The One Sentence That Says It All

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There is one sentence in the Bible that sums up what Jesus taught about more than anything else. This one sentence sheds light on who Jesus saw himself to be and what he saw himself accomplishing.

However, many of us in the church today would not even be able to identify what this one sentence actually is or where to find it in the Bible. Many followers of Jesus fail to even know the one sentence that sums up Jesus’ main teaching. That’s like being a baseball player but not knowing that the main objective of the game is to score runs and get outs.

We need to rediscover this one sentence so that we can respond to Jesus and what he taught appropriately and also share the message of Jesus and who he really is accurately.

The Forerunner

Now, to better understand the main message of Jesus and how he viewed his own ministry, we need to look at the life and message of an important man who preceded him. John the Baptist was a bold prophet with a dynamic message, and people were responding to him and his message.

John declared that the people of Israel had failed to live up to their responsibility of being the holy nation of God. Therefore, God was getting ready to judge the people of Israel. So John the Baptist was warning the people to confess their sin and wholeheartedly turn back to God if they wanted to be saved from what he described as “the wrath to come”.

This was a very dynamic message that demanded a response from everyone who heard it, and Matthew sums up this dynamic message in this one sentence found in 3:2, “Repent, for the kingdom of God has arrived.”

This was the message that started a new religious movement in the region. But another key aspect of John’s message was that he taught constantly about Someone Greater that was about to come along after him who was going to take this message to the next level. That Someone Greater was of course, Jesus himself.

John the Baptist was the forerunner who prepared the way for what Jesus was going to do and actually fulfill himself. And the moment Jesus begins his ministry, guess what his main message was? In 4:17, Matthew begins his account of Jesus ministry with these words:

“And from that time on, Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of God has arrived.”

The one sentence that sums up what Jesus taught more than anything else is that one verse, “Repent, for the kingdom of God has arrived.”

When you think of Jesus and his teaching and his way of life, you have to think about his announcement of the kingdom or you’re missing who he saw himself to be and what he saw himself accomplishing. Jesus mentions the kingdom of God over fifty times in the gospel of Matthew alone. Matthew and Mark sum up Jesus’ entire message in one sentence, “Repent for the kingdom of God has arrived.” And in Luke’s gospel, Jesus says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

So let’s rediscover this sentence by looking at the two big words in it — kingdom and repent.

What exactly is the kingdom of God?

One of the first things that we need to understand about the kingdom of God is that it is not primarily a place. It is not a place where we go when we die or a place that is going to finally come to earth at the end of history or a place that we are supposed to set up here on earth. It is not primarily a place but rather a realm or the reality of living under the rule and reign of Jesus as the King.

And so, to put that another way, entering into the kingdom of God is not about going somewhere, waiting on something or building something; it is about realizing something and reorganizing your entire life according to that something. It is about realizing that Jesus is the King over all of creation right now as we speak ruling on behalf of God and then reorganizing your entire life according to that reality. That is what it means to enter and belong to the kingdom of God.

This idea of reorganizing your entire life helps us to understand the other big word in Jesus’ main message which is repent.

What does it mean to repent?

To repent means to turn away from living life like you want to live it and to turn back to God asking for forgiveness and then focusing on living in a relationship of trusting obedience to him. It means to turn away from trying to define good and evil for yourself and to turn to Jesus and let him be the one who defines good and evil for you. It means to acknowledge and embrace Jesus as the King of the world.

Now, how do you know when you’ve truly repented?

Well, John the Baptist tells us in 3:8 when he tells the religious leaders to, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” You see, it’s NOT about praying a special prayer or going through a special class at church. You will know that you have truly repented because you will bear fruit in your life that lines up with true repentance. You will embrace a new way of life and a new way of seeing the world based on the life and teachings of Jesus. The evidence that you have truly repented and now belong to the kingdom of God is not a past prayer but rather present fruit. You will be transformed and experience a new life that is empowered by the Holy Spirit and that resembles the life of Jesus himself.

And this empowering that takes place in our lives is one of the most remarkable aspects of submitting and serving Jesus as the King. He declares that we must repent and reorganize our entire lives under his authority, but he didn’t make this demand from a distant throne in heaven. Jesus made this demand while dwelling among us and serving us through the most selfless life of love ever lived. A selfless life that endured the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be forgiven of our sin and restored back into a right relationship with our Creator. Jesus is the good King like no other king in history who is worthy of your total allegiance. This is a King who will transform your life if you would simply turn to him and live for him.

“Repent for the kingdom of God has arrived.”

We need to rediscover this one sentence so that we can respond to Jesus and what he taught appropriately and also share the message of Jesus and who he really is accurately.

Being a good person, belonging to a church, believing the Bible or simply praying a prayer is not sufficient to save us from the eternal consequences of our sin. We must truly repent. We must turn away from living life like we want to live it and turn back to God asking for forgiveness and now focusing on living in a relationship of trusting obedience towards him. We must realize that Jesus is King over all of creation right now as we speak ruling on behalf of God and then reorganize our entire life according to that reality.

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