March 4, 2013
READ: Matthew 13:34-35,53-58
Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, He never spoke to them without using such parables (v.34).
Parables. Jesus told lots of them: the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-23), the mustard seed (vv.31-32), the hidden treasure in the field (13:44-46), the vineyard workers (20:1-16), the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the lost sheep (15:4-7), the prodigal son (vv.11-32).
But why did Jesus tell so many parables? Matthew tells us that parables were Jesus’ primary method of explaining to the masses what His kingdom was all about (Matthew 13:34). In His kingdom, God’s generosity leads Him to treat everyone equally (20:1-16). Faithful stewardship is commended (25:14-30). People across the world have a place in His kingdom (Luke 13:29). The humble are exalted (18:14).
Jesus’ short stories were also packed full of clues as to how the kingdom of heaven can manifest itself here on earth. Jesus hinted that His kingdom can come to earth from even the smallest of things (the mustard seed). It’s displayed when compassion is shown to people far different from us (the good Samaritan). Heaven breaks through to earth when forgiveness and restoration is extended to any sinner who repents (the lost son).
Those who took the time to listen to and wrestle with what Jesus was saying were able to see ancient, kingdom secrets that had been “hidden since the creation of the world” (Matthew 13:35). They were able to understand that He was establishing a revolutionary way of life that they could join with as both beneficiaries and ambassadors.
Sadly not everyone who heard Jesus listened. The religious establishment dismissed the clues because they didn’t fit into their nationalistic agenda. Still, many did listen—Jews and Gentiles alike—and it transformed their lives.
As we read the story of Jesus today, let’s pick up His clues and be about building His kingdom. —Jeff Olson
› Joshua 10:1-15 1
Look up John 12:23-24 and note that the ultimate ‘twist’ to Jesus’ kingdom story was that heaven couldn’t come to earth without His death and resurrection.
Start reading through the Gospels to see just how often Jesus emphasised that His heavenly kingdom was coming to earth. What are you doing to build Jesus’ kingdom?