Throughout Jesus’ parables, He refers to “The Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God”. Here are the ones I came across in my search, perhaps not complete but as you can see there are a lot of parables about The Kingdom.
- The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat Matthew 13:23-25
- The Parable of the Mustard Seed Matthew 13:30-32, Mark 4:29-31, Luke 13:17-19
- The Parable of the Yeast Matthew 13:32-34, Luke 13:19-21
- Three Parables of the Kingdom Matthew 13:43-45, Matthew 13:44-46, Matthew 13:46-48
- The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant Matthew 18:22-24
- The Laborers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1-3
- The Parable of the Wedding Banquet Matthew 22:1-3
- The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids Matthew 25:1-3
- The Parable of the Growing Seed Mark 4:25-27
- The Parable of the Great Dinner Luke 14:14-16
- The Parable of the Ten Pounds Luke 19:10-12
Through these parables, The Kingdom is compared to a sower in a field, a mustard seed, yeast, a hidden treasure, fine pearls, a net full of fish, a king settling his accounts with servants, a landowner hiring laborers, a king who served a wedding banquet, bridesmaids waiting for the bridegroom, and finally, those investing their masters money.
In Mark 4:10-12, Jesus said to the apostles,
“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables.”
This week I wrestled with the wedding banquet parable found in the 22nd chapter of the book of Matthew. I received this wise council from Pastor Sammy Williams,
“A parable is a story designed to tease the mind into active thought. With parables, there are no 1-to-1 correlations that you have to figure out. That would make them allegories, which they are not. Every parable has something “off” about it. Something that forces us to realize that the Kingdom is not run of the mill reality but something different.”
Throughout the season of Lent, I am blogging through Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, “The Wisdom Jesus.” As I shared in last week’s post “Life Giver or Savior”, I have found some of her teachings to be more difficult to comprehend than others. I found her teachings on The Kingdom of Heaven, to be one of the more difficult concepts. As both Jesus and my friend Sammy Williams noted above, these teachings on the Kingdom are meant to challenge us a bit and in my case, it worked.
“Jesus whole mission can fundamentally be seen as trying to push, tease, shock, and wheedle people beyond the “limited analytic intellect” of their egoic operating system into the “vast realm of mind” where they will discover the resources they need to live in fearlessness, coherence, and compassion—or in other words, as true human beings.”
Below are some of her insights into the meaning of The Kingdom of Heaven:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (that is, here) and “at hand” (that is, now). It’s not later, but lighter—some more subtle quality or dimension of experience accessible to you right in the moment. You don’t die into it; you awaken into it.
Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus’s own favorite way of describing a state we would nowadays call a “nondual consciousness” or “unitive consciousness.” The hallmark of this awareness is that it sees no separation—not between God and humans, not between humans and other humans. And these are indeed Jesus’s two core teachings, underlying everything he says and does.
Jim Marion’s wonderfully insightful and contemporary suggestion is that the Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from. It is a whole new way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that literally turns this world into a different place.
Kingdom of Heaven is his pet metaphor for life lived out of this transformed consciousness. It’s the world you bring into being when you see with the eye of singleness. And it actually exists. It’s not just a metaphor, but a transfiguration of this realm through the power of Oneness”
What if the Kingdom of Heaven were not something we die into, but something we awaken to? What if it was a metaphor for life lived out of a transformed consciousness?
What does it mean to see no separation between God and humans, between humans and other humans?
Can our transformed awareness turn this world into a different place? Can we bring the Kingdom into being through singleness or Oneness with God?
How does our understanding of The Kingdom of God shape how we live as Christians?
Jesus parables and Bourgeault’s interpretation of them, have given me a lot to ponder this week. I would love to hear your insights or any wisdom you would like to share regarding your understanding of The Kingdom.