Summary: The kingdom of God is here, and also in heaven.

MATTHEW 3:1-12

“The Now And The Not Yet”

By: Kenneth Sauer

Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church

As most of you know,

I was raised in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse is the snowiest city in the country, and winter

takes up about 7 months out of the year.

So, if one is going to live in a winter wonderland, they might as well take advantage of

some of the fun which a cold and snowy climate provides.

There is a pond near my parent’s house which freezes over every winter, and is used for


There are also alot of hills and mountains nearby, and most people enjoy downhill skiing.

Snowmobiling is also a popluar past time and mode of transportation, but what I loved

the most was something called cross-country skiing.

There are lots of state parks which provide cross country skiing trails. It doesn’t cost any

money, it’s great exercise, and one can go anytime they want.

One place in particular that I enjoyed cross country skiing was a place called Green

Lakes State Park.

There are lots of woods, and you can choose from several different trails--depending on

how long you want to ski.

Now when one is cross-country skiing, It is much easier to follow the trail if someone has

already set down some tracks.

And since it snows nearly every day and night up in Syracuse, those tracks get covered

quite often.

But the park rangers get up early each morning and take the first trips down the trails in

order to make fresh tracks for others to follow.

They are the trail blazers, and I can remember many mornings where it had snowed

maybe 6 inches to a foot the night before, but when I showed up to ski, the tracks had already

been laid.

Well, we see in our gospel lesson for this morning that Jesus had a trail blazer, and his

name was John the Baptist.

We see in verse 2 that John was preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

John preached this message to all--to the general public and to the religionists alike.

No one was excluded.

Repentance means to change; to turn; to change one’s mind; to turn one’s life.

Something exciting was about to happen, and John was preparing the way. He was

getting the people ready. He was blazing the trail.

Christ’s ministry here on earth was about to begin, and John was making the paths


If the park rangers had not made the paths straight on those cross-country ski trails in

Syracuse New York, it would have been too dangerous for me to ski, I could have gotten lost,

because I wouldn’t have known which way to turn.

Well, John the Baptist came and told the people which way to turn. He told them to turn

away from their sins, and turn toward God for the kingdom of heaven was near.

Now what exactly did John mean by saying that the “Kindom of heaven is near”?

Often we think of the kingdom of heaven as being some place which is intangible to

those of us here on earth.

It’s somewhere way up in the sky. It’s where God lives.

But John was saying that it is near.

And when people heard about this, they began confessing their sins, and were baptizeed

in the Jordan River.

Obviously, John was talking about something that is tangible to those of us living here

on earth. Obviously he was not just talking about some far away place that we go after we die.

And this is because the kingdom of heaven is both the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’.

Now what in the world does that mean?

It means that the use of the word ‘kingdom’ can be misleading.

Often when we think of a kingdom, we think of an actual place where some King sits on

a throne in a palace in some actual geographical location. And we would have to go there in

order to get near it.

But this is not so with the kingdom of heaven.

The Greek term from which we get the English word ‘kingdom’ would be better

translated as ‘kingship’.

And if we look at it this way, John the Baptist was preaching that the kingship of God is


John was talking about the act of ruling itself, not just some geographical region.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul writes that “if anyone is in Christ,” he or she is “a new

creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Now isn’t this what happens when we repent and allow God to take control of our


When we allow the kingly rule of God to rule our lives we are living as part of the

kingdom of God right here and right now!

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