I see the first block of teaching about the kingdom of heaven starting at Matthew 3: 2 and going to 8: 12. But this framework does not have the first mention of the kingdom of Jesus in it, so we need to go to the Book of Luke. The angel Gabriel has visited Zechariah and announced the birth of John the Baptist. He appears to Mary, introducing himself and stating why he has appeared to her. This introduction makes the declaration that Jesus’ kingdom over the house of Jacob will never end. (Jacob, the natural-born descendants) Actually, the first four uses of the word kingdom in Matthew and Luke form an interesting picture when taken in order.
- Luke 1:33 – The angel Gabriel telling Mary of Jesus’ future. The Heavenly view featuring past and future events.
- Matthew 3:2 to 12 – John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus by telling people to repent for the kingdom is near. Verse twelve has several forceful words that could give you the idea that the “one” may produce violent actions. Was this the prevailing thought on what the Messiah would do?
- Luke 4:5 – The Devil tempting Jesus with a shortcut to the kingdoms of the earth. Lying and bartering with humans to get what he always wanted – praise.
- Matthew 4:17 – Jesus, after He overcame the Devil’s temptations, preached repentance for the kingdom is near. The merging of the heavenly idea and the Bride for His Earthly kingdom.
“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” was the first use of the word “kingdom” in Matthew. One came from the person who was to prepare the way and the other from “The Way”. It makes me wonder if John and Jesus had the same idea when they used the word kingdom? It might seem that John was thinking of an earthly kingdom with military victories (Matthew 3:11 + 12). Jesus wanted righteousness! John’s words were true, they just came to pass with a different look than what “the people” wanted to happen!
This block of teaching about the kingdom is wrapped around the Sermon on the Mount. The additions that frame the Sermon are worth looking at in the context of what is said about the kingdom in the Sermon. 4:23 – 25 has Jesus preaching the good news in Galilee. He is healing all sorts of problems and His fame spreads. Syria, the Decapolis, and Galilee were not the bright spots of the Jewish world at the time, but the news spread to a hurting world of Gentiles (Syria, Decapolis). So, in chapter 5 when it says He went to a mountainside, it makes you wonder what mountain? Mt. Hermon near Damascus or Mt Tabor in Galilee would be possible; both of these are also possible sites for the Transfiguration. But since this study has had me looking at Elijah (because of John) and Elisha I might wonder if it could be Mt. Carmel? (It was an important place for both of these prophets.) It was by the major trade route by the sea and would have allowed the news of healings to spread quickly. On the other end of this time period of teaching are two major healings and acts of faith. 1) The leper asking for healing and being told to go to the priest as a testimony to them (Jewish). 2) The centurion (Gentile/Roman) asking for healing for a servant and his understanding of the kingdom and authority. These are perfect object lessons from the Master Teacher demonstrating the Sermon. This shows how Jesus saw the kingdom spreading, to both Jew and Gentile.
Just looking at “kingdom” in the Sermon, it seems to break down into four general areas of thought.
- This is the Father’s kingdom. Matthew 6:9 – the Lord’s Prayer.
- Positive ideals. Matthew 5:3+10, 8:11 – who belongs in it. 19b – greatness in the kingdom. 6:33 – seek the kingdom.
- Who is the least? Matthew 5:19a – poor teachers.
- Who is not getting in! Matthew 5:20 – self-righteous, 7:21 – those who do not produce fruit, 8:12 – subjects of the kingdom with no faith.
So far in my study of the Kingdom.
Studying a topic should imply that you do not know everything about the topic! In this study, I have looked at the 4th and the 1st groups of ideas on the kingdom. The 4th group was added on from my original thinking on the kingdom. To be honest, having the 1st block wrapping around the Sermon on the Mount also was not in my first thoughts either. I consider this study to be going very well because I am looking at the “old” and the “new” is surprising me every day. The Second Block study is also forcing me to add the good of the old with fresh ideas from the new.