Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Parables of the Kingdom Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

In Matthew 13 Jesus revealed glimpses of God's Kingdom in the poetry of metaphors. 2000 years later Jesus' words still start faithful imaginations running, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed..." "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast..."

Matthew 13 is really two different sets of parables. The first set of parables were spoken to a great crowd who came to visit him by the shores of Galilee. The crowd was so great he went out a little way off shore in a boat to speak to them all. Jesus friends ask him why he spoke in parables and he pointed all of them to Isaiah 6:8-9 about stubborn minds who heard but didn't listen. Then he just went on teaching parables. The second part of Matthew 13 were Jesus' explanations for his disciples of the earlier parables and still more parables.

The Revised Common Lectionary has broken up this one chapter into chunks mixing Jesus teachings up and spreading them out over three weeks time. It's tough, out of context to be sure if Jesus is talking to the crowd or the disciples.

Different people came to Jesus with different questions. Some came wondering, "Are you for real?" others came asking, "What are you up to in my life?" Jesus draws believers into the Kingdom of God through parables. Scoffers will listen but not be satisfied. Believers will be drawn into God's infinitely creative imagination. Scoffers will be frustrated because they aren't hearing the mysteries explained away, but believers will rejoice to catch a glimpse of the wonderful mysterious reality of God.

Jesus told his listeners what the kingdom of God is like in his own terms. The crowds glimpsed the kingdom through his word. He didn't tell us the physical dimensions of God's kingdom; he told us it can start small like a mustard seeds. He didn't tell us the reach of God's kingdom he compared it to yeast's ability to transform flour and water from paste into bread.

After leaving the crowd he told the disciples that the kingdom of God was like a treasure, a pearl of great value, and a net that would bring in all the world for sorting.

For 2000 years believers have pondered these stories. We've examined facet after facet of the God's kingdom. We look at these stories with wonder and fear as we glimpse our place in Jesus' kingdom.

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