Jewish people have always had a lot of problems with Jesus of Nazareth—when He was on earth and still today. The biggest problem and an intriguing question: Is He indeed the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament? And if He is, where is the promised kingdom?
Matthew, the tax-collector-turned-Apostle, wrote his Gospel primarily to the Jews of first century Israel to answer their questions about Jesus and His kingdom. This month, as we study the Gospel of Matthew, we’ll see how it still speaks to readers in the twenty-first century. We’ll look at how Jesus described the kingdom in His parables (Matthew 13) comparing it to the work of the farmer sowing seeds, to the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure, the pearl, and the net. We’ll examine the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6) from the kingdom perspective. We’ll read the famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and we’ll be amazed at the paradoxes of the kingdom and how different it is from our world. There, happy are not the rich, the talented, the successful, the elegant, the spiritual, the intelligent, or the educated—but the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, those who mourn, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
So, how do we get to this mysterious kingdom? In The Chronicles of Narnia, the four Pevensie children find themselves in the land of Narnia, where things are completely different from their world of England during World War II. Created by the imagination of C. S. Lewis, Narnia is an allegory of the kingdom of God where the four children, “sons of Adam and daughters of Eve,” become kings and queens. The way to Narnia was through the wardrobe in the old house. Once they found their way through the wardrobe, they’ve reached their destination.
One of the paradoxes of Christianity is that Christ is both the way and the destination. Emmanuel, God with us, ushered in the kingdom of God on earth in every heart that belongs to Him—“The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21, KJV). And He is the way to the kingdom—“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The religious leaders in Jesus’ days didn’t understand the paradox, didn’t recognize the King, and missed the kingdom. The powerful and the influential rejected Him. It took the “least of these,” the universally despised tax collector, to tell them about the Messiah and His kingdom.
Dear readers, let us pore over the “kingdom living manual” this month from the King Himself. C. S. Lewis once said, “I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” If we have Jesus, we already went through the wardrobe and we have the kingdom. Let us strive to live like its true inhabitants!