Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven

“If you have ears, pay attention to what I am saying” (Eyewitness Stories Matthew 13:9).

Eyewitness: pp. 86-88
Eyewitness Stories: Matthew 13
In Your Bible: Matthew 13

The Kingdom of Heaven is not merely a location, a body of believers, or a view of what will happen. It is living for the Lord God Almighty with right purpose, right attitude, and right perspective – right now.

Jesus captivated listeners with a treasure trove of parables in Matthew chapter 13. Here, nine times he mentions the Kingdom of Heaven.

He Gathers Them

Jesus tells us that we are not to judge who believes in God. God/His reapers/His angels (depending upon which Bible version you read) will gather those who truly believe to Himself. We see one role the angels/reapers play in these two parables: – the Tares (Eyewitness Stories, Matthew 13: 24-30) and the Fishing Net (Eyewitness Stories, Matthew 13: 47-50).

Our assignment is to spread the Word. Some will accept it and some will reject it. We must keep sowing the gospel message. Do not be discouraged when some refuse to accept the good news.

Priceless Gift

Salvation is a priceless commodity. A believer must commit everything he has to the Lord and even risk all – salvation is that valuable. These two parables exemplify the value of God’s gift: – the Hidden Treasure (Eyewitness Stories, Matthew 13: 44) and the Costly Pearl (Eyewitness Stories, Matthew 13: 45,46).

Transformation Process

Through faith, Jesus initiates a transformation process greater than the believer can understand. Likewise the church triumphant starts small but will become very big. That same concept applies to our own faith. These two parables reveal this: the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13: 31,32 and Leaven (Eyewitness Stories, Matthew 13: 33).

Consider reading Matthew 13:44-46 slowly – out loud. Hearing the parable (not merely reading it) will replay what Jesus’ disciples heard. They said yes, when Jesus asked if they understood what he’s told them these parables concerning Kingdom of Heaven.

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus Christ with such a powerful teaching on Your Kingdom. Help us grasp all He taught.

Questions: What words, that you read today, inspire you to continue to tell people the gospel message? How can you best cultivate a friend’s openness to Jesus?

Insights into the Kingdom of Heaven

“I teach stories because some people with open eyes choose to see nothing. They listen with their ears but hear nothing” (Eyewitness Stories Matthew 13:13).

Eyewitness: pp. 85,86
Eyewitness Stories: Matthew 13:14,15
In Your Bible: Matthew 13:14,15

After teaching the parable of the Sower/Seed, Jesus frankly speaks to his disciples. He makes sure they know he’s giving the mysteries of the Kingdom through parables and stories. These mysteries reveal the Kingdom of Heaven.

Prophet’s Foretold It

Isaiah, the prophet, understood the fullness of God’s character: In judgment and mercy, discipline and grace, justice and forgiveness, exile and salvation. He earnestly challenged his people to return to God and prophesied many times about the Messiah to come. *

Jesus Said It

Jesus encouraged those he taught to open their eyes and ears – telling them: “How fortunate you are to have eyes that see and ears that hear. I assure you, many prophets and righteous people have wanted to see what you are seeing. They wanted to hear what you are hearing, but they could not” (Eyewitness Stories Matthew 13:14,15).

Jesus also says the same thing Isaiah said in stronger words in one Bible version. ** Men would refuse listen, refuse to hear, and refuse accept the truth. Other prophets also warned the Israelites too.

Jesus often reiterated what God had been saying for centuries, in stories or parables making them understandable and memorable for believers. Praise God that we have a written message in the Word of God. Through them we can pursue the insights Jesus gave about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your living Word – Jesus and the Holy Spirit who guide us into the Truth. What a wonder you are.

Questions: What other passages in Isaiah can you recall that refer to the coming Messiah? (There are many for sure.)

* Christian Growth Study Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Corporation, Comments on Isaiah, p. 710

** Dakes Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, Dake Bible Sales, Inc., Lawrence, Georgia 330246, 1991, p. 14 New Testament.

Mysteries of the Kingdom of God

Eyewitness Stories: Matthew 13: 11-17, Mark 4: 10-13; Luke 8: 10-11
The Message: Mark 4: 11-15
In Your Bible: Matthew 13: 11-17, Mark 4: 10-13; Luke 8: 10-11

A parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, capturing the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, yet it leaves doubt as to its application. * Jesus emphasized the need for his disciples to listen carefully to these parables. For in them were mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven!

Insight for the Believer

In New Testament times, a mystery meant something unintelligible to the outsider but was crystal clear to the informed. ** I like this wording from The Message:

He [Jesus] replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely.

“But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it “ (Matthew 13:11-15 The Message).

Warning – Listen Carefully

Jesus knew his disciples needed additional attention and more understanding as they built on his teaching. He explained this to them more precisely, saying, “If you do not understand this illustration [parable], you will not understand any other” (Eyewitness Stories Mark 4:13). He emphasized the need to listen carefully, because these parables show the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven.

Prayer: Father, thank you for these parables. Help me to grasp Jesus’ teachings on the mysteries of the Kingdom. They are truly words of life.

Questions: As a disciple of Jesus, what parables are difficult for you to grasp?

* The Parables of the Kingdom, C. H. Dodd, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, p. 5.

** The Daily Study Bible Series, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, p. 64.

Come To Me – Children

“Allow the little ones to come to me”(Eyewitness Mark 10:14c).

Eyewitness: p. 178
Eyewitness Stories: Mark 10: 13-16; Matthew 18: 3
In Your Bible: Mark 10: 13-16; Matthew 18: 3

Many times people brought children to Jesus for him to touch and bless them. Here, he uses children as an example of the openness, honesty, and eagerness/seeking necessary to become believers. Jesus says “come to me.”

Little Ones Come To Me

In this account his disciples were not ungracious men. They wanted to protect Jesus as his time came near to entering Jerusalem…and facing the Cross. When Jesus saw his disciples trying to keep the little ones away, he objected loudly.

Jesus said, “Allow the little ones to come to me. Of such is the Kingdom of God. Without exception, I tell you, those who do not accept the Kingdom of God like a young child cannot enter” (Eyewitness Stories Mark 10:14c, 15).

The Kingdom of God

Jesus used children’s openness as an example for all to see. Yes, children readily saw compassion in Jesus eyes.

What Jesus sees in children:

  • Humility and Obedience -they have not yet learned to think of pride and prestige
  • Trust – acceptance of authority and confidence in other people
  • Short memory – they have not learned to bear grudges and nor harbor bitterness

Indeed, of such character are child-like believers in the Kingdom of God. * Yes, Jesus says, children/little ones come to me.

Prayer: Father, help me understand Kingdom principles as a little child. Keep me hungry for your Word. Keep me loving as You love.

Questions: Why does it seem strange for Jesus to rebuke his disciples? When you consider the fact that Jesus knew how close he was to undertaking his father’s plan, is his patience with children even more amazing?

* The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of Mark, William Barclay, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, pp. 241,242.