For the last three Sundays, the Gospel reading has Jesus, through parables, explaining what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
On Sunday, I tried to put all of this together to help us understand and see what Jesus has been talking about. Through the different parables, Jesus tells us a little about the Kingdom of Heaven.
Note, Jesus was not intending to be exhaustive in his description of the Kingdom of Heaven, just to speak about some of the important pieces. Also, these parables can be found in Matthew 13 for you to reference and read.
Parable of the Sower
A Place for Planting
As Summer shared with us a few weeks back, this parable shows us the importance of our heart health. God is about planting life within us, but are we ready to receive it? Are we open to God seeking our growth and continued health?
Parable of the Weeds
A Place for Hope
This parable shares with us the reality of evil being present with the good things in this life. Specifically, Jesus talks about the children of the kingdom and the children of the evil one.
There will be bad things that we will have to face in this world; bad people we will have to deal with, but there is always hope.
God is in our midst and has plans to reconcile all things.
Parable of the Mustard Seed
A Place for God’s Dominion.
God has always asserted the right to be present in creation. The parable of the mustard seed harkens back to the prophets of the Old Testament in speaking about authority and dominion. The word for kingdom in the Greek is the same word that we get the word for Basilica. It is a seat of authority. In the case of this parable, it is God’s authority. Part of our humanity always struggles with authority, specifically, someone else’s authority over us. Many would simply choose to be part of a reign of the self. We get no such choice. In this life we can choose who/what we serve, but we don’t get to choose if we serve. The God of creation invites us to sit under His dominion.
Parable of the Yeast
A Place for Transformation.
God is the God of transformation. In the parable of the yeast, we are shown that the Kingdom of Heaven is about transformation; our transformation. Will we allow ourselves to be changed from the inside out by the One who has created us?
Authorized Personnel Only
When we are somewhere and we see the above words on a sign, we know that it is an area that is restricted. It is for those who hold more significance and have more responsibility in the functioning of whatever organization displays this sign.
The last three parables that Jesus speaks in this sequence were spoken away from the crowds and to the disciples in the privacy of a home.
These things that Jesus is about to speak are for their ears only.
Is it a secret?
Is it forbidden knowledge to the commoner?
The things Jesus will share are things that His disciples will need to hear and understand.
Those present find themselves with a deeper connection to this journey with Jesus.
They have been called by Him to follow.
They will be the ones who will lead the Church after His departure.
Does that mean that these next things don’t apply to us?
It is for all of those who say yes to the journey and are willing to submit themselves to it.
It is a deeper commitment.
Parable of the Hidden Treasure
A Place to Take Possession of Abundant Living
What would you do if you found the key to the “good life?” Would you sell all you had to get a life of abundance. Kingdom living offers this very thing. The abundance is life lived as were created to live. It will mean giving up other things that have usurped God’s offer for our lives.
Parable of the Pearl
A Place to Give Up the Old Life
What would you do if you had a chance to swap the life you have for the one God has created you for? This parable reminds us that Kingdom of Heaven calls us to leave the old life behind and give everything for that which God offers us.
Parable of the Net
A Place for the Harvest
In a parable similar to the Parable of the Weeds, this parable has a harvest of fish and a separation of the good fish from the bad fish. Jesus’ language is clear, that God will judge all things and there will be a reckoning at the end of this age.
We might be tempted to look at this as an unnecessarily harsh action by God because it involves a place of horror.
Jesus speaks of it at the end of the parable when He says,
“The angels will come out and separate the evil
from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire,
where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This symbolic language speaks of Gehenna
or maybe just a hell.
It is a place where sacrifices of children took place.
It was a doomed place.
A place void of hope.
This language is meant to give perspective to the disciples of Jesus and remind them that this thing they are being called to is serious business. When Jesus calls most of the disciples (who were fishermen), he says that, instead of fishers of fish, He will make them fishers of men. This, I believe, links with the net parable.
It’s as if He is saying, “This life before you is life giving to you and to others. It is a call to be a part of Kingdom living and God’s redemptive purposes. I need you to be all in.”
What do we do with this information about the Kingdom of Heaven?
If we now know what the Kingdom of Heaven, at its most basic level, is:
· A place for planting.
· A place for hope.
· A place for transformation.
· A place for God’s dominion.
· A place to take possession of abundant living.
· A place to give up the old life.
· A place of harvest.
Then what next?
I’m glad you asked.
If the Kingdom of Heaven is the place of God’s dominion,
And we are the children of said kingdom,
Then we should reflect Kingdom values.
This is, at least, the call to us.
This is our invitation.
To participate in the purposes of God in the redemption of the world through the free gift God offers to all: the salvation of our souls and the invitation to the abundant life.
Our understanding of the human condition and God’s desire to plant within us His gifts for our good and for the good of others is our joy.
Our understanding of the hope that God offers is a reality that we can share with others, especially those who are struggling with the difficult things of this life.
Our realization of our own transformation and God’s desire for the transformation of others gives us a vision for what can be.
Our knowledge of God’s dominion over this life and God’s call for all to live under this dominion is a relief when we see it as a break with the dominion the world calls us to.
Our seeing the gift of abundant living and a new life that God offers us allows us to throw off the old ties and allegiances that captivated us before in order to gain that which we could never achieve ourselves.
Our vision into the plans of God and the harvest that will come upon all motivates us to share these gifts of God and the promises that these gifts bring.
It is a call to a purposeful life.
It is an invitation to the good life.
It is the salvation of our souls.
The joy of our hearts.