The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand
Heaven, “the afterlife”, “the hereafter”… if only someone could bring an eyewitness account from the other side, give us assurance that it does exist and tell us how to get there. Would it even make a difference if someone did? What if somebody came back from the dead? Would that be enough?
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Luke 16:19-31 – The first will be last and the last will be first.
But we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, who is this Thomas, Phillip, and the rest of the people that Jesus is sharing these mysteries with?
Jesus began his earthly ministry when her was 30 yrs old. 30 yrs have past since the Christmas story, listen how one of his disciples, his followers, Mark puts it:
Mark 1:1, 9-34 – Who is Jesus? Even if the people of his time were trying to figure that out, the demons already knew without a doubt. In fact, James writes in the Bible, “the demons believe in God and shutter”, it seems they were terrified of Jesus. But why? Jesus traveled the cities surrounding the sea of Galilee preaching, “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND, REPENT!”, and he called people to, “FOLLOW HIM”, not convert to him, nor have knowledge of him, but to follow him! He amassed a group of followers of which he picked an inner circle of 12. These 12, a rag tag group of misfits, would go on to change the world. There was Simon the Zealot, a member of the rebel Jewish group who ran interference against the Roman occupation. You have Matthew, also called Levi, who was a tax collector working for the Romans and stealing from the people. You have James and John, fishermen and brothers, called the sons of thunder. No one messed with the sons of thunder. If they had have found out that Judas Iscariot, the one who eventually betrayed Jesus, was helping himself to the group’s funds…well, Judas wouldn’t have needed to hang himself. You have Peter the brash who acts before he thinks, and Phillip the gentlemen, a man in whom Jesus said there could be found no guile. To these 7 and 5 others, Jesus shared the secrets of the kingdom of heaven.
In Matthew 13:24 – Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who planted wheat in his field but in the night his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat seeds…
Later in Matthew 13:47 – He compares the Kingdom of heaven to man who throws his net into the lake and catches all kinds of fish, good and bad… “weeping and gnashing of teeth”.
In Matthew 25 – Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to 10 bridesmaids who went out to meet the groom, 5 brought extra oil and 5 did not… “I never knew you”.
Earlier in Matthew 20 – Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a vineyard owner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his field. He agreed to pay them 1 denarius for a days work. At 9, 12, 3 and 5 the owner went out to hire others… “Do you feel cheated because I gave so freely to others?”
In Matthew 13 – Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field… Jesus also compared the kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed…
What does this all mean?
The nature of the Kingdom of Heaven is such that there is a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of light. Men will go to one of two places, and must be prepared because no one knows when their time will come. But the good news of the kingdom of light is that it’s available to all no matter if they receive it in the first or last hour of their life, and the reward is fully given to both. This reward is a great treasure, greater than anything you know, and worth giving everything you have for, including your life. The Kingdom of Heaven takes residence in a person’s heart, and it spreads like wildfire across all those in contact. It grows, because none can keep this seed of truth to themselves. Light cannot be hidden, and a kingdom of men whose hearts burn for truth cannot be stopped. The church – a collection of Kingdom bound people – is an irresistible movement. It cannot be stopped because it has no fixed location; it is not a building given to decay or a political agenda given to corruption. The Kingdom of Heaven takes ground one person at a time. Lock them up and they will strengthen each other. Divide them, and this message will spread to the ends of the earth. It’s an irresistible movement, this kingdom of God, because its source is an Omnipresent Leader. No wall, ocean, or terror can separate us. It’s impossible to find a corner of the universe that God doesn’t exist. We are never alone: we are separated by distance, language, and corrupt men; yet we are One. Some will receive the Kingdom of God with joy, while others bear hard hearts to the end. And here’s the greatest secret of all – while men’s eyes are distracted by promises of a better hereafter life, the secret of the Kingdom of Heaven is such that once seeds take root a new life has already begun. The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand; it is closer than you think. It is upon us. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never, nor will it ever overcome or comprehend. Let him who has ears hear what the Word says in the year of our Lord, two thousand and eleven.
Jesus: the Revolutionary