Jesus walks out of the Wilderness proclaiming the Good News.
Thesis: Jesus invites us to walk into the Kingdom of Heaven through repentance.
Mark 1:14-15 (NLT)
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Matthew 4:12-17 (NLT)
12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.”
17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Isaiah 9:1-7 (NLT) Hope in the Messiah
9 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. 3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. 4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. 5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.
6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Opening Activity: Telephone.
Players must sit in a circle or stand in a straight line. They need to be close enough that whispering is possible, but not so close that players can hear each other whisper. The first person in the line or circle whispers a word or phrase into the ear of the person sitting or standing to their right. Players whisper the phrase to their neighbors until it reaches the last player in line. The last player says the word or phrase out loud so everyone can hear how much it has changed from the first whisper at the beginning of the circle or line.
For the last round use, “The Kingdom of God is near!”
Game Variation: Rumors
Rumors is a version of the telephone game where players deliberately change one or two words of the phrase. Rumors is also known as Gossip.
Share an announcement with the group as if it were the most important information in the world.
For example: Stand up in your chair and say, “I had mac and cheese for dinner!”
Video: Tommy get’s some great new! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fIs-f-jaZY
(FYI: He says “Oh my God”, you may want to prepare your audience)
- What is the great piece of news you have ever received (You passed a class. You were pregnant. You passed your drivers’ test. You got the job you wanted. The person you like, likes you back. Your favorite candidate won their election, etc) and how did you let people know (Facebook post, skywriting, shouted out in a crowd)
- How did people respond to that announcement?
Say: Today we are going to look at the greatest announcement ever made. When Jesus came on the scene, he made a huge announcement.
Ask: What do you think was Jesus’ announcement? Why do you think that was the most important message.
Read: Mark 1:14-15 & Matthew 4:17
Just for fun: Have members of your group say “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” or “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” In their best Jesus voice.
- What do you think was so special about Jesus announcement?
- Why is this the Jesus greatest announcement?
- What are the things that Jesus calls out?
- Mark: 1: Kingdom of Heaven is near, 2: Repent of your sins, 3: Believe the Good News
- Matthew: 1: Repent of your sins, 2; turn to God, 3: Kingdom of Heaven is near.
- How are these similar, how are they different? Why do you think that is?
In this section you will break down the three things that Jesus announces by looking at The Kingdom, Repentance, and the Good News (Gospel). (You can also add a discussion in the Isaiah 9 prophecy.
1: The Kingdom
See NT Wrights note on Kingdom of God vs Kingdom of Heaven
Read Wierbe’s thoughts on the Kingdom as well (end of Matthew section)
- Why is it important to understand that Jesus is not talking about a place to go when you die, but God’s rule on earth?
- How does Jesus spiritual kingdom clash with the desires that the Jewish people had (they wanted a political ruler)?
- How might it clash with people’s kingdom perception today.
- What does repentance (to repent) mean? (have group brainstorm before supplying these answers)
- From NT Wright (Mark) 1: Turn away from social & political agendas, 2: Turn back to a true loyalty in God
- From NT Wright (Matthew) 1: Change direction, 2: Turn around and go another direction
- Wiersbe: Change your mind
- How are these definitions different that yours? How is repentance different than apologizing?
- Jesus preached that people should repent and believe. What does repentance without faith become? (Remorse… according to Wiersbe)
3: The Good News:
Say: Jesus brings Good News (also known as the Gospel).
- What is the Gospel?
- How should we respond to this good news?
Read: Roman 10:9-11
- What does this passage say about how we should respond to the Gospel? (openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead)
- What happens when we believe in our heart and openly declare? (saved, made right with God)
- How might this good news be different than what the people believed they needed to do? (People thought they needed to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices to become right with God)
Watch Video: Kingdom of God https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmFPS0f-kzs
- What is the Good News that Jesus brings?
- How does this video add a fresh perspective to Jesus announcement?
Matthew Prophecy Reference: Matthew 4:12-17, Isaiah 9:1-7
- What Prophecy did Jesus living in Capernaum fulfill? (See Isaiah 9:1-2)
- What is he saying about Israel’s need to repent and chance direction (See NT Wright)
- How might changing direction and receiving God’s direction of hand in hand for us.
- How is Jesus fulfilling these prophecies help prove that Jesus was the Messiah?
- You may recognize some of this prophecy from Christmas. What are some things that this prophecy says about Jesus?
- How does Jesus fulfilment of this prophecy add validity to this announcement to “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Say: Jesus walked through Israel making his announcement. He makes that same announcement to us today. We are asked to walk with Jesus, to help “they kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Lord’s prayer). We are also called to share Jesus announcements to others. “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” This week, look for areas in your life where you need to repent and turn to God. Also look for ways where you can share the Good News of Jesus to others.