Discovering the Kingdom

Day 6

Jesus’ mind was filled with thoughts about the Kingdom of Heaven. This theme dominated Jesus’ preaching. Sermons and illustrations and parables on the Kingdom constantly flowed out of Him.

It’s helpful to remember that the term Jesus used is actually the Kingdom of the Heavens — plural. Jesus isn’t talking about heaven, but the kingdom of the heavenlies; that is the kingdom that is first established spiritually in the hearts of men and then has a gradual but eventually enormous influence on society.

One of the great mistakes of the church in the past one hundred years is that evangelical revivalism influenced a minimalist approach to the gospel and reduced it almost exclusively to an issue of personal salvation as it applies to an afterlife. During much of the 20th Century, fundamentalists, evangelicals, pentecostals and charismatics reduced the gospel to a heaven and hell minimalism. The gospel has been thought of almost exclusively in terms of getting people ready to die. But this is not how Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom.

Yes, salvation certainly includes an escape from hell and a home in heaven at death, but in the way Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom it is obvious He was emphasizing a kingdom that would transform lives now which would in turn ultimately lead to a transformation of society. The Gospel as Jesus preached it is not primarily about how to go to heaven when you die, but how to live the abundant life of the Kingdom now. The gospel of the Kingdom is not just a matter of personal salvation. The “leaven” of the Kingdom of Heaven should have a redemptive influence on government, education, economics, ethics, arts, etc. The gospel of Jesus Christ not only saves the soul of an individual, but it can also save a culture from the corrupt influences of the fallen world order. This is much of what Jesus had in mind when He preached the gospel of the Kingdom.

To understand the societal impact of the gospel upon Western Civilization I highly recommend Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization by Alvin J. Schmidt.

In Matthew 13 Jesus gives seven parables on the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Parable of the Sower
Deals with the various individual responses to the word of the Kingdom.

The Parable of the Tares
Reveals Satan’s strategy to dilute the influence of the Kingdom with nominal Christians. Jesus warns us not to try to separate real believers from nominal believers.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed
The Kingdom begins as a single seed, the solitary life of Jesus, but grows into a kingdom where multitudes can nest, rest and be blessed.

The Parable of the Leaven
Shows the quiet but thorough influence of the Kingdom. Instead of protesting the culture, it is better to be worked into the culture and transform it as leaven.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
A man stumbles upon a treasure so great he will give sell all he has to obtain it.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
A seeker finally finds what he has been looking for when he finds the Kingdom.

The Parable of the Dragnet
This parable should be compared with the parable of the tares. In the parable of the dragnet, it is not the devil that brings those who lack a real work of grace into the Kingdom, but the nature of preaching the gospel itself. Some people who have not experienced a genuine regeneration will inevitably be a part of the outward expressions of Kingdom life (the church). But as in the parable of the tares, the work separation must be left to God at the end of the age.


At the end of chapter 15 I was struck by these words:

Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them all.

-Matthew 15:29, 30

Most probably the mountain referred to is Mount Arbel, a prominent mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee. This is a favorite place of mine in the Galilee. Here is another view of the mountain showing the way people would have approached the mountain.

This world is filled with broken and hurting people. During these two months let’s make a special effort to bring people to feet of Jesus where they can find healing and wholeness.