V16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
V17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
John the Baptist a forerunner of Jesus Christ preached the same essential message as Jesus “Repentance”, for the kingdom of heaven is near (Matthew 3:1–2).
There is a difference between their callings, as John preached the message to Israel as the one who prepared the way for the coming of the Messiah. He called the people to get ready, before the Messiah arrived and established the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus preached the message as the Messiah Himself. He called people to repent, to submit to God and follow Him as the Son of God.
Both John and Jesus made it clear that people cannot participate in God’s kingdom without first repenting of their sins, i.e. changing the course of their lives to follow the way, which is Jesus Christ.
Jesus spoke often of “the Kingdom of Heaven” while on Earth, saying it was here, right now (Matthew 4:17). Jesus teachings about the Kingdom of God reveal that it is a mystery.
The kingdom would come in with Jesus coming to earth to deal with sin, and then with Jesus returning in the clouds with great glory and power.
We can enter into the Kingdom of God by being born of the spirit of God’s, surrendering our hearts to be changed (John 3:3). Jesus told His disciples to proclaim that:
The kingdom of heaven has come ‘near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give’”
In the same way, we must do the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21). Jesus explained the Kingdom of Heaven, saying it is like a tiny bit of yeast hidden in 3 cups of flour, making all the dough rise (Matthew 13:33). It is action oriented.
The Kingdom of Heaven being at hand means that followers of Jesus bring about the will of the Father through their lives on Earth.
Until the future Kingdom arrives, the present Kingdom living is one of action. Let’s go into all the world and make disciples, healing the sick, setting prisoners free, feeding the hungry, driving out every kind of demon and visiting the lonely.