The Kingdom of Heaven has come near
“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘repent, for the Kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17
“And he told them many things in parables, saying: Listen!” Matthew 13:3
“The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in their field…” Matthew 13:24
“He put before them another parable: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed…” Matthew 13:31
When Jesus burst onto the scene, this Jewish Rabbi preached “the Kingdom of heaven has come near.” We believe and proclaim that in Christ the Divine Creator and Sustainer of all things has come near to us. To illustrate this good news, Rabbi Jesus’ favorite teaching tool was to tell stories of common everyday items and relational dynamics. The Bible calls these stories “parables”. The Greek word for parable is “parabole” which literally means “to cast beside” (para = beside, ballo = to cast or to throw). So Jesus would often take earthly images and “cast or thrown them beside” truths about God and God’s kingdom. Jesus told parables about seeds, lost coins and sheep, every day jobs and tasks, good and not so good neighbors, and family dynamics (to only name a few). Jesus pointed out things that are right underneath our noses, things that are “near to us”, to share how close God’s love and grace are to us. But these stories and illustrations go deeper than words of wisdom, riddles, or metaphorical fables, these stories often have surprising twists, a punch-line that we didn’t see coming. The way God does things isn’t necessarily how we do things. God’s mercy, forgiveness and grace often surprises us or shows up in unsuspecting places.
As we continue to journey through the green season of the Sunday’s after Pentecost, I want to challenge you to open your eyes and open your ears to the nearness of God. God is closer to you than you could ever imagine! As you vacation, travel, or move through this summer with a new pace or routine, perhaps there can be new ways to see how “God’s Kingdom has come near.” As camp counselors are trained to do with each of their cabins, I hope you will not miss the “God moments” all around you. God’s seeds of love and grace shower upon us daily, they are cast beside us as we journey through life and faith. So stop, listen, take notice how “God’s kingdom has come near” to you. You just may be surprised what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
Pastor Will Rose