"The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like..."

Jesus often taught in parables — stories or illustrations that use familiar, ordinary features of life to teach spiritual concepts. Several of those parables begin with, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”  These lessons were meant to teach something about the nature of God’s rule in the hearts of men.

Many first-century Jews envisioned that God’s Messiah would storm onto the scene and establish an Israelite kingdom of earthly power and dominance. As Abraham’s descendants, faithful Jews would be automatically swept into this kingdom, while all others would be either converted or destroyed. Jesus’ parables, however, described God’s kingdom in very different terms. For instance…

  • It would spread through invitation, not force. And that invitation would be extended to all. Its rule over men would depend on the response of their hearts (read the parable of the sower, Luke 8:4-15).
  • It would have small, humble beginnings (read the parable of the mustard seed, Mark 4:31-32).
  • It would conquer by transforming men from within, not crushing them from without (read the parable of the leaven, Luke 13:21).
  • Rather than being overtaken by this kingdom, men would have to seek it out, and they must be willing to give everything to obtain it (read the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price, Matthew 13:44-46).
  • Citizenship in this kingdom would be through righteousness, not nationality. Those unwilling to be its citizens would fall under God’s judgment (read the parable of the dragnet, Matthew 13:47-50).

This is how Jesus — the King — described the kingdom of heaven. Are you in it? Is it in you?