The term parable in the Greek and Hebrew languages can refer to anything ranging from allegories, proverbs, and riddles, to stories. Over one third of Jesus’ teachings were through parables. In His parables, Jesus used familiar, day-to-day things to illustrate deep Biblical truths.
Jesus used parables to illustrate God’s characters such as grace and forgiveness, warn about the end days, and provide insights on the spiritual life and its struggles. Most importantly, Jesus used parables to draw attention towards the Kingdom of God and articulate the urgency and the need to be prepared and watchful.
The Kingdom of God is God’s sovereign rule over all His creation. And in a sense, the Kingdom of God is both current and future. While verses like Matthew 7:21-23 and Mark 14:25 refer to the kingdom as something in the future, Luke 17:21 says, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” We have a good measure of parables explaining both aspects. Let’s look at a few parables and see how they teach us about Kingdom Mindfulness.
1. Significance of the Kingdom
God is sovereign, and His kingdom is eternal. When a sinner repents, his sins are forgiven, and he gains access to God’s kingdom through the blood of Jesus Christ. That is why the kingdom is significant in a believer’s life. Which is also why Jesus’ parables such as the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price insist on the heavenly kingdom being a precious thing that we need to seek and hold dear.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)
“Are you basking in the wonder of this revelation?”
By grace we have been saved. The access to this heavenly kingdom came at a price – the sinless blood of Jesus Christ. That is why it is all the more precious, personal, and prized for a believer. Are you basking in the wonder of this revelation? Are you experiencing the joy that the merchant had when he discovered the pearl of great price? Are you intentional about pointing others the way to this treasure?
2. Realities of the Kingdom
As significant as the Kingdom of God is, it’s not apart from its struggles. The parable of the sower indicates that there are trials and obstacles along the way. Sometimes, the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in the heart. Several external and internal factors contribute to the growth or decline of a crop along the journey, and Jesus does shield this information from us. He wants us to be aware of what it takes to get to the end. The “good ground” in the last scenario is not happenstance.
“But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23)
“Comfort is not a given in the kingdom path.”
The Parable of the Dragnet (Matthew 13:47-50) and the Parable of the Wheat the Tares (Matthew 13:36-43) talk about separation of “good” from “bad” – true believers from false believers. It’s easy to get bogged down in the technicalities. In response to these parables, look at your life and see if you are walking the kingdom path. Interrogate and dismantle the things that weigh you down and move along.
Comfort is not a given in the kingdom path. Thorns, trials, and troubles lay waiting. Keep the enemy and his voice out of your way.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven (Matthew 13:31-35) provide an irrefutable argument that the kingdom of God grows over time. Significant, compelling, and organic growth.
“Mustard seed… is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:32)
“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13:33)
The growth comes from within and without. We grow individually and as a global church. The growth leads to service. We grow, so we can serve, so we can fulfill the great commandment. God has planted us where we are, so we can be a shelter for the birds of the air. He kneads us, so we can leaven up and satiate many people. God’s kingdom grows, along with those of us who are part of it.
Jesus used familiar things from everyday life in His parables. Mustard seeds, fig trees, sowing, tending, gardening, and fishing are all drawn right out of the lives of the general Jewish population. These parables illustrate an important aspect of the kingdom of God. Patience. It takes years for seeds to become mature trees, seasons before a crop can be harvested, and hours of braving the wind and the ocean before making a decent catch of fish.
Spiritual growth takes time. Maturity does not take place overnight. It takes a few, if not several failed attempts to learn life’s valuable lessons. The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) talks about four different soils equating to four different hearts that receive the Word of God. However, doesn’t it sometimes take four or more attempts for one heart to receive the Word and start registering growth?
It takes patience to grow in the kingdom path. And God is willing and graceful to let us make mistakes and be faithful to guide us back on the right path. Oh, how much we need His grace!
“He is patient, but he also expects fruit.”
He is patient, but he also expects fruit.
In Luke 13, Jesus told a parable about a fig tree that did not produce fruit for the past three years. The owner was about to cut it down until his employee asked for grace.
“Sir, leave it alone for one more year, and I dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.” (Luke 13:8-9)
Fruits that can only be found when there is watering and fertilization. Are you working on producing the fruit He expects?
The last (yet most important) lesson of a parable about the Kingdom of God is the importance of being ready. The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), the Fig Tree (Matthew 24:32-35), and the Faithful and Evil Servant (Matthew 24:45-51) all talk about being watchful and prepared for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The wise virgins brought enough oil to last them till the groom arrived. They were prepared. They were not complacent like the foolish virgins or reckless like the evil servants who lost sight of their purpose when the master delayed his arrival.
“We can’t lose focus on heavenward thinking.”
We’ve already established that patience is important when it comes to the kingdom and kingdom work. Since we don’t know either the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come, we’ve got to be ready all the time. We can’t lose focus on heavenward thinking. We have to build our lives with an eternal perspective. The journey is as important as the destination. For when He finally comes, we want Him to address us as good and faithful servants.
“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” (Matthew 24:45-46)
“The Kingdom of God is also the hope for our future.”
Let’s be mindful of the fact that the kingdom is real and present. In God we can find strength for our trials, comfort for our weary souls, and joy amidst all that life presents. The Kingdom of God is also the hope for our future. Therefore, aim to be the faithful and wise servant who receives the blessings when his master returns. Looking forward to a home in heaven with the ruler of the universe, tread this narrow path, holding on to His promises.
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