The Gospel of the Kingdom
When studying a passage of Scripture, I think it's very important to consider not only who is speaking, but also to whom the passage is addressed. Who is the intended audience? If we can determine that, we'll usually be able to add to our understanding of the passage itself.
Let's look at Matthew 10:5-7 for an example:
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.’"
To whom is Jesus speaking? The 12 Apostles, right? He's giving them instructions about a gospel message He wants them to deliver to the "lost sheep of Israel." He specifically tells them He doesn't want this message to go out among the Gentiles. The message is, "The kingdom of heaven has come near." Why wouldn't Jesus want Gentiles to hear that message? Well, because it wasn't meant for them, of course!
You see, Jesus purposefully spent His years of earthly ministry preaching exclusively to Israel. He tirelessly walked the lands of Galilee and Judea, repeatedly proving with many signs and wonders He was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies regarding Israel's Messiah. He was the promised king!
During His earthly ministry, Jesus' gospel message was essentially: "Israel, I'm your king! The prophets spoke of Me. Don't you recognize Me? I'm here to establish My kingdom! This is good news, Israel!"
Of course, Jesus knew Israel wouldn't recognize Him as their king. And He knew the gospel of the kingdom wasn't the only gospel message that would ultimately go out. Once His work on the cross was finished, He knew there would be another gospel message preached. And that gospel would be preached among all the nations—to Israel and Gentiles alike.
Next Time: The Gospel of Grace.