Sunday, July 20, 2014

Kingdom of heaven is like...

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Matthew 13:24-43


TO CHEW ON: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field... The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.... The kingdom of heaven is like leaven..." Matthew 13:24, 31, 33

Jesus' stories were both fascinating and puzzling for His followers over 2000 years ago and to a large degree they are still that way. Many of his parables concern the kingdom of heaven (also called the kingdom of God). This subject for the Jews in Jesus' time would have been especially captivating, considering their domination by the Romans and hope that Messiah would set up an earthly kingdom to throw off that domination.

Jesus never intended to do that. That much is abundantly clear from the many times He stated that His kingdom was not of this world. And so for us these many years later, the kingdom of heaven is still something we look forward to.

These three parables are each a little puzzle piece in the picture of what that kingdom will look like.

1. Pure, though now mixed (Matthew 13:24-30; 37-43):
In the story the wheat and tares (non-wheat) exist together. Jesus explains that the wheat are the sons of the kingdom, the tares are the sons of the wicked one. The parable implies that it's not our job as individuals or as the church to determine who is wheat (who is saved — a son of the kingdom) and who is not. That's the job for the angels (Matthew 13:39,41). "Premature separation in the present age is out of the question and becomes more destructive than purifying," says J. Lyle Story in my Bible''s study notes (New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1315).

2. Starting tiny but destined to be big (Matthew 13:31-32):
The mustard-seed-start of the Kingdom looks insignificant in this earth age. But it is growing and someday we will be impressed by its greatness, just as the mature mustard plant much exceeds the seed in size.

3. Permeating everywhere (Matthew 13:33):
Like yeast grows silently yet surely, eventually permeating a whole lump of dough, so the kingdom of heaven does its work of penetrating evil and transforming lives wherever we find it.

These three little pictures of the kingdom of heaven serve to heighten our expectation. They also help us live realistically on earth as we:
  • Refrain from making pronouncements and judgments on who is saved and who isn't.
  • Refuse to get discouraged at the apparent insignificance of the kingdom and how it seems not to be flourishing in many places.
  • Understand the kingdom of heaven's penetrating and permeating power wherever it is, growing silently and secretly.

PRAYER: Dear God help me to get the big picture of kingdom of heaven realities. May I not grow discouraged but live like a kingdom daughter as long as I am on earth, doing my bit to help it spread and grow. Amen

MORE: "Hear the Call of the Kingdom" - Keith and Kristyn Getty





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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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