Monday, November 12, 2012
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci
About a year ago, I went through Matthew Chapter 13 with my Sunday School class over a two month period. My goal for the study was to give the class the biblical perspective on the Kingdom from the very words of Christ. In preparing for the series, I discovered a few new things myself that were very enlightening (which is often the case in my preparations).
The synoptic Gospel of Matthew gives a very eloquent account of the drastic influence of the ministry of Jesus highlighted by His famous Sermon of the Mount in Chapters 5-7, where Jesus constantly gives reference to the Kingdom of Heaven. We understand that Matthew uses the phrase Kingdom of Heaven opposed to Kingdom of God because he was writing and ministering primarily to the Jews who considered the name of Yaweh too sacred to utter or write. The two are in fact synonymous.
Jesus seems to be effectively communicating His message and has much momentum in His ministry when suddenly...Jesus is accused by those pesky, trouble-making Pharisees of driving a demon out of a man in the name of Satan (Beelzebul) in Chapter 12.
After all of the wonderful things He had taught and demonstrated, the miracles, all of the compassion He had poured out during this concentrated period of time, the hurt from being accused of acting from evil and not from Good must have been devastating. An exhausted Jesus begins to teach further about the Kingdom of God using several analogies including the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of Weeds at the beginning of Chapter 13. To add insult to injury, it is at this point that even the disciples begin to question Jesus about what it all means...
I can't help but believe Jesus must have been completely dejected. How could the very men that had been by His side and ministered right along with Him not comprehend what He was talking and teaching about all that time? When I read Matthew Chapter 13, I visualize a huge sigh coming from our Savior between verses 36 and 37.
It is here where my personal favorite parable concerning the Kingdom of God comes from Jesus...
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Simplistically brilliant for Christ to break the matter down into terms most, if not all, of His disciples could directly relate!
We have the benefit of hindsight today and the Word that frames our points of reference as Christians. Despite that fact, there still exist much confusion and dissent among followers. We often complicate and cloud the Gospel with tradition and dogma. I can't help but believe that same sigh I imagine coming from Jesus in Matthew Chapter 13 still occurs today as He prepares to return.
My point isn't to advocate a dumbing down of our doctrine...not at all. But at the same time, just how complicated is the message to begin with when our focus is directed on two primary commandments?
You can find those over in Matthew 22, by the way...