Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, He never spoke to them without using such parables (Matthew 13:34).
Check out John 12:23-24 and note that the ultimate “twist” to Jesus’ kingdom story was that heaven couldn’t come to earth without His death and resurrection.
Start reading through the Gospels to see just how often Jesus emphasized that His heavenly kingdom was coming to earth. What are you doing to build Jesus’ kingdom?
Parables. Jesus told a ton of them: The parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-23), the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32), the hidden treasure in the field (Matthew 13:44-46), the vineyard workers (Matthew 20:1-16), the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), and so on.
But why did Jesus tell so many parables? Matthew tells us that parables were Jesus’ primary method of explaining to the masses what His kingdom was all about (Matthew 13:34). In His kingdom, God’s generosity leads Him to treat everyone equally (Matthew 20:1-16). Faithful stewardship is commended (Matthew 25:14-30). People across the world have a place in His kingdom (Luke 13:29). The humble are exalted (Luke 18:14).
Jesus’ short stories were also packed full of clues as to how the kingdom of heaven can manifest itself here on earth. Jesus hinted that His kingdom can come to earth from even the smallest of things (the mustard seed). It’s displayed when compassion is shown to people far different from us (the good Samaritan). Heaven breaks through to earth when forgiveness and restoration is extended to any sinner who repents (the lost son).
Those who took the time to listen to and wrestle with what Jesus was saying were able to see ancient, kingdom secrets that had been “hidden since the creation of the world” (Matthew 13:35). They were able to understand that He was establishing a revolutionary way of life that they could plug into as both beneficiaries and ambassadors.
Sadly, not everyone who heard Jesus listened. The religious establishment dismissed the clues because they didn’t fit into their nationalistic agenda. Still, many did listen—Jews and Gentiles alike—and it transformed their lives.
As we read the story of Jesus today, let’s pick up His clues and be about building His kingdom.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 10:1-15