This week we will look at 5 different ways that Jesus described the Kingdom of God - His Kingdom. He also referred to it as the Kingdom of Heaven.
Why is it important? Well, the way that Jesus describes the Kingdom will explain that pretty well…but for now, we need to understand that to follow Jesus is to be ‘in His Kingdom’ and to follow Jesus is to have ‘His Kingdom in you’. The Kingdom of God is the Christian life, both here and now (our human lives) and there and then (our eternal lives). To study His Kingdom is to get a better picture of what it means to follow Him and to understand better what He is doing and will do in this world. Keep in mind that although Jesus said that His Kingdom was ‘not of this world’ (John 18:36) he also clearly taught us that we would have His Kingdom in the midst of us (Luke 17:20-21) and that we would need to live ‘in the world but not of the world’ (John 17:14-19). This means that what we do today matters because what we do is a part of His Kingdom in (but not of) this world. Here is Jesus’ teaching us about His Kingdom:
Matthew 13: 24 Here is another story Jesus told: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. 27 "The farmer's workers went to him and said, 'Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ 28 "'An enemy has done this!' the farmer exclaimed. "'Should we pull out the weeds?' they asked. 29 "'No,' he replied, 'you'll uproot the wheat if you do.30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’"
Now, here is Jesus’ explanation of this parable to His followers:
36 Then, leaving the crowds outside, Jesus went into the house. His disciples said, "Please explain to us the story of the weeds in the field.” 37 Jesus replied, "The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed.38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one.39 The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world,* and the harvesters are the angels. 40 "Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world.41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.42 And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father's Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!
So, let’s learn a few things from this teaching about the Kingdom of God/Heaven:
First, God is patient and we should be too. Notice that he doesn’t go ripping weeds out (destroying those who do not follow Him). He once did (see Noah and the flood in Genesis 6-8). Now, he patiently allows men and women to live on this earth and choose the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of God’s enemy. If that is God’s will then we should embrace that reality. That reality also shows how God allows bad things to happen…think about it.
Second, God’s enemy is at work and we should be too. God empowers us to be sowers of His Word. That is our job and our joy. God’s enemy is busily replicating that effort with other words…bad seed that produces bad results. One of the best ways to counter a weed is to sow more good seed so it overpowers it. There is a practical application for us in this…the more we sow of God’s Word the more good growth we will see in our own life/heart and in the Kingdom of God here and now.
Third, a time will come that God will bring about finality and perfect justice. I need not judge because I am not fit for it…but I serve a King that is a perfect judge and His Word teaches me that a day will come when He will bring perfect justice. If I can place my faith in Him and in that truth then I can go about my daily life without the need to judge others and without the need to inspect the fruit/harvest of others lives. I can get busy tending my own garden.
Lastly, just because you are breathing air does not mean you are alive in Christ/His Kingdom. To believe that you are in good standing with God because He hasn’t yet ‘struck you down’ is a false hope. Your choice to follow Him and allow His Word to take root in your heart is a choice that you can make each day. It is a choice that you can deny each day. Do not get comfortable with the false hope that you must be ok because it doesn’t appear that God is judging you now. That is simply God’s patience at work in this world. Read 2 Peter Chapter 3 to get a vivid picture of this truth and then consider your own standing as wheat or weed.
God’s Kingdom has come. God’s Kingdom is coming. God’s Kingdom will come. It happened when Jesus came to earth to live perfectly, die sacrificially and rise again victoriously. It is a finished work. It is still happening every day in the life of His followers by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. It will one day come to full fruition when God will complete all things with a great harvest time. At that time, wheat/good seed (followers of Jesus) will have an eternity to enjoy the Kingdom and its King…weeds/bad seed (followers of their own way) will have an eternity to spend without God and in the fiery furnace.
Join the Kingdom of God by following Jesus. Today, tomorrow and forever!