The Doctrine of "The Kingdom of Heaven"
Text: Matthew 25 : 1 - 13
When Jesus began His public ministry, He preached about “The Kingdom of heaven” (Cf. Matthew 4:17). How wonderful it was to introduce people to God via the topic of The Kingdom of Heaven (Cf. Matthew 4:23).
He introduced a powerful new dimension about the kingdom of God hitherto not emphasized. He urged His hearers to consider the spiritual and eternal aspects of the kingdom! In His famous Sermon on the Mount, He proclaimed,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Rejoice and be exceedingly glad,
for great is your reward in heaven…”
MATTHEW 5:3, 8, 10,12
You would imagine that even as Jesus preached about the kingdom of heaven, people would be challenged or moved to at least consider more about how to enter into that glorious kingdom! Jesus certainly preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and those who repented of their sins could enter into that kingdom through faith!
Sadly, the multitudes were more drawn to Him because He had the power to heal and to feed them. Instead of being drawn to His life-giving words, they were only attracted to the physical dimension of His ministry! People came to Him by the droves, and most of them could not see beyond their need to be healed from their diseases! He would have healed them of more than their illnesses! But many, like the scribes and the Pharisees demurred!
Only a small group of people became His followers. They were initially called His disciples. A further selection took place, and a group of twelve became known as His apostles (Matthew 10:1-2).
THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM
It became obvious before too long that many were so spiritually benighted that they could not comprehend even simple spiritual truths that Jesus proclaimed! Soon the disciples of Jesus noticed that their Teacher began to speak to the multitudes using parables. To their astonishment Jesus said these words,
“Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries
of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have
abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has
will be taken away from him.”
If the multitudes wanted to understand the deeper truths that lay behind the parables, they would have to make an extra effort to learn about these truths! If they made no effort at all, then they would remain in the wretched spiritual state! They would have no one to blame but themselves!
Matthew recorded a series of parables Jesus told. He compared the messages that He spoke as ” the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19). It was the responsibility of the hearers to make sure that they listened carefully and responded appropriately. Parable after parable was spoken, each containing rich spiritual truths!
The kingdom of heaven was compared to treasure (Matthew 13:44). It was also compared to a pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). Through these parables, Jesus sought to draw the interest of the multitudes!
Jesus included in that series of parables truths concerning “the end of the age”. Two parables contained the phrase, “the end of the age”. The parable of the Wheat and the Tares, and the parable of the Dragnet featured an important truth. There was such a thing as “the end of the age” (Cf. Matthew 13:39, 49).
MORE PARABLES WITH AN ESCHATOLOGICAL THEME
Jesus devoted a series of parables that had an eschatological theme. This series of parables would help the disciples to comprehend the depth of His eschatological teachings if they were to take time to think things through.
Many struggle with the application of prophetic texts. Prophecies seem to take so long before they were fulfilled! Not very many found themselves able to apply eschatological teachings into their daily life.
Jesus understood all that! However, this was essentially a wrong approach, and must be corrected! He wanted His disciples to be able to live in such a way that they were constantly expecting the end of the age, even if that prospect may be in the distant future!
The preaching of the Kingdom of heaven was not just about inviting people to enter therein! There were many other aspects of the same Kingdom. One of them had to do with Jesus as the Son of Man returning to earth to establish that kingdom.
The parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins was a case in point. Jesus used a wedding as an illustration in His parable.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them
but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
The scenario was painted very carefully. Each detail was not unfamiliar to the hearers. Jesus knew the customs of His people. Carefully, He told the story of the Ten Wise and Foolish Virgins with an eschatological significance!