Matthew 13.31–33, 44–52
For Jesus, God’s realm is not some esoteric kingdom in the sweet by and by, but as close as the next mustard bush or loaf of bread.
Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol.3.
Truly, you are a God who hides himself,
O God of Israel, the Saviour. (Isaiah 45.15)
In the Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus begins his ministry with these words:
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.
The kingdom of heaven—what Mark and Luke call the kingdom of God—has come near.
What is the kingdom of God? Well, it’s something Jesus tells stories about.
We can tell that this kingdom is near because when Jesus tells stories about it, he tells stories about things that are near at hand. Jesus’ ‘Parables of the Kingdom’ are stories about farmers and seeds and merchants finding pearls and women baking bread.
But these stories have a bit of a twist. The twist is there because while the kingdom of God really is nearby, it is also hidden. You can see it—hidden in plain sight—if you know how to look. If you can repent and look with new eyes. The parables of Jesus call us to engage with them, to rethink, to redirect our heart.
In today’s terms, we could tell a parable something like this:
The kingdom of God is like an old woman in a coffee shop who pays for the strangers at the next table, and slips out before they realise it.
The kingdom of God is like a pregnant woman getting on a full bus, whereupon a gay man gives up his seat for her.