These past two weeks have been amazing. I always enjoy reading about the life of Jesus. Although I've studied the gospels more than any other part of the bible, I'm seeing new things that I've never noticed before. The message of "the kingdom" has hit me like a ton of bricks. And once again the message of the kingdom appears in today's passage.
Mt.9:35"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom..."
Mt.10:5"These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions:"Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near..."
I've never before noticed, how consumed Jesus was with the mission of spreading the message of the kingdom. All of the parables and teachings of Jesus are about the kingdom. The first thought that hit me was if Jesus spent so much time trying to get his followers to understand and to comprehend the kingdom, then why do we spend virtually no time in teaching on the kingdom today? If we are followers of Jesus and it was his primary message shouldn't it be our primary message also? I honestly can't remember the last time I've heard a message on the kingdom. Then it dawned on me, maybe we(the universal church)don't teach on the kingdom because we don't understand it.
My question today is, What is the kingdom? My second question is, Has the kingdom already come.. or are we still waiting for it? If it has not already come, when does it begin?
I would love to hear your response regarding these two questions. Please do share with me any insights you may have. And if you really don't know, I would love to hear from you also.
Let's look at a few things we've learned regarding the kingdom, in our readings these past two weeks.
We know that from the beginning of Jesus' ministry the message of the kingdom is what he taught and preached.
Mt.4:17"From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
When Jesus sends out his disciples he sends them with instructions to proclaim the message of the kingdom.(See Mt.10:5 above)
We know in Mt.6:33 Jesus tells us, we are to seek his kingdom above all other things, over food and clothing. When Jesus instructs his disciples on how they should pray, he teaches them to pray for the kingdom to come to the earth. And for the order and will of the father to be established in the earth as it is in heaven.(See Mt.6:9-10)
When Nicodemus, the Pharisee, meets Jesus in the night, Jesus tells him no one can "see" or "enter" the kingdom of God unless they are born again.(See Jn.3:1-3)
Many were unable to "see","comprehend" the teaching of the kingdom. Most had no clue as to what Jesus was talking about. With the arrival of Jesus' ministry and the teaching of the kingdom, a revelation of God's plan was being revealed to the earth. A revelation that had been hidden throughout time.
Mt.13:35b"I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world."
However this message of the kingdom would only be revealed in parables. The parable was a way of scrambling the message that Jesus spoke. For those who did not believe that Jesus was the son of God, the message of the kingdom was to remain hidden from them.
We also know that Jesus diligently taught his disciples year after year, attempting to get them to comprehend how the kingdom operated and functioned. Most of their teachings began with a certain phrase, "The kingdom of heaven in like..." This was something that Jesus wanted them to grasp and understand.
Although the disciples were exposed to the teachings of Jesus more than anyone, they still struggled with comprehending the message of the kingdom. It was evident that this was not a simple message to grasp. Many times after Jesus finished teaching, the disciples would privately inquire to Jesus for further explanation. Jesus continually worked with his disciples, trusting their understanding would come in time.
Mk.4:33"With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand."
It is evident that the message of the kingdom was of critical importance and that Jesus wanted his followers to fully grasp this message. It is also evident that even to this day, for many this message of the kingdom remains a mystery, an unsolved puzzle.
I'll pick up part 2 of "What is.. the Kingdom?" here in the next couple days. Please take a moment to send me your thoughts. Blessings,