A Moment with the Bible
The text before us is the second of the five major discourses of Jesus that Matthew records. In this discourse, Jesus gives instructions to His apostles as He sends them out on the Limited Commission. This commission has been called “limited” because He sent them only to Israel and forbid them to go to the Gentiles. Later, in 28:19, Jesus will give the Great Commission in which He will send His disciples into all the world. This pattern of spreading the gospel was followed later in the book of Acts. The first nine chapters of Acts records the spread of the gospel to the Jews only. When Paul (who was sent to the Gentiles) would enter a city, he would first go to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. The Jews had been prepared for the coming of the kingdom and thus it was only fitting that they be given the first opportunity.
The key to this first mission by the apostles was their message. Israel had been looking for the coming kingdom and therefore Jesus tells them to go and announce that the kingdom is at hand. We need to stop and ask ourselves a question: “Was Jesus right about that? Was the kingdom about to begin?” Surely, you would think, no one would suggest Jesus was in error. But you would be wrong. Most of the religious world believes that though the Lord intended to establish the kingdom, it did not work out because the Jews rejected Jesus and therefore the perfect earthly kingdom He would have started had to be postponed. Instead, as the theory goes, Jesus established the “church age.” This doctrine is utterly false. Jesus never intended to establish an earthly kingdom (John 18:36) and the church was not an afterthought. His kingdom is heavenly, as Matthew states 37 times in his book (“Kingdom of heaven”). Jesus’ kingdom did begin and Jesus is reigning on His throne (Acts 2:34-36), and will reign until death is destroyed (1 Cor. 15:24-26). As for the “church” (that is, the saved), they are the ones who are citizens of this great kingdom. Everything happened just as God planned. If the kingdom did not come (as those who follow Tim LaHaye and the “Left Behind” series believe), then Jesus lied, the prophets who foretold it were false prophets, and God who planned it to take place in the first century is not sovereign.