Friday, November 04, 2011

The second half of the Gospel of Matthew (Chapters 15-28)

“Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”

(Matthew 16:16-17 ESV)

The kingdom is mentioned 52 times in the Gospel of Matthew and 21 times in this second half of the book. The phrase, “the kingdom of Heaven (or God) is at hand” is a very interesting saying. If it implies that it is within reach wouldn’t it make sense to say that it is here and now?

Throughout my reading this week, I have been drawn to the King and have a great curiosity about His Kingdom. One of the questions that have been on my mind over the past 6 to 9 months is: “What does it mean to have an eternal perspective?” As I continue to study the Word of God, I really want to understand to the extend that I can about life in the light of Eternity. One thing I do know; there is disagreement among God’s children.

In Matthew’s writings, there are some clues. As children of the King we are to have childlike faith and trust in our Heavenly Father. We are not to be concerned about position. There is to be no hierarchy among us. If you want to be great Jesus says you need to have the humility of a child.

What kind of King will rule the Kingdom of Heaven? He will be like a King described by Jesus whose forgiveness is so incredibly bountiful in mercy that our response is to be like him. We are to forgive each other because we have been forgiven so much that we could never repay. Peter was asking about forgiving one another. The language in this answer from Jesus in Chapter 18 certainly sounds like it is applicable to the here and now.

Entrance into the Kingdom is difficult as Jesus explains the parable of the rich young ruler, “but with God all things are possible.” So Peter is taking this in and says to Jesus in Matthew 19 “we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have? Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brother or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” v. 27-29 Three more questions arise about the kingdom: “what is this new world? Is Jesus talking about the kingdom of heaven? Isn’t Jesus sitting on His Glorious Throne now?

Our Lord Jesus Christ the King is the King of Celebration as depicted in the parable of the Wedding Feast. It shows that we really have no business saying you don’t belong here at the table and you do belong because it really is the King who clothes and provides for those who will sit at His banquet. (chapter 22)

The verse that grabbed me and will not let go is also from chapter 22 v. 32 “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” In Jesus answering the Sadducees about the resurrection and pointing to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If God is King and if we are living along with the saints who have gone before us, then wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that the Kingdom of Heaven is now?

Jesus being questioned by the high priest in chapter 27 says, “from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The Kingdom is now and later?

Famously quoted by Christians for different reasons, but what does the Resurrected Jesus means by this in regards to His Kingdom, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Immediately followed by “Go therefore and make disciples…” Is this an indicator that the Lord has involved us in Kingdom building today?

“this gospel of the kingdom” This is Jesus Christ…..His Gospel. Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. If the Gospel is true and for us now? How about His Kingdom? These are real questions. I am searching. These questions are not rhetorical for me.

1 comment:

Lisa McLean said...

Very cool, Caitriona! I just did a search of the gospels, the kingdom is EVERYWHERE! "The kingdom is now and later?" It appears that the answer is YES. How about Jesus: "the kingdom is within you," woah. (Lk 17.21) How about: "But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you." Woah again! Thanks for this, it's made my day take on an enhanced reality.