Ryan C. Heidenreich
BIB 105: New Testament Historical Perspective
May 14, 2014
The Kingdom of God is Like a….
In the New Testament Jesus used many parables to illustrate the truths and characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven. The word parable is derived from the Greek word, parraballo, meaning “to throw or place alongside (Nihinlola, 2007, P. 87).” According to Nihinlola (2007), a parable is “an extended metaphor or simile which compares a religious truth with a common experience or circumstance in life (p. 87).” Another common element of parables is that generally parables contrasted what the Jews expected and the hidden reality or the form of the Kingdom Jesus was about to establish (Schellenberg, 2009). Two parables that illustrate truths and characteristics of the Kingdom of God are the parable of the weeds among the wheat and the parable of the mustard seed. By understanding these parables one will discover hidden truths Jesus revealed about the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew, Mark and Luke all have versions of the parable of the mustard seed. Matthew says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches (Matthew 13:31-32).” To better understand what truths and characteristics of the Kingdom of God this parable illustrates, one has to understand the key element which is the mustard seed. The characteristics of a mustard seed is it notably small, and seemingly insignificant in seed form, however, it grows very rapidly, and it is like a very intrusive weed in that it tends to take over and spreads like wildfire once it germinates, which it does almost as soon it is sown (Schellenberg, 2009). In the Old Testament one was forbidden to plant mustard seed in a garden. Before the mustard seed was planted the garden was pure and ordered, and now that it has been planted it is polluted and chaotic. In this aspect it represents the unclean, impure and is a contaminant (Van Eck, 2013). So in light of this, the Kingdom of God represents the impure and unclean. Jesus, Himself, associated with the sinners and “unclean”. Van Eck says (2013) another aspect of the parable is it tends to attract birds. My grandpa was a farmer and he had a slingshot or shotgun or BB gun, and he would shoot the birds when they got in his cherries or other fruit. So in light of this, the birds in this parable could represent the sinners and “unclean”, whom the Jewish leaders didn’t want in their church. One of the hidden facts in this parable is, mustard is also well known for its healing, medicinal and nutritional value as well (Schellenberg, 2009). The Kingdom of Heaven is the healing, redemptive, and restorative work of Christ and it is invasive and takes over the kingdom of darkness. A modern version of this parable is the Kingdom of God is like an infectious virus that overtakes its host. Viruses are virtually undetectable to the eye without a high-powered electron microscope. They are extremely aggressive and invasive in nature; they can take over cells, bodies, computers, etc. Jesus described the Kingdom of God as violent force overtaking taking darkness. Another property of a virus is that they replicate very quickly and can spread like wildfire. Viruses can be very contagious, they are efficient and self-sustaining. Using a virus a computer hacker has the ability to reprogram a computer changing the code and overwriting commands. Likewise the Kingdom of God has the ability and tendency to essentially overtake and rewrite the programming of the code of darkness they have been programmed to and rewrite the code according to His plans.
The second parable is the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew’s gospel; the weeds tares would be considered a weed today that looked very similar to the wheat...
References: Van Eck, E. E. (2013). When Kingdoms are Kingdoms no more: A social-scientific reading of the Mustard Seed (LK 13:18-19). Acta Theologica, 33(2), 226-254. doi:10.4314/actat.v33i2.13
Nihinlola, E. (2007). "The weeds among the wheat": hermeneutical investigation into a kingdom parable. Ogbomoso Journal Of Theology, 1287-98.
Schellenberg, R. S. (2009). Kingdom as contaminant? the role of repertoire in the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven. Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 71(3), 527-543.
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