Yesterday my children and I were reading the Bible while they played in the bathtub. We came to the verse in Matthew 4:17, where it says, “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.'”
So, I asked my children, “What does it mean if something is ‘at hand’?”
“You can reach out and touch it,” my 5 year old said.
“Yes,” I replied, “and it can reach out and touch you too. I’m near at hand right now. I can put out my hand and reach you. What would happen right now if one of you slipped in the bathtub and started to choke on the water?”
“You would grab me,” said my 4 year old.
“Yes, I’d grab you and save you,” I said. “So what do you think would happen if one of God’s children slipped into fear and doubt, or started to drown in sin?”
“God would catch them,” answered my 5 year old.
“Absolutely,” I said. “Jesus tells us, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ So, what if there was a little girl who was having trouble obeying her mommy, and she didn’t want to do her chores, or her school, or clean up her messes. What should she do?”
“Pray,” my 5 year old said. “Pray that God would help her obey.”
“Yes. And mommies and daddies have to pray this too. Sometimes we do bad things, or get in the habit of doing things that aren’t a good idea. But we can pray to God, say we’re sorry for our sin, and he will reach out and help us, because he is near at hand.
“Now,” I continued, “what if something very bad happened. What if someone got deathly sick, or was seriously hurt in a car accident, and they were dying. What do you think God would do?”
“Help them,” said my 4 year old.
“Yes,” I said. “He might make them all better here in this life, or he might catch them up – just like how I would catch you up out of the water in the bathtub if you started to choke – God would catch them up into his arms in Heaven.”
Not only had God become man in Jesus Christ, making himself physically near us; not only was the Covenant of Grace about to be written and sealed in Christ’s own blood, righteousness, and resurrection; but also, our union with our Father is not far away. Whether Christ returns and takes us all Home, or we live out our natural years and get there the old fashioned way, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand;” so close you can touch it, and it can reach out and touch you too.