There is the same summary language for the initial preaching of Jesus (4:17) as John the Baptist's initial preaching in 3:2. Does that imply a connection between the content of their preaching: Of course it does! Both men characteristically preached "repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." In characteristic form, from conclusion to support for it, it is less understandable to our ears immediately. We prefer the premise stated first, then, the conclusion? OK. 1) The kingdom of heaven has come near. 2) So, repent!
So let's ask each other: Of all the things you've heard said about their sermons, have you heard that they preached that the kingdom of heaven has come near as much as you've heard that they preached repentance? Not nearly so much. We've often heard that John the Baptist preached repentance, and that Jesus did too, but very seldom heard their premise for it! This cannot be explained in an excusable way. Is the fact that the kingdom of heaven has come near of no consequence, either for anything else, or especially, for repentance? It is very much of consequence.
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