Perhaps you have asked yourself this question before or perhaps it has been asked to you: “I wonder what heaven is like?” This can be a common inquiry and there are only a few references in Scripture that give us a small glimpse of the majesty, magnitude, and magnificence that will be the future home for all believers in Jesus Christ. But even more intriguing than what it will physically look like is the reality of how it operates. How does one gain access to this kingdom? What does living in God’s Kingdom look like? Can we experience this right now? What is it like?
It is out of some of these questions that we enter into a new 8-week series entitled: The Kingdom of God is Like… What will follow will be a short study of 8 of the Kingdom Parables that Jesus told during His ministry here on Earth. Each one offers a key, a glimpse, and secret sneak peek into what life in this Kingdom will be like. Jesus’ intent with these Kingdom Parables is to give His followers a look and an understanding of His Kingdom that is right here and right now as well as what it will be.
Jesus uses a unique method for delivering this information; He speaks in parables. Parables are more than stories and they are more than illustrations, images, analogies, or metaphors. They are like catching a glimpse of another world where you get to see things as they are in a unique, practical, and relatable way. Jesus speaks to the crowds in parables to reveal the secrets of God’s Kingdom, but only some could understand what He was truly talking about and meaning. For many people, their unresponsiveness to Jesus and their rejection of His teaching made it impossible for them to hear the true message, but to the ones who sought to see and hear Jesus for who He is, the treasure trove of these parables changed their lives.
The reality of these parables is not that God will establish His Kingdom, which He definitely will, but that it has already arrived in a form that is different than what was anticipated or expected. Jesus came to usher in a new reality about Himself that looked backwards or upside-down to popular culture, society, and understanding. But it was these differences that make all the difference for you and me.
Our first parable we are going to look at this week will help set the stage for this: The Parable of the Sower. In this familiar story of a farmer planting seeds, we see the different levels of responsiveness and receptivity to the seeds, which are the Word of God. In each case, the seed is allowed to be spread, shared, and begin to grow, but each heart and ear that receives this seed does not accept it or welcome it to grow. But the encouraging news for us is that this does not stop the sower from scattering seed and this does not diminish the growth of the seed that does land in good soil. As we enter into this series, may each of us be eager to have eyes to see what God is doing and how He is at work and may we be given the ears to hear, listen, and receive this message from Him as the gift that it is to us.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette