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            Seven hundred years after Isaiah wrote about the coming kingdom of God, John the Baptizer came preaching in the desert of Judea. He told people to be baptized (immersed in water) to show that they wanted to change their lives. John said, “Change your hearts and lives because the kingdom of God is coming soon.”

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             At that time, Jesus came from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the place where John was preaching. Jesus asked John to baptize him (immerse him in water), so John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.

            Later, Jesus went to Capernaum, a town near Lake Galilee, and started preaching the Good News from God. Jesus said, “The right time is now here. The kingdom of God is near. Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News!”

            This message stirred up great excitement. For hundreds of years, the Jewish people had been waiting, hoping, and longing for the coming of God’s kingdom. Now, their hopes and dreams were about to come true. 

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             Jesus was walking by Lake Galilee when he saw a man named Simon, and Simon’s brother Andrew. These two men were fishermen, and they were throwing a net into the lake to catch fish.

            Jesus said to them, “Come and follow me. I will make you a different kind of fishermen. You will work to gather people, not fish.” So Simon and Andrew left their nets and followed Jesus.

            Jesus continued walking by Lake Galilee. He saw two more brothers, James and John, the sons of a man named Zebedee. They were in their boat preparing their nets to catch fish. When Jesus saw these brothers, he told them to come. They left their father and followed Jesus.

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            As Jesus was walking along the road at Capernaum, he saw a tax collector named Matthew Levi. Matthew was sitting in the tax office. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” Matthew stood up, left everything, and followed Jesus.

            At that time, Jesus went out to a mountain to pray. He stayed all night praying to God. The next morning, Jesus chose twelve men and called them apostles, meaning “those sent forth.” These twelve men were: Simon (whom Jesus named Peter) and Andrew, Peter’s brother; James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.

            Jesus gave instructions to these twelve apostles and sent them out to tell people about the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “Go to the people of Israel. They are like sheep that are lost. When you go, preach this: ‘The kingdom of God is coming soon.’” 

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             Later, Jesus went out and sat by the lake. Many, many people gathered around him. So Jesus got into a boat and sat down. All the people stayed on the shore. Then Jesus told them stories about the kingdom of God, using everyday things to show them what the kingdom would be like.

            Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a farmer planting seed. Some seed fell by the road, and the birds came and ate the seed. Some seed fell on rocky ground that did not have enough dirt. When the sun rose, it burned the plants and they died. Some seed fell among thorny weeds, and the weeds stopped the good plants from growing. But some seed fell on good ground, and the seed grew and made grain. 

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            Jesus explained that the seed is the Word of God. The different kinds of soil are like people. Some people hear the Word of God but don’t understand it. They are like hard ground beside the road. Satan comes and takes away the truths that were planted in their hearts. Other people are like rocky ground that does not have enough dirt for deep roots. They quickly accept the teachings of God. But when trouble and persecution come, they quickly quit. Other people are like ground covered by thorny weeds. They let worries about this life and the love of money stop the teaching of God from growing. But, other people are like the good ground. They hear the teaching and understand it. These people grow and make fruit.

            Some people will accept God’s rule, and some will not. Yet, the kingdom of God will grow as the Word is planted in the hearts of good and honest people. 

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             Jesus told the people another story. He said, “The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. (The mustard plant is a large shrub that grows in Israel.) A person plants that seed in his field. That seed is one of the smallest of all seeds. But when the seed grows, it becomes one of the largest garden plants. It becomes a tree, big enough for the birds to come and make nests in its branches.”

            The kingdom of God would start small and become very large. It would continue to grow until it filled the earth. 

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             Then Jesus told the people another story. He said, “The kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field. One day a man found the treasure. The man was very happy to find the treasure. He hid the treasure in the field again. Then he went and sold everything that he owned in order to buy that field.”

            In this story, Jesus describes the kingdom of God as very precious. People will become very happy when they find it. The kingdom is worth more than any earthly possession. It is worth more than all of our earthly possessions put together. 

