Kingdom of Heaven: Was Balian of Ibelin a Reformed? (4)
The kingdom of heaven is surely the recurring theme of the gospels. Matthew, in particular, uses the word kingdom of heaven. In fact, only Matthew uses the term kingdom of heaven. In the other gospels, the word used is kingdom of God. There are also references in the gospels to the kingdom of the Father and the kingdom of the Son. All these, however, refer to the same thing. Comparative study of the synoptic gospels will show that they all are synonimous.
The kingdom of heaven is the main theme of Jesus’ teaching. As soon as he began his ministry, he repeated John the Baptist’s words, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Mat 4:17) And he went on preaching on the kingdom of heaven. The gospels are full of these teachings on the kingdom of heaven. Below are just a few quotes:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:3)
“Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:19)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mat 7:21)
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” (Mat 11:12)
“The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within (or among) you.” (Luk 17:20-21)
“I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5)
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)
Even after his resurrection, Jesus still proclaimed the kingdom of God. But apart from the words spoken by Jesus himself, perhaps the most well-known words pertaining to the kingdom in the gospels are these: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” These were uttered by one of the criminals who were crucified with Jesus. And we often hear that this criminal was the one who understood the kingdom more than any others during Jesus’ life on earth, even more than the disciples. Knowing well that Jesus was going to die, what a faith he had indeed! He knew that the kingdom was never an earthly kingdom, contrary to what the disciples believed at that time.
to be continued …
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- May 20, 2005 / 11:04