"In today’s reading in Matthew chapter 13 verses 1 to 58, Jesus tells several parables that reveal the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is of priceless value, has a small beginning but becomes a place of rest and shelter to all who are open to receiving it." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables ... (Matthew 13:1)Jesus quoting Isaiah:
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" (Matthew 13:10)
"You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving." (Matthew 13:14)Then one parable after another:
Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like... (Matthew 13:24)What is the Kingdom of Heaven? I would note that in other places in Matthew's written account of Jesus on earth he refers to the Kingdom of God rather than the Kingdom of Heaven. In both Mark and Luke's accounts we see it called the Kingdom of God. It is my understanding that these mean the same thing.
I have to admit I have always been a little bothered by the fact that Jesus never specifically defined the Kingdom of God. He never said the Kingdom of God is... He said it is "like" something else. He used parables to define the Kingdom of God.
From the things Jesus says about the Kingdom we know that it is not a political entity. It is not an empire here on earth established in one location. It is not a country with a strong leader or a king. It is not a government established by people and for the people and it is not a political party. The Kingdom of God transcends time and countries. It operates and governs during all times and among all empires, nations, and races. It is the rule of God in his people in this world. We also learn from Jesus that entering and living in the Kingdom has nothing to do with material wealth.
Reading these parables and other descriptions of it I get the sense that the Kingdom of God is here now, today, but also to come in an incredible way in the future. The parables here tell us that it started very small, barely noticed by anyone, but it is growing and will grow to something very large and permeate every part of the world. In his parables Jesus also describes the Kingdom as priceless and is worth more than anything in this world.
Perhaps it is also undefinable. Maybe the finite language we humans have devised can't describe in precise words a complete and true picture of the Kingdom of God. For me it is a little bit like standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and trying to describe it over a cell phone to someone who has never seen it. Someone may say "a picture is worth a thousand words." True, but still.. Even a thousand great pictures, taken by great photographers, can't replace seeing it in person.
The infinite Creator came down from heaven, became human, and in doing so also accepted the limitation of human language. So rather than completely and finitely defining the Kingdom Jesus uses parables to describe it, painting a complex and living picture in our minds. Jesus ultimately lived it. Using his own life here on earth he gave us the perfect picture of God's Kingdom.
Perhaps it takes millions of lives looking to Christ, spanning thousands of years, and living his message to even come close to truly defining the Kingdom of God.
I am working through the E100 Bible Reading Challenge again. You can learn more about my journey and read the other posts completed so far at this link. I encourage you to stop back soon to read another passage.
Please share your own thoughts on this passage in the comment section below or on the Facebook page.