Summary: An introduction to the Kingdom parables of Matthew 13.
Walking in the Reign: A Study of the Kingdom of God
Introduction – January 18, 2008
Begin a new series on the Kingdom of God, called Walking in the Reign
The kingdom is a dominant theme in the Bible from the Old Testament through Jesus’ preaching and in to the rest of the NT
OT – Looked forward to a kingdom – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel – all prophesy about God establishing a kingdom
Then when Jesus comes, talk of the kingdom is rampant
We’ll be in Matthew for the most part so let’s look at the Kingdom in Matthew:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
John the Baptist
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Jesus’ first sermon in Matthew:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
You can just imagine the excitement. It’s finally here!
• Things are going fairly well, Jesus performs miracles, people are taken by his teaching – but all in all this doesn’t look like a typical kingdom.
• There’s trouble – the religious leaders, Pharisees, are upset with Jesus
• Jesus is not surrounding himself with dignitaries
• There’s no mention of getting rid of the Roman presence in Jerusalem
• And even John the Baptist, the one who announced the kingdom coming, is in prison!
Matthew 11: 2-3
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
Jesus assures John that he is the one. Everyone seems concerned, but Jesus. He’s not fazed by what’s happening. But I believe Jesus can sense that some are confused, so in Matthew 13 he devotes a block of teaching about the nature of the kingdom.
Because confusion is not good and when there’s confusion there is usually doubt, discouragement, and frustration.
I see the same thing today – in my life, in the lives of others. We talk about Jesus reigning, we talk about the kingdom of God and many times we look around and it doesn’t seem like the kingdom is actually here. I believe there’s as much confusion today about the Kingdom as there was in Jesus’ day. So we too need to be educated about the kingdom, we need to know how it works. We need to know what it’s like to walk in the reign of God. And to help us we’re going to look at the parables in Matthew 13.
There are seven of them, six begin with the introductory phrase - The kingdom of heaven is like … followed by some story, a parable. Stories that are about ordinary stuff, but bear some insight into the spiritual workings of God’s kingdom. I hope that through this study we can be less confused about that kingdom that was prophesied 100’s of years before Christ, announced by John the Baptist, and inaugurated by Jesus himself.
Today we are not actually going to look at any of the parables. Today is an introduction to two things. First we need to briefly remind ourselves what a kingdom is. And second, we wll look at Jesus’ explanation of why he used parables.
First, what is a kingdom?
A political or territorial unit ruled by a sovereign.
It is a form of government that recognizes a monarch, a king. One person is in charge. In the Kingdom of God, guess who’s in charge? GOD. He is in control. He makes the calls. Everyone else is a subject.
This may sound elementary but we must remind ourselves of the sovereignty of God. We may disagree, we may not understand, we may even get mad – but when you sign up to be part of a kingdom you sign up to be under the sovereignty of the King.
Recently heard a story of a governor from Massachusetts who was running for president. This was many years ago, can’t even remember the man’s name. But after an especially long day on the campaign trail, a day in which he was so busy he had time for neither breakfast nor lunch, he was attending a picnic event for his candidacy. A rule at the picnic was that there was enough food for only one piece of chicken per person. He went through the line, enjoyed his chicken, but was still hungry. He wasn’t a man to take advantage of his position, but today he thought was the time to do it. So he went back through line and the lady serving refused him a second piece of chicken. He said, “Do you realize who I am. I am the governor of this state. I think that entitles me to a second piece of chicken.” The lady calmly replied, “Do you know who I am? I am the lady in charge of the chicken.”