Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Kingdom

"He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like, and what can I compare it to? It’s like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches.’ Again he said, ‘What can I compare the kingdom of God to? It’s like yeast that a woman took and mixed into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through the entire mixture.’” (Luke 13:18-21)

Jesus told two parables to help people deepen their understanding of what the kingdom of God is like.

We call the first parable “The Parable of the Mustard Seed.” A tiny seed is planted and grows to become a tree in which birds make their nests. The underlying thought is that the kingdom of God is welcoming, growing, and expansive.

The second parable is “The Parable of the Yeast.” A woman worked a little bit of yeast into 50 pounds of flour until it spread through the dough causing it to rise. The underlying thought is similar: the kingdom of God, though seemingly invisible, is pervasive, influential, and effective.

The people who heard these parables tended to see the kingdom of God as Israel, that is, the nation and the land of Israel. Their adhered to an objective belief about the kingdom of God. Essentially, the viewed it as the Davidic kingdom, and limited to the Davidic kingdom.

The message of Jesus to them is that the kingdom of God is way more than such provincial views of the kingdom. Their understanding was limited. Jesus was trying to move them to a deeper level, to help them see the kingdom of God as having a mysterious quality to it, as being more inclusive than they saw it, as having more of a far-reaching influence than they understood, as seemingly invisible and yet possessing an inherent power to it. Clearly, this was a challenged to them, as well as a call to move beyond where they were.

Celebrate the kingdom of God!

Lord, We confess that we, too, have a tendency to objectify things related to Your kingdom. Help us to deepen our understanding today. Amen.