Kingdom Focus (Matthew 13-14)

In Matthew 13 we see the return of “the kingdom of heaven” that was spoken about earlier in the chapter. I love how when Jesus explains things to the people and tells his parables, he uses things that they can understand and relate to. Lots of times I find myself referring to memories of the “agriculture” unit I did in grade 1 in Saskatchewan so that I can understand (literally learned about how to harvest wheat, so if you’re curious…). What intrigues me is that the disciples didn’t understand everything he was saying either – though I suppose this is because they didn’t know the ending of the story yet.

The fact that almost the entirety of chapter 13 is on the Kingdom of Heaven implies that it has to be important, but the parables that stand out to me today are the latter ones about the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value. The first time through, it is a reminder of how much we are supposed to “hate” the world to the point that we would give everything we have away to possess the kingdom.

However, it also works the other way around as well. When I was at camp we had a sermon from this point of view, and it completely humbles me. God thinks that we are that pearl or treasure, and that we too are worth losing everything for, even his son. It speaks into the beautiful story of the gospel that God would see us as things of value. And through this we are God’s chosen instruments to continue to spread the kingdom as the mustard seed and leaven (yeast) do in the earlier parable (13:31-33).

Didn’t really see how Chapter 14 related, so new topic.

The death of John the Baptists is a little sad to me, because first off, Herod’s predicament seems rather akin to the one Xerxes was in Esther with all those decision he made he couldn’t reverse because he was king. However, I know that his story had to end this way, because otherwise I believe God wold have done it differently. Looking at John’s whole life, I am reminded that the pursuit of Christ in this world is not going to be easy, if it is we may be doing something wrong. Our whole lives have to be focused on living for Him.

Then we see more demonstrations of Jesus’ power in feeding five thousand people, and then walking on water. I can never fully wrap my mind around the five thousand part, probably because I can’t imagine what that many people would look like. However, I can imagine the walking on water, and it’s pretty cool in my mind. I always like to remind myself the role Peter plays in the story though, and instead of focusing on his failure, I also like to note his success in actually having faith enough to get out of the boat. I think it is a perfect example of how we first have to get out of our own boats and follow Christ out of our comfort zone, but then we also have to keep our focus on him. He never leaves, but sometimes we too get distracted by the wind and seas and start to doubt and sink.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

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