Jesus’ Faithfulness: Matthew 4:17
As we did with justice and mercy, we’ll consider Jesus’ promotion of faithfulness in two parts, beginning with the international arena. The most direct way Jesus promoted heartfelt worship and obedience to God was by preaching the kingdom of God to the Gentile nations. We see this in Matthew 4:13-25, 24:14, Luke 24:47, and especially in Jesus’ commissions to his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8. In both of these commissions, Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples of all nations, and to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth.
And of course, Jesus also promoted faithfulness on a national level. As with his international work among the Gentiles, Jesus promoted faithfulness within the nation of Israel especially through his preaching of the gospel. As he went from town to town, he commanded the people to repent, to turn away from their sin and become loyal to God, because God’s kingdom was at hand. Consider the way Matthew summarized Jesus’ preaching in Matthew 4:17:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).
We see similar summaries in Mark 1:15, and Luke 5:32 and 10:13. And we find examples of this kind of preaching in many places throughout the Gospels.
Jesus placed such a strong emphasis on faithfulness to God. He did this because faithfulness is an expression of trust. It’s an expression of realizing God really does deserve our faithfulness, our trust, our obedience, our devotion, above all else. When you disobey doctor’s orders, you’re not just saying something about the orders; you’re saying something about the doctor. And when you disobey God, you’re not just saying something about his commands that you’re disregarding, you’re saying something about the God who gave those commands. And so faithfulness is an expression of trust. It’s an expression of seeing God for who he is, and then of course, doing what he says. So, faithfulness to God is an expression of obedience. It’s an expression of daily devotion and trust in who he is. Paul in Romans talks about the Christian life in his apostolic ministry as one that should lead to the obedience of faith. It’s a beautiful expression which in some ways summarizes the Christian life. We see God for who he is, we put our faith in him, and that naturally leads to obedience. We obey the God that we trust. – Dr. K. Erik Thoennes