8. The Kingdom of God is a Mystery
Luke 17: 20 & 21: Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."
Here we see Jesus being asked a very specific, concrete question by the Pharisees, and Jesus answers their question on a higher level. Perhaps the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into saying something they could convict him with. We need to keep in mind that the first century Jewish expectation of the Messiah was a very literal Kingdom. The Jews were expecting governance: a social, economic, and political delivery from their enemies and for the once mighty nation-state of Israel under King David to physically become a Kingdom again. But that is not what Jesus delivered. He came to announce a Kingdom bubbling up from the past, available now, and extending into the future. A Kingdom “not of this world” a Kingdom that somehow is within those who follow him and love his Father.
It is towards this end that we pray as Jesus taught us: Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. I have done my best to discuss the many facets of this one small part of the Lord’s prayer that:
• The Kingdom is born out of love
• The Kingdom is essential
• The Kingdom is counter-intuitive
• The Kingdom is at once past, present, and future
• The Kingdom is total
• The Church must embody the Kingdom, and Christianity can actually oppose the work on the Kingdom
But all my words and quotes from other authors are but a drop in the bucket. The Kingdom of God as revealed by scripture and through the holy spirit to us personally is something that cannot be summed up by a single sermon or even a lifetime of searching. The Kingdom of God defies a singular classification, it is very much a mystery- we don’t exactly know how it works; yet we can feel its impact in every aspect of life. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Jesus talks so much about seeds or plants or things that grow. Consider the parable of the sower:
Mark 4: 1-8: Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: "Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."
The seed growing into a plant is something that on the surface is so familiar to us- if you haven’t personally then maybe you can remember your kids coming home with a Styrofoam cup full of dirt with a seed in it. We see the diagrams in our science textbooks and we think we get it. But do we really? Do we really know what makes the seed grow? It is like this with the Kingdom of God- all we can do is try our best to make ourselves and our church “good soil” and keep sowing the seed of the Kingdom to the world around us. But the growing of that seed is still very much a mystery. I pray that this weekend tills the soil of your heart. I pray that we can all work together to better understand and more faithfully pray and live the Lord’s prayer. I pray for God’s will to be done through our church for our immediate community and beyond. I pray for God to reveal to us the mysteries of his love as he sees fit. Lord, your Kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Well, there it is. I hopefully said some things not all of you agree with, so lemme hear what you got!