Posts Tagged ‘Matthew’
The Kingdom of God is like…
- King James Bible
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
- New International Version (©1984)
nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
- New American Standard Bible (©1995)
nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”
- New Living Translation (©2007)
You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”
- English Standard Version (©2001)
nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches (Matt. 13:31-32).
The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough (Matt. 13:33).
Also in my consideration is The Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:1-23) with particular focus on this statement of Jesus; “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
The first thing that struck me when reading “the kingdom is like…” passages was the drastic and transformative imagery that Jesus presents. I don’t think exact comparisons of these illustrations are necessary and they are not the real point of Jesus’ examples. For instance, he could have said an acorn turns into a mighty oak or the seed from a pine cone turns into a cedar that reaches the heavens. Likewise, the point can be made for the yeast in the flour dough… something “small” had great influence and had amazing transformative power or was amazingly transformed.
As I was thinking about these passages, especially in context with the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1-23), I started considering how my previous thinking about these Kingdom of Heaven word pictures might not have been perceived correctly. I have, or had, generally considered these statements as something outside of me and not necessarily within me. I don’t know why that is, but it is. Suddenly, something clicked though, and I began to consider this from a different vantage point… and it seems to make much more sense to me now. Not that my previous thinking was inaccurate, but I was thinking in more of an ultimate and complete sense of understanding. Ultimately the Kingdom of God will be all encompassing and the ruling reign of Jesus will be over all things; the Bible speaks prophetically of this, so yes… those Kingdom of God is like metaphors make sense in those respects. Jesus, in his humble arrival, and with the help of his unassuming disciples ultimately reorder all things on the earth through his atoning sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. I get it; it makes sense… something small and it radically transforms into something much larger than itself. Or is there more?
I think there is more and maybe I’m just a little slow to arrive at this conclusion and everybody else has already seen this. If that is the case, welcome me to the party…sorry I have been late in arriving. So…considering the Kingdom of God, I remember on a couple of occasions in particular Jesus stating that the Kingdom of God is already among you (Matthew 12:28). Particularly in Luke 17:21 I was reminded of several translations (see above) that indicated the Kingdom is within you, among you, and in your midst. I’m very much an “if—then” thinker. I’m always postulating ideas into if/then statements and overlaying them on different scenarios. It was one of these moments that opened up some serious heart examination questions for me with this Kingdom of God is like… idea presented by Jesus in Matt. 13:31-33.
Ok… the Kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a mighty garden plant or tree, and the Kingdom of God is like a tiny measure of yeast put into three full measures of flour that doesn’t stop working (activating) until it has worked itself through the whole dough. What does that mean to me? If the Kingdom of God is within me or among me like the “seed” or the “yeast,” how has it impacted me? Is the Kingdom growing within me and working itself through every molecule of my being (much like the yeast in the flour)? Has the tiny seed of God’s Kingdom taken root within me and begun its mighty transformative work in me so I no longer appear the same as I used to? Do other creatures of God want to take up residence in the haven of God’s Kingdom which has become my life?
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches…
I’m brought back to the beginning of this chapter thirteen in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the Parable of the Sower and I wonder; which seed am I? Certainly I am not seed one (Matt. 13:18-19) and I don’t consider myself seed two (Matt. 13:20-21). If this Good News of Jesus Christ, the seed of God’s Kingdom has truly been planted within and among me, and Jesus’ words are true about what the Kingdom of God is like… then I will not fall victim of seed three (Matt. 13:22) either. However, I’m not fully convinced when I look honestly in the mirror of my life, that I am seed four (Matt. 13:23)… Radical transformation on the level of Jesus’ descriptions will indeed produce a harvest of 30, 60, 100 fold. I believe my tendency is to be satisfied and give myself applause if I am able to successfully replicate myself; what is that one-fold??? Two-fold??? In either event it doesn’t sound radically transformative as is depicted in Jesus’ illustration.
I suppose the bottom line question in my ongoing meditation is this; “Is the kingdom of God like Jeff?” The truth of the matter is if Jesus’ words are true and the Kingdom has been planted in me, I will be radically transformed into something that no longer resembles my old self. Sadly, we have a tendency to start out down the road of transformation (seed two or seed three) and then fail to allow the yeast of Christ any more leeway in our lives. I desire whole life transformation and I believe the key is whole death. I think I read this one time…
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:24
Transform me, O My God, through the yeast of your word. May it consume and devour all that am so I might be a deeply rooted tree in your kingdom, a safe haven for others to call home. Amen.
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Day 23-25]
O God, who has given us the great and saving truths of Your gospel: grant us, we ask You, to live amid these things, to meditate on them and seek them; for one who goes on seeking, finds. Help us, therefore, to learn those things on earth, the knowledge of which shall abide with us in heaven. Grant this for Jesus Christ’s sake. [Amen] Give us strength with changed heart, O Lord, to love You with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength…and help us, O Lord, for Your namesake to love our neighbor as ourselves. [Amen]
“Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace-in peace because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“Scriptural living comes from trust in the Lord. When our eyes are fixed on the Lord Jesus and we trust in His word, we will be steadfast and mature.” Deep-Rooted in Christ; Joshua Choonmin Kang
Sorting, Processing, and Continued Reflection… 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed (Day 14)
“The desperate need for today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but deep people…” [Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster]
Quotables from “Deep-Rooted in Christ” by Joshua Choonmin Kang:
- “The Word of God is the only tool that can bring about our spiritual formation.”
- “The Holy Spirit is what brings us to maturity and depth.”
- “The Holy Spirit offers us the utmost intimate knowledge of God and our inward thoughts.”
I’m still sorting through several things going on in my life; not the least of which are personal relationships. I continue to meditate and reflect on the precepts of God as I search His leading and guidance on how to live as a “reconciler” and peacemaker. Read the rest of this entry »
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Days 10-11]
“From the highest of highs to the depths of the sea…”
The last couple of days have been somewhat of a roller coaster for me; extreme highs and desperate lows have punctuated the last 48 hours of my life. I realize how dramatic that sounds, but it honestly sets the stage for where my heart has been and how God the Holy Spirit has been ministering to me…helping me to grow in His knowledge and mature in His image. Some of my experience is still very raw and has not been resolved-reconciled just yet. If you are reading this, I covet your prayers for the continuing illumination that comes only from God.
Briefly, some background story –
Two years ago I went from part-time volunteer ministry (associate pastor) to transitioning to full-time vocational ministry (which I am currently involved in). During this two year period, my family moved to a new state, new church, new friends…etc. We left our old life on faith that God would provide for our needs, and He has…in marvelous ways; however, our house had remained on the market for sale during this entire time. Month after month we saw our financial situation strain at its limits and month after month we saw the Hand of God meet our need, often in surprising and creative ways. While this had tendencies of bringing tension into the household, it also brought with it lessons of trust, favor, and reliance upon God. Yesterday, we sold our house. God provided in His timing. This was certainly a moment of celebration of the highest magnitude. JEHOVAH JIREH!!! There is more to this story and the amazing timing of God, but I’ll share more about that in future posts. Suffice it to say the “rest of the story” helps to shape why this event was such an emotional and spiritual high point…but we need to move on for now. Read the rest of this entry »