigning. It is a complete reversal of everything the world holds dear. This kingdom is starting to look like an upside down world where the loser wins. Right up front in this block of Jesus’ teachings the blueprint is being laid out. The kingdom is near (Mt 4), and this is what it looks like (Mt 5).

Look at it:

  • In V3 poor in spirit gain the kingdom.
  • In V4 mourners are comforted.
  • In V5 the gentle get the inheritance.
  • In V6 the hungry are filled.
  • In V7 the merciful get mercy.
  • In V8 the pure get to see God.
  • In V9 the peacemakers will be in God’s family.
  • In V10 the persecuted get the kingdom.

Normally, the poor in spirit get trampled, the mourners get depressed, the gentle get nothing, the hungry starve, the merciful get taken advantage of, the pure get laughed at, the peacemakers lose territory and the persecuted get locked up.

But now Jesus is saying that his followers will have a different spirit and way of behaving in this life because they want to bring the kingdom of God to this earth. They will no longer operate using the ways of the world. Instead they employ meekness, mercy, and a desire for peace rather than a desire for division. And the world will think they are nuts for doing it. Nice guys finish last right?

But Jesus knows all this and still says that “in My kingdom – this is how we do things. And if you do too, you stand to gain more than you ever could have got through conventional means.’ 

A little word-study

It is easy for us to miss the radicalness of Jesus’ words. His listeners were tired of persecution and oppression. They were ready for a proper fight with their Roman occupiers and likely would have lined up behind any leader who looked like they could mount a decent attack. And now here is Jesus doing his first big stump speech to the expectant crowd telling them that being a merciful peacemaker is the key to their success.

Not only that, but the Greek word used here being translated as blessed, or happy is μακάριος (makarios). This is not your everyday level of happiness. This word describes those who enjoy the absolute best of everything – no mourning or hunger here. Jesus is insulting them now (at least to Greek readers).

The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint or LXX) uses this same word  to translate the Hebrew word אֶשֶׁר(pronounced esher ) which occurs 45 times. For example, Deut 33:29 says:

How happy you are, Israel! 
Who is like you, 
a people saved by the Lord? 
He is the shield that protects you, 
the sword you boast in. 
Your enemies will cringe before you, 
and you will tread on their back

The whole book of Psalms kicks off with this word:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, (Ps 1:1).

And a few more:

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Ps 32:1).

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. (Ps 119:1)

Jesus’ audience would have known these Psalms. This type of blessedness comes about from the choices you make about the way you walk. In sync with the Lord, or something else? Your life will go well if you wisely choose to listen to God’s instruction. 

There is also this blessing of having your sins covered (Deut 33:29, Ps 32:1). This has always been part of God’s kingdom plans.

So blessedness seems to be a condition of being in God’s protective realm. Your physical life might not be all that great right now (mourning, hunger), but you still are blessed.

What to do

Do not make economic calculations here, the gain is of far greater value than simple cash – you get to gain the kingdom, receive true comfort, inherit the very earth itself, be filled, receive great mercy, and get to see God, be sons of God, and did I say, receive the kingdom?

So, sit down and listen up! Hearts, ears and minds open. You are in for a radical re-education about what it really means to serve God. 

Matthew 6:33

From The Kingdom series.
We need to read around this verse a bit.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

(Mt 6:33)

Matthew 6:19–24 (HCSB)

“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures  on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven,  where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! 

“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money. 

Matthew 6:25–34 (HCSB)

“This is why I tell you:  Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?  Can any of you add a single cubit to his height  by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!  If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith?  So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters  eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God  and His righteousness,  and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own

What do I notice here?

  • Do not worry about your life (eat/drink) or body (clothing).
  • God provides these things.
  • God values you.
  • Little Faith = inability to trust in God’s provision.
  • In fact it is idolatry to seek these (physical) things.
  • Rather, seek the kingdom of God as your priority, and God will take care of the physical needs.
  • Today, tomorrow and worry.

Jesus has made worry a spiritual issue. It goes to being able to trust that God is in the business of providing for needs. This is God’s character, He is a giver, a provider, a blesser.

