Jesus and the Kingdom of God. The Book of Matthew. In the end when the apostles achieve eternity, they will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. The apostles’ authority would pass to their successors, the bishops, who sit on thrones called cathedras (Greek for throne), in big buildings called cathedrals. Jesus doesn’t want them to get inflated, so he tells the story of the laborers who came to work at different times but all received the same wage. The denarius everyone gets is Jesus (according to John Bergsma in “New Testament Basics for Catholics”). James and John Zebedee, wanting to sit next to Jesus, don’t understand that the kingdom is about service, not about lording it over everyone else……………………. The last great discourse is the eschatological discourse. In 24 and 25 Jesus describes the “end times” of two things: Jerusalem and the world. He is describing both at once. Jerusalem was the temple city, the “navel” of the universe, whose temple represented the whole cosmos. The Temple was decorated with sun, moon and stars. Jews viewed the cosmos as a macrotemple and the Temple as a microcosmos. Therefore, the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple was a premonition of the end of the world…………………………. John Bergsma tells us that the human race will not pass away before God brings the final judgment. There are three parables about being ready for the end: 25:1-13, The parable of the 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom, 5 were wise, but 5 were foolish, not having enough oil in their lamps. They were locked out when the festivities started. That means locked out of heaven, dude. But there is something depressing about this parable, but then I’m depressed about everything these days. The second parable about the end times is in 25:14-30 and it tells about a rich man who gives his servants 5, 2 and 1 talent while he is gone on a trip. The first 2 invest the talents and have twice the talents when the master comes home. They were preparing for the end much better than the third who buried his talent in the ground. In 24:11-14 the ‘end times’ are described as follows: “Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come.” Many people in China are converting. They meet in house churches. They even have seminaries. They are very brave because they get raided so they have to hide all the religious objects. If they are arrested, they face long sentences in prison camps. I read recently that the US has more people in prison than China and Russia combined. It’s I suppose mostly black men on rinky-dink drug charges or other victimless crimes. There are Muslims converting also, but they are staying in the closet, afraid for their lives. South Americans are going Pentecostal in droves. The Catholic church has been working with the poor–liberation theology–but it is corrupt, also. I should get back on task. In these verses 11-14 “false prophets” are Christians who have probably joined a heretical sect. Because of the apocalyptic nature of much of this discourse on the ‘end times,’ the literal meaning of this description of the church should not be stressed too hard (CSB). However, there is reason to believe that these verses reflect the condition of Matthew’s community………………………………… 25:1-13, Then the kingdom of heaven will be like 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bride groom. The 5 foolish virgins had no extra oil and, when the bridegroom arrived at midnight, they had to go buy more oil. When they went back, the door was locked. The foolish virgins said, “Lord, Lord, Open the door for us!” But he said in reply, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.” “Therefore,” said Jesus “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” The oil in this parable represents good deeds and the lack of good deeds. Once again, the Christian is confused about what he needs be saved–faith in Jesus or good deeds. The word ‘Then’ in the first line refers to the parousia, when Jesus returns in glory. Scholars say the command ‘stay awake’ may merely mean be prepared since both wise and foolish virgins fell asleep……… 26:63-64, Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the Living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’ ” This conversation with the high priest is peculiar to Matthew. Jesus is going to be crucified, but he will return in clouds of glory. (Note: This was a perfect opportunity for Jesus to admit he was the Messiah, but he didn’t take it. Would it interfere with his plan to be crucified? Were there legal problems? Would the Jews try to revolt and create a throne for him?…………………………………………… 28:18, Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me.” The Greek word translated ‘power’ is that found in the Greek translation of Daniel 7:13-14, where one ‘like a son of man is given power over an everlasting kingdom by God. And the Risen Jesus claims universal power.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s