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Chapter 9 - The Kingdom Described
Jesus told Nicodemus that entrance to the kingdom required that he be 'born again'
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. - John 3:5-6
Our natural physical birth (born of water) is insufficient to enter the kingdom. There is something inside of us that is 'dead' and requires being made alive for one to be 'born again'. This may be what died when Adam and Eve sinned.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. - Genesis 2:17
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. - 1 Corinthians 15:22
Jesus used several ways to illustrate the character of the kingdom.
Tares and Wheat
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. - Matthew 13:24-30
This illustration shows that the objective of the kingdom (to obtain a harvest of wheat) is frustrated by an enemy who infiltrates the kingdom with false or counterfeit members such that only later, at harvest, can the kingdom be populated in purity. The enemy is often thought to be Satan. However, we are told that anyone who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. - James 4:4
Even if Satan is restrained during the kingdom period, and even if all who enter the kingdom are regenerated believers, their children may not follow after the Lord and some may become 'tares'.
The Mustard Seed
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. - Matthew 13:31-32
This comparison is used to illustrate that the kingdom might seem insignificant (it was introduced by 'word' not conquest), but that it would grow to much larger proportions. The reference to lodging implies a suitable habitation.
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. - Matthew 13:22
Here the pervasive character of the kingdom is highlighted. Sometimes leaven (yeast) is used to show the pervasiveness of evil. Here it is used to illustrate that the kingdom will persist and cannot be hindered and like yeast, cannot be stopped.
The Field and Pearl
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. - Matthew 13:44-46
Here we read of the true value of the kingdom. The idea of selling 'all' to obtain the kingdom reveals a value that is not at first apparent.
The Kingdom as a Net
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was
cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full,
they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but
cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels
shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast
them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of
teeth. - Matthew 13:47-50
Here the idea of adulteration is given similar to the wheat and tares. However, an additional element is introduced. The kingdom is pictured as the means by which people are gathered for judgment.
The Kingdom as a Householder
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. - Matthew 20:1-16
This parable describes how those in the kingdom are there because of an invitation and a dispensation of grace. Individual merit and achievement are not taken into consideration. The only factor that bears upon this is the goodness of God.
The Kingdom and an Invitation to a Marriage Feast
And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. - Matthew 22:1-14
In this illustration, a more particular point is made of the nation of Israel not responding to the offer of the Kingdom. Those who are not interested or unwilling to respond will find that others will be given what they did not value. The invitation to both the good and bad may indicate that the grace of God is offered to all. The ejection of the man without a wedding garment may reflect that those who have failed to clothe themselves in Christ have no access to the kingdom.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. - Galatians 3:26-27
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