The weather this past week was extraordinary for March. People I hadn’t seen all winter suddenly emerged from their homes and offices and were out soaking up the sunlight and warm temperatures. Signs of life were blooming on the church property as well. The photo, above, was taken in front of the parish house on Tuesday morning, when all of a sudden even the posies decided to emerge.
Jesus’ parables, mentioned this week by Mark, also focus on a season of emergence; the season in which the kingdom of God is emerging. At this point in Mark’s Gospel, the kingdom of God was hidden to some, but God’s plan for it to emerge in the hearts of men and in the creation was such that it could not be ignored as it continued to grow and be revealed. To keep this in perspective, we need to go back to one of the main anchors of this book, which is Mark 1:15. Jesus earthly ministry and preaching can be summed up in His first words of ministry: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus came to announce that the kingdom of God is now at hand and the King (Jesus) is present. Jesus is not only the King, but He is also the good news (the Gospel). Rescue from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God/light comes through faith in what Jesus did to accomplish that rescue. He lived a righteous life, died on the cross to satisfy God’s wrath for our waywardness and rose from the dead that His disciples might overcome death. Despite their continued waywardness, His righteousness was attributed to His disciples and their transgressions against God were attributed to Christ via their God given faith (talk about good news, huh?!). That great exchange, which comes by faith in Jesus, continues to announce the growth of the kingdom one disciple at a time.
The emergence of the kingdom happens in what seems like an unusual manner. Do you notice, in the text, one or more truths about the kingdom of God that some might consider surprising?
C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity) and Tim Keller (King’s Cross) have referred to verses 24 and 25 as the “central organizational principle of the kingdom of Christ.” Why do you suppose they say that? Can you think of examples of when this principle was validated through your own walk in the kingdom?
Bonus Question: These parables allude to a number of Old Testament prophecies. Can you spot any of them (hint – Isaiah, Daniel and Joel)? What meaning do they give to the parable with regard to the emerging kingdom of God?