(read this morning)
“But the trouble was that many of his contemporaries were eager to get on with the fight. His message of repentance was not, therefore, that they should feel sorry for personal and private sins (though he would of course want that as well), but that as a nation they should stop rushing toward the cliff edge of violent revolution, and instead go the other way, towards God’s kingdom of light and peace and healing and forgiveness, for themselves and the world.
What would happen if they didn’t? Gradually, as Matthew’s story develops, we begin to realize. If the light-bearers insist on darkness, darkness they shall have. If the peace-people insist on war, war they shall have. If the people called to bring God’s love and forgiveness into the world insist on hating everyone else, hatred and all it brings will come crashing around their ears. This won’t be an arbitrary judgment or punishment; it will be what they themselves have been calling for. This is why they must repent while there’s still time. The kingdom is coming, and they are standing in the way.
The message is just as urgent today, if not more so for us who live on this side of Calvary and Easter. Matthew would want to say to us that the kingdom which Jesus established through his own work, and his death and resurrection, now faces us with the same challenge. Are we working to extend God’s kingdom to the world? Or are we standing in its way?”
Matthew for Everyone (Part 1), N.T. Wright (p. 30)