Episode 11 Kingdom of Heaven
To understand the Gospel Accounts it is important to recognise that whilst they have relevance in every generation and to all people, those who first heard it were mainly Jews, living under the Torah, Moses law.
Even a fisherman named Peter could claim that he had never eaten anything unclean. Even for sceptics the cultural pressure would ensure that they would be afraid of doing anything which could see them banished from the synagogue or Temple.
So it is in the light of their religion they would have understood Jesus’ teaching and parables.
Matthew, after his introduction, begins in Chapter 3 by declaring John the Immerser (baptiser) came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That is near.
In chapter 4 he tells us that Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
In Ch. 10 Jesus sends out the twelve disciples, He tells them that as they go they are to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mark likewise begins his account with Jesus saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Luke, in Ch 12, informs us that Jesus sent the twelve “to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”
Luke also tells us in Ch 10 that Jesus sent out 70 and that they were to “Heal the sick and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you to you.”
John tells us in Ch 3 that “unless you are born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God.”
You may be asking, “What is this kingdom of heaven?”
Put simply, a kingdom consists of a number of people ruled by a king.
And if it is heavenly kingdom then its king is from heaven.
Put another way, it is a kingdom whose members are made up of those who willingly submit to the authority of its heavenly king, out of love and not out of fear or compulsion.
And who is its king? Whether you say God or Jesus is immaterial since the Father and the Son are one.
Is it above in the heavens or is it on earth?
Jesus taught us to pray, “May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” So it is wherever God’s will is being carried out.
All the Bible references to the kingdom state that it is near, or in your midst, suggesting it has not yet been fully realised.
That is until we read Revelation Ch 10, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have come,”
Satan no longer has an entrance to God’s court in heaven, he has been cast down to the earth where for a short time he will persecute the Jews, and those who follow Jesus.
Shortly Satan is going to be cast into the bottomless pit for a millennium.
He will be released for a season and then cast for ever into the lake of fire and brimstone to join the beast and the false prophet. But that will have to wait for a future episode.
Consider some of Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom in Matthew 22:2-14
2"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.
3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'
5"But they paid no attention and went off — one to his field, another to his business.
6The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them.
7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.
9Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.'
10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.
12'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.
13"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
14"For many are invited, but few are chosen."
I’m sure you have identified the king as being God and the son as Jesus.
What of those who had been invited? Well his hearers would have recognised that He was referring to Israelites and their Leaders.
What of those who paid no attention and carried on with their own business? I hope you are not one of them, for they missed the greatest feast of all time.
And the servants who were ill treated are the prophets who came in the name of the Lord. Or in today’s language, those who told you about your need to accept Jesus as your Master.
In verse 10 the servants weren’t told to ask how good the people were before inviting them to the feast.
But notice, to attend the wedding of God’s Son, you have to wear the correct wedding garments. So what are these garments?
You must recognise that however good you think you have been you still need to admit of your unworthiness to share in the Son’s wedding.
By recognising your own unworthiness, and willing to accept what Jesus did for you on the cross, you can be made clean from your sins.
In terms of the parable, have your garments washed by the shed blood of the Saviour. That is, have your sins washed away.
For those who refuse, only one option is open to them, not to partake in the wedding feast, and join Satan and his crowd.
Perhaps the most important passage concerning the kingdom is found in Matthew’s Gospel Ch 6 verse 33.
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.