I think the idea of the “kingdom of God” is one of the more difficult concepts for Christians to grasp. In my conversations with people, it often seems to be a primarily future construct. “One day, Jesus will return and set up his kingdom”. That’s true and I agree with that, but is that all there is to it? Jesus came on the scene announcing that the Kingdom of God was at hand, closing in, so to speak. The whole theology of the New Testament indicates that the kingdom of God is presently active and at work in this world, through the church. God’s kingdom can be described as God’s good rule – over our lives and over all creation – but the New Testament even indicates that it is God’s rule over the nations as well. But how does that work? How could they say that while Caesar still sat on the throne?
One way to understand it is to see that God’s rule is at work subversively, working right along side of the fallen world and human empires, showing a different way that ultimately leads us to the aforementioned conclusion of Christ’s return and restoration of all things.
That’s something we sort of see in our text we’ll be reading this Sunday as we continue our study in Matthew, reading chapter 14:1-21.
We’ll be reading this passage in two sections, v1-12 and then v13-21. In these two accounts we have what appears to be an intentional contrast. We have two different leaders – both of whom are called “King of the Jews”. Both stories contain an account of a feast of sorts. But the circumstances and outcomes of both stories are radically different. Here’s what I want you to do: Read through each section, back to back. Then go through and look for whatever connection you can see between them. Ask questions like: How did Herod seek to protect his kingdom compared to how Jesus went about advancing his? What practical differences were there between the two feasts ? What is Herod’s feast all about? What was the result of each feast and how did it differ?
Ask your own questions about the contrast. Then ask yourself the most important question of all: Which feast would I rather be attending? Does my answer correspond with the way I presently live my life?
It’s going to be a challenging, yet encouraging study (I hope) – see you Sunday!