Originally published Monday, 23 April 2012.
While I was reading through my Bible chronologically last year, one of the things I noticed when I made my way into the New Testament was how so many—nearly all, it seemed—of Jesus’ parables revolved around explaining what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like…,” he starts off, going on to compare it to some field workers, a group of bridesmaids, treasure hidden in a field, a king throwing a party, servants entrusted with silver, seed planted in a field, yeast for making bread, a pearl of great value, a net that catches fish of all sorts.
I knew Jesus was always telling parables, using them as a way to speak to his listeners’ truest hearts as they seek to unlock the mysteries hidden within his words. As he said to them, “Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!” (Matthew 13:9)
The thing that I didn’t really notice, until now, was just how much they all had to do with describing, explaining, and warning about what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. There are a few other parables that have to do with other stories, but nearly all are about this Kingdom to come.
And it made me wonder… Why?
Why did he keep hammering this point home? Why did he keep telling the people in dozens of ways how this Kingdom will take them by surprise, that they must be prepared for this Kingdom, that they must seek it out at all costs and treasure it, that they must be willing to give up everything for this Kingdom?
Oftentimes with these parables, he’s speaking directly to Jews, people who knew the Torah well and had been raised in a culture that was waiting expectantly for the Messiah.
Yet, they were the very ones who were blind to the fact that He was actually among them. Though they were looking, they could not really see Him when He was right before their eyes.
They misunderstood what the mission of the Messiah was really all about and were led astray to the point of killing the very one who came to set them free.
And that was what he preached against, time and again. Hammering away against these misunderstandings, stripping away the ill-gotten perceptions, helping them see the truth, the way, the life of this Kingdom.
As we read these words--centuries later after the Messiah has come and gone and again we await his return—perhaps they are as much for us as they were for those first-person witnesses: Stories to keep us from being led astray. Stories to remind us what this Kingdom we’re awaiting is really all about. Stories that prepare us for the day when that Kingdom is at hand.
As Jesus preached again and again to the crowds that flocked to him, so we ought to keep preaching to ourselves. Because it can be so easy to miss the point, to get distracted and confused and off track. It can be so easy to get it wrong and miss it entirely.
And that’s the thing about the Kingdom of Heaven; it’s so important, so meaningful, so everything that to miss out on it is a grievous thing. That’s why Jesus spent so much time talking about it, in hopes that one of the ways he would say it would open our ears and fill our hearts with such love that that Kingdom would overwhelm our lives.
To those first disciples, Jesus explained, “You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge.
“But to those who are not listening, that is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don’t really see. They hear what I say, but they don’t really hear, and they don’t understand.
Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."
Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.
Related Posts from Life Blessons
Lessons from Nehemiah: More Than a Man Who Rebuilt a Wall
Taking a Judaism Class