Food, drink, clothes

In the previous chapter we have been taught to pray “give us this day our daily bread” with the obvious call-back to God’s provision of manna in the wilderness (Ex 16, Num 11, Deut 8). The reflective Deuteronomist says: “ He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deut 8:3). This is the verse Jesus uses to fend off Satan’s temptation in the wilderness to make bread out of rocks. So maybe some hunger is not such a bad thing? It can be a teacher for us to rely on God rather than on the physical.

As to what you are to drink (Mt 6:5) – we have the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarepath (1 Ki 17). Elijah runs out of water in one place, asks for a drink in another (1 Ki 17:8) and God comes through magnificently, with a widow and her son sharing the blessings for months.

And clothes? Solomon in all his splendour was not dressed like of these! And one greater than Solomon is here (Mt 12:42).


There is a common underlying theme here of learning to be dependant on God on a daily basis. This is there to train our hearts to not forget about our need for God and also to not fantasise destructively into the future. There is wisdom in the time-boxing interval of a single day. 

It’s starting to feel like Jesus is saying something about cultivating a heart that listens and depends on Him and his words as a daily habit, rather than operating from a default setting of unmetered preoccupation with merely human concerns and worries.
So, maybe this whole passage is really about having an intentional focus on today. Live life out today, and be concerned with bringing God’s kingdom to earth where you are, today. Don’t fall into the trap of dreaming about future prosperity, nice meals or fancy clothes, or going the other way and being anxious about the prospect of there being nothing to eat at all.

Genuine Need

This teaching may seem to be cold comfort to the one who is genuinely in need and has no idea about where even their very next meal is coming from. Or where they will sleep that night. They have clothes for today and they will wear the same again tomorrow, but these clothes rob dignity on both days. Perhaps if you are sharing this passage with such a person, then their immediate problem is solved because it would be impossible for you not to be the on-the-ground deliverer of God’s providence! The Good News for a person in need like this is that the gospel demands compassionate responses from Jesus’ followers to alleviate the suffering of people like them. 


This paragraph has just been preceded by Jesus’ teaching about attitudes to money and possessions. In summary: Be a slave of God, not a slave of money. The two passages are connected. “This is why I tell you don’t worry about your life…” Jesus says. Jesus reveals the truth that worry is connected to where you are placing your affections – we call them concerns or even needs, but the truth is that it is the desires of our hearts that produce worry.  See that your “what shall I eat?” or “what shall I wear?” questions are nothing more than  smoke-screens – palatable-sounding excuses for your idolatrous greed. Well Jesus sees right through it!

If you really are a slave of God as you claim, then these worries would simply wither and die because your heart would be such inhospitable soil for greed to even take root. Such a heart provides no nourishment for these desires, as it so full of the mission of gathering treasures in heaven through bringing the kingdom to earth rather than seeking out treasures there.


Some people do struggle with anxiety as a clinical condition. Such anxiety may not necessarily be connected with what this passage is talking about, but connected with other factors such as trauma and chemical imbalances. God loves too much to be the source of pat answers such as “you need to just trust God more and everything will work out.” He values personal connection and a walking alongside with those in need. “Blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the poor” remember? In His kingdom it is the disenfranchised and vulnerable that have the special honour. This may take some time to work out in practice in our world, but this is the direction God has set for his disciples to follow. In the meantime, Php 4:6-10 is wonderfully practical in dealing with anxiety and worry.

Philippians 4:6–9 (HCSB): Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses  every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

Finally brothers, whatever is true,  whatever is honorable,  whatever is just,  whatever is pure,  whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence  and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received  and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. 

The key here is in verse 6: make your request! What is it exactly you would like God to do for you in this anxious situation? Simply being able to identify what would actually help and presenting that in a request to God can be a major step forward for the anxious mind. Maybe even write it down.


So, seek first the kingdom. What does it mean? From the analysis above it’s something about being in step with how God wants to operate in this world. If we partner up with Him, His kingdom advances and we get to be less worried!