This past weekend we Canadians celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday and this year my family had so much to be thankful for. My sister got engaged, we celebrated my mother’s 70th birthday, my parents had a big announcement, and God continues to bless my family with love, and good health. It was indeed a weekend of giving thanks to God, for everything we have. I even gave thanks that my injury happened after Easter, and was early enough in the year for me to fully recover so that I could host Thanksgiving. God is good.
Today I was reading the 8th chapter of Matthew and, in light of my questions from last week about the kingdom of God, there was a phrase in particular that really caught my attention “but the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” I wanted to understand who these “subjects” were and of what “kingdom”. Who was Jesus referring to?
In my research I learned that the Jewish people referred to themselves as children, or subjects, or members of the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. So then I got to thinking, when Jesus announced, after his baptism, that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, was this his call to his people? Was this another way of him announcing to the Jewish people that their messiah had arrived? Sure a kingdom is a place, but a kingdom is also it’s people. Maybe the kingdom of heaven isn’t just the gospel, maybe it’s all of us. Maybe this was an announcement that there would be a new belief, that some who thought they knew God would fall away because they had to give up too much (power, money, authority) as the kingdom, through Jesus, transformed from one in which only a priest could access God, to one in which we could all access our heavenly Father.
I’m not a biblical scholar, but thinking about it in this way helps me to maybe have a clearer understanding of how Jesus’ calling people to the kingdom of heaven fits into the idea that, like Abraham, we are justified by faith. And then when I think back to the faith expressed by the centurion in Chapter 8, his recognition of Jesus as the absolute authority over life and death, so much so that He (Jesus) need only speak the word for his servant to be healed…maybe Jesus is also announcing that HE is the kingdom of God. He is calling us to be a part of Him. And if Jesus is the Kingdom of God, we are all a part of it simply by knowing and believing in him.
Still praying for God to help me grow in my faith in knowledge of him, everyday.