Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
The Kingdom, Part 4
Thus far in our exploration of Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom we have determined that:
--the Kingdom of God/Heaven was Jesus' central teaching.
--the word “Kingdom” means the same in both the Hebrew and Greek languages ((i.e., the rule, authority, and dominion of a monarch).
--the Monarch of the Kingdom is concerned for the welfare of all His subjects.
--Jesus used parables, taking familiar images and using them to explain spiritual truths.
--many of us have assumed that the parables were used so that even the common people could understand. However, Christ stated that the people would not comprehend the spiritual meanings of the parables (Mt. 13:12-15).
-- we need to ask ourselves if our description of the Kingdom is consistent with Jesus' explanation of it.
--parables describe the Kingdom, the characteristics of its members, and explain how individuals may become part of the Kingdom
The parables are important, because they form the body of much of Jesus' preaching and teaching. However, at that time, the only Scriptures the people knew were those of the Old Testament. And during the Advent season we looked at the reason why most of the Jewish people didn't acknowledge or equate the birth of Jesus with the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah. His lowly beginnings were certainly not in line with royalty; the son of a King would surely be born in a palace and not in a stable! Furthermore, the Jews expected a political Messiah, to overthrow the Roman Government and restore Israel to her glory. Additionally, it's likely that when John the Baptist challenged people to, “Change your life. God's kingdom is here, “ (Mt. 3: 2, MSG), their anticipation was stirred up and intensified. A spiritual Saviour wasn't even given consideration. And even as Jesus was in His final days on earth, the disciples had the same expectations. In fact they asked the question that was on the minds of many, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel? Is this the time?” (Acts 1:6, MSG). It's hard not to imagine that Jesus would have been disappointed in hearing those questions. He had poured three years of His life into discipling this hand-picked group of men. Yet they seemed to have missed the significance of Jesus' teachings, they still did not understand that Jesus' Kingdom was “not of this world,” (Jn. 18:36).
The parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast, (Matt 13: 31-33, 44-52), have similar meanings. The mustard seed is extremely tiny—about 1/10th of an inch in diameter—yet, when it's planted in the ground, it grows and produces rapidly. Yeast has a similar property, in that when a small amount is mixed into dough, it causes it to rise and spread. For those who think that the Kingdom is the Church, they view these parables as an explanation of the growth of the Church, from small beginnings to it's expansion since Pentecost. Others have deduced that the mustard seed and the yeast demonstrate that though both are small, they are working to accomplish their tasks even when we can't see it. They equate this to the fact that God is at work, even when we can't perceive what He is doing. I think that both perspectives are valid; and as we continue our study, we may find some additional viewpoints.
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)