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             Still sitting in a boat, Jesus said to the people who were standing on the shore, “The kingdom of God is like a net that was put into the lake. The net caught many different kinds of fish. The net became full, so the fishermen pulled the net to the shore. The fishermen sat down and put all the good fish into baskets. Then they threw away the bad fish. It will be the same at the end of this world. The angels will come and separate the evil people from the good people.”

            In this story, Jesus says that the kingdom of God will include all kinds of people from all nations.    

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             At Capernaum, Jesus forced an evil spirit to leave a man who could not talk. When the demon came out, the man was able to speak. Jesus said, “I use the power of God to force out demons. This shows that the kingdom of God has come to you!”

            By forcing demons out of people, Jesus entered Satan’s house and defeated him. In the ministry of Jesus, people could see the beginnings of the kingly rule of God. 

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             Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi, an area about 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Jerusalem. Jesus said to his follows, “Who do you say that I am?”

            Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

            Jesus answered, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah. No human being taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am. So I tell you, you are Peter. And I will build my church on this rock. The power of death will not be able to defeat my church. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of God.”

            By this, Jesus pointed forward to the time when Peter would tell people how to enter the kingdom of God. 

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             Jesus said to his followers, “If any person wants to follow me, he must say ‘No’ to the things he wants. That person must accept the cross of suffering that is given to him, and he must follow me. The person who wants to save his life will lose it. And every person who gives his life for me will save his life forever. It is worth nothing for a person to have the whole world, if he loses his soul in hell.”

            Then Jesus said to his followers, “I tell you the truth. Some of you people standing here will see the kingdom of God come before you die. The kingdom of God will come with power.”

            In the near future, the kingdom of God would come with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

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1.                  The prophets wrote about the kingdom of God. Isaiah and other Old Testament prophets looked into the future and saw the coming kingdom of God. They saw the time when God would rule as King over heaven and earth. 

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2.         John prepared people for the kingdom of God. John the Baptizer said to the people, “Change your hearts and lives because the kingdom of God is coming soon.” John told people to be baptized (dipped or immersed in water) to show that they were going to live a new life.

Before we can enter the kingdom of God, we must accept the rule of God. We must change our minds about what is right and wrong. We must change our attitudes and actions. We must stop trying to please ourselves and start trying to please God.   

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3.         Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God was the central theme of Jesus’ preaching and teaching. His lessons helped people understand the nature of God’s kingdom and prepared them to accept God’s rule. His miracles proved that Satan’s power was broken, and that God’s rule was about to begin.  

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4.         Jesus showed people how to live under God’s rule. When Jesus’ apostles brought him something to eat, Jesus said, “My food is to do what God wants me to do. My food is to finish the work that he gave me to do.” Later, he said, “I don’t try to please myself. But I want to please the One who sent me.” Again he said, “I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do. I did not come to do what I want to do.”

            Jesus’ one aim in life was to do the will of God. Everything he did was an act of obedience. When we look at him, we see what it means to live under God’s rule.  

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             5. The church is a part of God’s kingdom. Jesus promised to build his church and to give Peter the keys of the kingdom of God. (The word “church” comes from a Greek word meaning “the called out.”) The church of Jesus Christ is made up of men and women who are called out of sin to be God’s people. They are men and women who have said “No!” to Satan and “Yes!” to God. They are people who try to do what God wants on earth, just as angels do what God wants in heaven.

            The rule of God will not be complete, however, until the end of time. On that last day, the world will be judged, and Satan and his followers will be totally defeated. On that day, God’s people will win a final victory over evil and will enjoy living under the perfect rule of God forever. 

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 Scripture References: Matthew 3:2-3, 13-15; 4:13-22; 9:9; 10:1-7; 12:22-29; 13:1-23, 31-32, 36-44, 47-50; 16: 13-19; Mark 1:1-11, 14-20; 2:13-14; 3:13-27; 4:1-20, 30-32; 8:2738; 9:1; Luke 6:12-16; 9:18-27; 11:14-22; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; Revelation 20-22.



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