The Kingdom of God

“People seek signs and miracles when they are not related enough to the Spirit.” (C.G. Jung)

The Sower by Vincent van Gogh

In your preparation for this study listen to theSanctus from St. Cecilia’s Mass by Charles Gounod https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgwm5ZuXWC8

PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM (Bible Hub, pg. 69)

https://biblehub.com/parallelgospels/The_First_Large_Group_of_Parables_to_the_Crowds_by_the_Sea_of_Galilee.htm

What do you understand by the phrase, ‘Kingdom of God’?

The phrase does not appear in other writings and it seems that it was not used by Jews at all, even though God was referred to as king.  It appears 91 times on the lips of Jesus in the synoptic gospels and 13 more times later, but then the use of the phrase seems to die out.

What do you make of this?

Here are some modern thoughts on the Kingdom:

Paul Tillich, 20th century theologian: 

  • The Kingdom of God can only be understood after one has delved most deeply into life and gone to the edges of reality.
  • It is the complete transparency of everything, such that the Divine shines through.
  • It embraces the destiny of  the life of the universe.

Gospel of Thomas:

  • The Kingdom of God is internal and external. If you know yourself, you will be known.
  • When you make the two as one – inner/outer, male/female, above/below – then you shall enter the Kingdom of God.

Elizabeth Howes: “All characteristics of the Kingdom of God in the outer world have counterparts in the individual psyche.”

Try to get into the shoes of a 1st century Jew. What do they expect?

What are their questions? 

In Mt.13:9 (and parallels), Mk. 4:23 and Mt. 13:43, we read, “He who has ears, let him hear.” What does this repeated theme imply?

How does this help you judge the content?

Looking at this section in the Bible Hub parallels, note how many times you see “The Kingdom… is like…” 

What is a parable?

In Mk.4:10-12 and parallels, why does Jesus say he speaks in parables?

Why might Jesus not want people to understand?

If Jesus does not want understanding, do you think he would go on to explain a parable as in Mt.13:18-23; 37-43 and 49-50 (and parallels)?

So, skipping these explanations, jump from Mk.4:12 to vv. 21-22.  What is Jesus saying here?

Let’s look at the first parable in Mk.4:3-8 and parallels.

What is the point Jesus is making?

Where are the places the seed can fall?

What happens in each?

Which of the first three options is most dangerous for you? (write)

Where in your body do you feel it?  Put your hand on it.

Where is the fertile ground in you?

What are the thorns in you; the things that crowd out the young seedlings? 

What are your questions about the Kingdom?

What does this parable suggest about the Kingdom?

In Mk.4:26-29, what is the main point of the parable within its own imagery? 

Where is the seed sown?

What does that feel like in you? 

What point is Jesus making about the Kingdom?

What would be the most radical element for a Jew of the day?

Continuing with vv. 30-32, what is the main point within its own imagery?

What point is Jesus making about the Kingdom?

How does this contrast with Jewish expectations?

Now to Mt.13:33

What is the main point within its own imagery?

What point is Jesus making about the Kingdom?

How does this contrast with Jewish expectations?

What does this mean socially? 

What does this mean personally?

What would it mean for your growth if you knew this ‘leaven’ was in you?

What is the common source of all three parables?

Taken overall, what is Jesus saying to the people? Note: none of these parables is in the future tense.

Are there any references to who or what will initiate the Kingdom?

With what colours would you describe this kingdom?

Close your eyes now and make a gesture that describes it.

Does it grow in us or do we enter it?

What do the parables say about the nature of God?

Look at Mt.13:24-30. What is the main point in its own imagery?

What is the main point to the audience?

Is the last part of v. 30 (after “…until the harvest)  part of this parable?

Who does it remind you of?

In Mt.13:44-46, what is the central point Jesus is trying to make in these?

What is the most radical thing for the Jews of the day?

How are these two parables similar?

How are these two parables different?  

What does “in his joy” add to the quality of the treasure in v. 44?

Is selling ‘all’ a sacrifice?

What is Jesus bringing to the understanding of the Kingdom using the treasure motif?

Where are these treasures found?

What does this add?

What does one have to do to get the treasure?

What is ‘all’?

What does it mean to ‘sell’? 

To whom does one sell it?

What does this process imply about the nature of God?

Is selling all a one time transaction?

If you sell all, what is your relationship to it?

Write: Rephrase ‘sell all’ in a way that you can understand what is required of you.

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