ODJ: A Present Preview

June 3, 2018 

READ: Matthew 13:31-35 

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field” (v.31).

I know of family members who open one small gift on the eve of their birthdays. This makes for a fun ‘preview’ of the excitement of opening the rest of the gifts the next day.

Unwrapping one of the many gifts to come parallels one of the great mysteries about God’s kingdom. Even as Jesus announced the “Good News”—the arrival of God’s kingdom on earth (Mark 1:15)—He explained that the kingdom of God would not come all at once. He likened it to a tiny seed that would eventually become a great tree (Matthew 13:31-32). Today, we often describe this tension as “now, but not yet”.

Now. Jesus has defeated the curse of sin and death that opposes God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:20). New creation began in a powerful way the morning Jesus rose from the dead. All that God has promised began to come true, available to be experienced through Christ. But it has yet to arrive fully, to pervade all creation. That time will come in the future (Ephesians 1:10).

Not yet. In the meantime, Jesus told us, life will have its difficulties. On the eve of His crucifixion, He warned His followers, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” But He was careful to connect His warning to hope: “Take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Jesus didn’t encourage His followers to “take heart” because life was going to get easier, but because the broken, disheartening aspects of life won’t have the last word. The good news of God’s kingdom holds the final say! Christ’s resurrection marked the turning point towards an end to all that is broken.

So take heart. Though it may not always look like it, little pieces of God’s kingdom are slowly falling into place.

—Jeff Olson

365-day plan: Jonah 1:1-2:10

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 and think about what it means to be part of God’s new creational work on earth. 
How has God given you a glimpse of the kingdom that will one day come in fullness? How can you participate in His new creational work?