Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.” Matt.4:17
“What does Jesus mean when he refers to the Kingdom?
Tradition tells us at the heart of Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom is God’s sovereignty over the chosen people and through them over creation. This is a theological and faith filled understanding. It raises questions for me, not doubts but just a need to understand. I need to see what Jesus taught about the Kingdom.
Can we in today’s world relate to “The Kingdom” as his followers did. Yet even in the beginning, they had the wrong idea. They expected that the ancient and historic kingdom of Israel would be restored, their enemies driven out from their midst. He was clear about what this Kingdom is. Most did not want to hear that his arrest and death would impact on their expectations. What can we know today about the implications of this idea of God’s Kingdom?
The word “kingdom” in Aramaic and Hebrew combines several ideas about God’s rule: a centralized and determined extension of power; the creative word; the empowering vision.
Jesus instructs his disciples about the mystery of the Kingdom of God. He tells them it begins not by violence and retribution but by signs of love, compassion and forgiveness. Jesus teaches about the Kingdom in parables.
God’s Kingdom is like the mustard seed; like yeast hidden in flour; like the found treasure; like the pearl of great value. A seed must be watered and nurtured to grow just as we must be to begin and grow in faith. Water, the flour and yeast must be worked and kneaded to become food. So, our life must be shaped into signs of spiritual nourishment. What God sends us out to do every day. On our journey of faith, we must always be seeking to find God’s kingdom. And guess what! We find it all around us and abiding within us.
The parables speak to God’s vision for us and the power of the creative word in our lives. Contrary to small and obscure beginnings, faith, hope and love grow within and become outward signs of God’s kingdom to our world.
I believe God rules by instilling in our very being the grace to figure out each next step in our faith journey. That journey will ultimately lead to abundant life as Jesus promised.
*I substitute “God” in identifying the Kingdom. Matthew’s Gospel was written primarily for Jewish Christians. Matthew like most Jews out of respect never spoke or wrote the word God.