John the Baptist had been preaching in the wilderness the message of the Kingdom of God prior to the advent of Jesus’ ministry. Then Jesus came along apparently preaching that same message. How was Jesus’ proclamation any different from that which John had been preaching; and what import did this message of the Kingdom have for the people who heard it then, and those who hear it now?
Personally, I have a penchant to think of John the Baptist as the last of the Old Testament prophets. And as such, he was a type of bridge between the two covenants. Continuing, as it were, the ritual exhortation to turn from unrighteousness, and accept the temporal covering of sin and evil, with an eye toward receiving the message of the kingdom, or rule of God, for the governance of human life.
This is to say, John, as he was commissioned to do, was preparing the way of the Lord; his message of the Kingdom could only extend as far as the cleansing preparation. Jesus, on the other hand, is the object and the end of the Kingdom Of God; he completes the message of the Kingdom. His words in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand”, establishes that he himself is the embodiment of the message of the Kingdom.
While John’s message centered on repentance and preparation, Jesus brought forth the unmerited offer of complete redemption and salvation. In the God man Jesus, the Kingdom is now. And it’s import is that it is present, near, and dwelling among all who will receive it. As Paul indicates in Romans 10:8, the message, or word of the Kingdom “…is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart”. Receive it by faith today, and let its import make a significant difference for good in your life.
L. Jerome Jones