This is a series of short articles emphasizing the teachings of the Christ. Most are brief explanations of scriptures that are helpful topics for conversation.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please send us an email.
1. The Kingdom of the Heavens (John 18:36)
2. Establishing the Kingdom of the Heavens (Daniel 2:44)
3. The Kingdom of the Heavens has Drawn Near (Matthew 10:7)
4. The Kingdom is like a Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32)
5. The Pearl of High Value (Matthew 13:45-46)
6. Producing Kingdom Fruit (Matthew 7:17-18)
7. Christ is the Way (John 14:6)
8. A New Commandment (John 13:34)
THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
“My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”
– John 18:36
The Kingdom of the Heavens is often likened to a government. However, it is not political in any way. It is not of this source.
It is more accurate to liken it to the governing of a family – the Family of God, the Father. It is the realm of sonship – the realization that you are a son of God and the acceptance of your responsibility to imitate the Father.
We may recognize our Fatherhood of God, but unless we also recognize the brotherhood of man, we are really an incomplete and dysfunctional family.
A brotherhood is merely social religion. The Kingdom of the Heavens is true, complete, personal religion and it transcends all other relationships for the ultimate good of all.
When you truly realize that you are a son of the Universal Father and accept your responsibility to imitate the Father, you have entered into the Kingdom of the Heavens.
ESTABLISHING THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”
– Daniel 2:44
Setting up the Kingdom of the Heavens does not mean “initiating” or “inaugurating” the Kingdom. The Kingdom of the Heavens was established the moment God began creating. His first creation was his Son. Thus, the family – the Kingdom – was simultaneously created.
Setting up the Kingdom as practiced by Jesus and his apostles was establishing the Kingdom’s reality on earth among men, and preparing mankind to enter into it.
This setting up of the Kingdom continues down to this day as each man, woman and child is introduced to the reality of the Kingdom and invited to take their place in it as children of God.
THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS HAS DRAWN NEAR
“As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’”
– Matthew 10:7
The Kingdom has not “drawn near” in time such that it will soon “come.” Neither has the Kingdom “drawn near” in space such that it is physically closer to the earth.
The Kingdom of the Heavens has “drawn near” in that mankind is finally at a level of comprehending it and entering into it.
The Christ came to open our minds and show us how to think spiritually. He explained our Father to us unlike anyone before him was able to do. He established the reality of the Kingdom in the minds of men on earth. And to those who began to comprehend it, it had “drawn near.”
The Kingdom has practically always existed and has always been near. But until mankind could grasp spiritual realities, and believe in the Kingdom’s existence, he could not enter into.
THE KINGDOM IS LIKE A MUSTARD SEED
“The kingdom of the heavens is like a mustard grain, which a man took and planted in his field; which is, in fact, the tiniest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the largest of the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and find lodging among its branches.”
– Matthew 13:31-32
The Kingdom of the Heavens is the simplest of all religious concepts. It is simply:
(1) God is the Father of every man; and
(2) every man is your brother.
The law of the Kingdom of the Heavens is also simple:
(1) love the Father with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength; and
(2) love your neighbor as yourself.
It has no other dogma attached to it.
When we plant this tiny, yet powerful seed in our hearts, we begin to sprout righteous fruit. Instead of taking laws from outside ourselves and applying them, we learn the law of love from the Kingdom seed within ourselves and manifest them. The truth becomes our own and we need no one teaching us what to do or how to act. The spirit is leading us.
All persons thus lead by the spirit will eventually grow to the full stature of the Christ and become a spiritual tower where others can find comfort and refreshment.
THE PEARL OF HIGH VALUE
“Again the kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking fine pearls. Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it.”
– Matthew 13:45-46
The Kingdom of the Heavens is a pearl of high value to those conscious of their spiritual need. When such ones find the simple kingdom message, they willingly sell all other “messages” and promptly take hold of the Kingdom seed.
We must be willing to give up all other ideas, religious concepts, doctrine, dogma, etc., when we find that true pearl of high value.
Once we have freed ourselves of all other ideas, we can then begin to accumulate knowledge, but only that knowledge that is consistent with the valuable pearl.
PRODUCING KINGDOM FRUIT
“Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit.”
– Matthew 7:17-18
True religion is manifest by our conduct – our fruits. But it is an error to concentrate on producing fine fruit. No amount of effort can make an apple tree produce oranges.
The challenge is not to try to produce fine fruit, but to be a fine tree.
Fine trees are produced by placing ourselves in good soil (a spiritual environment); absorbing the nutrients in that environment (encouraging fellowship); taking the waters of truth (continuing to actively seek knowledge and wisdom); and turning to the light (following Jesus’ example of unhypocritical godly devotion).
When we are fine trees, the fruit will follow.
CHRIST IS THE WAY
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
Jesus is the way to the Father. If we follow his example, we find the Father.
However, following Jesus’ example does not mean doing everything he did. (Otherwise we should all be carpenters). But it means living as he lived.
Jesus was wholly devoted to the Father and to doing the Father’s will. He was true to himself and never acted out of harmony with what he believed to be right. He did not act out of fear or a desire for flattery. He was a genuine person who manifested his human qualifies in a honorable way.
Only by being true to what we know to be right do we begin to imitate Jesus and find the “way.”
A NEW COMMANDMENT
“I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also love one another.”
– John 13:34
Jesus said the above words on the night he instituted the Memorial Supper. But just a few days earlier in the temple, when asked by a scribe ‘what is the greatest command:’
"Jesus answered: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’ The second is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
– Mark 12:28-31
So how is the commandment he gave on his last night new?
It was new in that it was not concerning our neighbors; it was concerning our brothers. It was greater than loving your neighbor as yourself. It was loving another ‘just as Jesus loves us.’
So what is different about the way Jesus loves us?
Jesus answered that question later in the conversation that night when he said ‘whoever has seen me has seen the Father also.’ (John 14:9) They saw the Father being expressed in the life of Jesus. The actions of Jesus were the actions of the Father to His children; the expressions of Jesus were the expressions of the Father to His children; the looks of compassion and understanding of Jesus were the looks of the Father’s compassion for and understanding of His children; and the love of Jesus was the love of the Father. Yes, it is more than brotherly love, it was with a fatherly love that Jesus loved them!
A loving parent truly knows his children and understands them, and for this reason it is easy to forgive them. It is in a parent’s nature not to withhold from their offspring their goodness, kindness, compassion, mercy, and love. They are forever seeking the welfare of their sons and daughters. And if it came down to it, they would even die for their children!
Accordingly, in order to observe this new commandment, we need to draw close to our brothers, and come to understand them – their motives, their intentions, their sentiments. This will lead to truly knowing them, which will lead to truly loving them with the fatherly love, ‘as Jesus loves us.’
Associate Writers of
01/20/14 Visitor has different opinion of what Jesus’ ‘new commandment’ is.