What is the kingdom like?
Now let us look at the descriptions that Jesus gave us about His kingdom. In [Mark 4:26] NKJV Jesus says “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” The sower sees nothing visible for a few days after sowing the seed, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening to the seed, (during this time, he cannot dig the soil and see how the seed is faring, because in doing so he will uproot the growing plant) so it is with the kingdom of God, God’s word is sown into the hearts of people and no one sees an immediate outwardly result, but the transformation starts taking place in the heart just as the seed starts sprouting root within the soil and in due time first the blade of the crop, then the head and then the full grain is visible, similarly Christian life is all about transformation, now the spirit is instantaneously changed at the new birth, however the soul and body remain the same as it was before the new birth, this means that there are no physical and mental changes in a person instantaneously though there may be physical and emotional experiences during this conversion of heart.
In [Romans 12:2] NRSV the Word of God says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds”, this is the key to Christian transformation, because our minds are the most important link between the spirit and the body. It is the mind that really governs the flesh, therefore if the mind is renewed through the Word of God then our spirit will be the ultimate governor of our mind (soul) and body, the way God created us to be originally. This renewal of mind allows spiritual truths from the Word of God to become alive in our lives and then only we begin to see the power of God flow in and through us. The Word of God renews our minds and brings about transformation of our lives, when this happens on a continuous basis we grow and mature as a Christian just like the mustard seed which being the least of seeds grows into the greatest of all herbs like a tree, so that birds can dwell in its branches [Matthew 13:31-32].
In [Matthew 13:44] NKJV, Jesus says “the kingdom of God is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Many people have interpreted the man in the parable to be a person seeking God and when they find Christ they give up everything they have to possess the treasure i.e. Christ, however, this is not what Jesus meant because for one, God and His kingdom cannot be purchased at any price, secondly we do not have to give up all our material things to obtain Christ, because if that were true for every Christian, then there would be no Christian left with and any material goods or money and without money and material goods the kingdom of God cannot be preached to the ends of the world and simply cannot advance.
Therefore it is important to have the right understanding of this parable. What Jesus really meant was that the man in the parable was God the Father and the treasure is you and God was so full of joy when He looked at you that He gave up all that He had just so that He could be with you. Indeed you are that ‘pearl of great price’ [Matthew 13:46] for whom God the Father was willing even to give up His Son, so that He could have you.
We have such an awesome loving Father who treasures us so dearly that He was willing for His Son to become flesh and dwell on earth, and when His Son Jesus preached about the Father, the people charged Him with blasphemy for calling God His Father and Himself as the Son of God [John 10:36].
God is willing that none should perish [2 Peter 3:9] and offers His grace towards us no matter how long we may have abandoned Him or rejected Him or turned away, His offer to you and me is always on, just like the parable, where Jesus explains in [Matthew 20:1] RSV “For the kingdom of heaven is like a house-holder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard” The landowner goes on to hire laborers at different intervals during the day and when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard called the laborers to give them their wages. Continuing from [Matthew 20:9-16] RSV “And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, `these last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat’. But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
In this parable Jesus clearly expresses the grace of the Father depicting His love towards us to the extent that He is willing to wait till the last hour for our return, so all those who will do so even at the 11th hour can take comfort since it is never too late to begin to turn back to God and they will be counted equal to those who were first, which refers to the first Christians: the disciples and apostles of the early church.
However this does not mean that we can goof off and be lazy to respond to the calling of God, for Jesus also warns us in [Matthew 25:1-13] that we know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will return, so be prepared like the five wise virgins who were prepared with extra oil for their lamps, and those who are like the five foolish virgins who ran out of oil will be excluded from the celebration with the door being left shut before them. So do not waste any further time, if you haven’t already, then clearly now is the time to turn to the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength [Mark 12:30] and be born with a new spirit.