Understand the kingdom

498 understand the kingdomJesus told his disciples to pray for his kingdom to come. But what exactly is this kingdom and how exactly will it come? Knowing the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 13,11), Jesus described his disciples the Kingdom of Heaven by making them pictorial. He would say, "The kingdom of heaven is like ..." and then cited comparisons, like the mustard seed that is small at the beginning, the man who finds a treasure in a field, a farmer who scatters the seeds, or a nobleman who sells all his belongings to acquire a very special pearl. Through these comparisons, Jesus sought to teach his disciples that the Kingdom of God is "out of this world" (Joh 18, 36). Nevertheless, the disciples have misunderstood his explanation and assumed that Jesus would lead their oppressed people into a secular kingdom in which they have political freedom, power and prestige. Many Christians today understand that the kingdom of heaven has more to do with the future and concerns us less in the present.

Like a three-stage rocket

While not a single illustration can do justice to the full extent of the kingdom of heaven, the following might be helpful to our context: The Kingdom of Heaven is like a three-stage rocket. The first two stages refer to the current reality of the kingdom of heaven and the third deals with the perfect kingdom of heaven that lies in the future.

Level 1: The beginning

The Kingdom of Heaven begins in our world with the first stage. This happens through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. By being whole God and whole man, Jesus brings the kingdom of heaven to us. As king of kings, wherever God is, the kingdom of heaven is also present everywhere.

Level 2: The current reality

The second stage began with what Jesus did for us through his death, resurrection, ascension, and sending the Holy Spirit. Although he is no longer physically present, he lives in us through the Holy Spirit, bringing us together as one body. The Kingdom of Heaven is now present. It is present throughout the creation. Regardless of which country is our earthly home, we are already citizens of the sky, since we are already under the rule of God and accordingly live in the kingdom of God.

Those who follow Jesus become part of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven "(Mt 6,10), he trusts them to be in prayer for the present as well as for the future. As followers of Jesus, we are called to witness to our heavenly citizenship in His Kingdom, which has already begun. We should not think of the kingdom of heaven as something that concerns only the future, for as citizens of this empire, we are already called to invite our fellow human beings to become part of this kingdom as well. To work for the kingdom of God also means to look after poor and needy people and to ensure the preservation of creation. Through such deeds we share the good news of the cross, because we represent the kingdom of God and our fellow human beings can recognize it through us.

Level 3: The future fullness

The third stage of the kingdom of heaven lies in the future. It will then attain its fullness when Jesus comes again and initiates a new earth and a new heaven.

At that time, everyone will know God and he will be recognized for who he really is - "all in all" (1, Kor 15,28). We now have the deep hope that everything will be restored at this time. It is an encouragement to imagine this state and to think about what it will be like, although we should remember the words of Paul that we can not yet fully understand it (1, Kor 2,9). But while we are dreaming of the third stage of the kingdom of heaven, we should not forget the first two stages. Although our goal is in the future, the kingdom is already present and because of that, we are called to live accordingly and to share the good news of Jesus Christ and to have fellow human beings in the Kingdom of God (present and future) to let.

by Joseph Tkach


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