The Constitution of the Kingdom & the Bill of Entrance

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first thirty verses of the thirteenth chapter. As you come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew you will again find Jesus the Christ engaged in ministry among the crowds and multitudes. Thus far within the gospel narrative written by Matthew there has been very few times when He was not entirely and altogether surrounded by great crowds and great multitudes. The more you read this gospel account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ the more you will be brought face to face with the truly awesome and astonishing reality that Jesus spent a great deal among the crowds. We are first introduced to the crowds and great multitude which followed Jesus in the fourth chapter when we read how Jesus taught in their synagogues, preached the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and healed all manner of sickness and disease. As a direct result of these three elements—teaching, preaching and healing—great multitudes and crowds of people from Judaea, from Galilee, from Syria, from Jerusalem and from the Decapolis would begin to follow Jesus. It would essentially be that wherever Jesus would go there would be two distinct groups of people who would both walk with and follow Him. On the one hand you would find those twelve disciples whom He had called and chosen to walk with and follow Him, while on the other hand you will find the crowds and multitudes which would surround Jesus wherever He went. There were very few places Jesus would travel and journey where His presence would not draw crowds of people which would gather themselves unto and around Him. What’s more, is that the more Jesus’ fame spread within and throughout the region the more the crowds and multitude would grow and congregate before and around Him. The gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew would express and bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that Jesus spent a considerable amount of time moving among the crowds and multitudes of people who would gather themselves before and all around Him.

            While in the fourth chapter we are first introduced to the crowds and multitudes we find in the thirteenth chapter that Jesus was still attracting great crowds and multitudes of people who would walk with and follow Him. JESUS IS STILL ATTRACTING CROWDS! JESUS IS STILL DRAWING THE MULTITUDES! CROWDS CONTINUE TO FOLLOW JESUS WHEREVER HE WENT! CROWDS CONTINUED TO WALK WITH JESUS WHERE HE WENT! As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the book of Matthew I can’t help but be absolutely drawn to and captivated by the fact that here we are in this chapter—nine chapters after the first mention of the crowds and multitudes—and Jesus is still attracting great crowds and multitudes of people. Jesus was still healing all manner of sickness, healing all manner of disease, causing the blind to see, causing the deaf to hear, causing the lame to walk, causing unclean spirits to be cast out, and causing the dead to rise to life again. In fact, when you read the latter portion of the twelfth chapter of this gospel narrative you will find another mention of great crowds and multitudes following Jesus, and how Jesus healed them all. Pause for a moment and think about this for a moment—not only that a large crowd and multitude of people gathered themselves unto and around Jesus, but also that Jesus healed them all. What’s more, is that as see in the gospels there were two distinct times within the public life and ministry of Jesus when the great crowd and multitude which was before and all around  Him would be hungry. Not wanting them to perish and faint of hunger along the way Jesus would have the disciples seat the crowds on the ground in various groups and would then bless and break bread and fish to be divided among the people. What we find within these two accounts is that on both accounts Jesus fed the crowd and multitude which was before Him. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus feed the crowd which was before Him, but He filled them to the full, and still had baskets of fragments left over after.

            JESUS HEALED THEM ALL! JESUS FED THEM ALL! I sit here today thinking about and considering just h9ow absolutely remarkable and astonishing the words are within this gospel narrative, and how we are presented with a powerful picture of a Jesus who would not only heal all those who would come unto Him, but Jesus also fed all those who had come unto Him. On two separate occasions we find Jesus feeding two great crowds and multitudes which had gathered themselves unto Him, and had spent a considerable amount of time. There was one time when the crowd which had gathered itself unto Jesus numbered five thousand men—not including women and children. There was another time when the crowd which had gathered itself unto Jesus numbered four thousand men, which also did not include women and children. Pause for a moment and think about this particular reality, for there were at least two accounts of the crowds and multitudes which had gathered themselves unto and around Jesus numbered at least four thousand men without even considering the women and the children. There were at least two different times when the crowd and multitude which was gathered unto Jesus would be numbered in the thousands, and it causes me to think about and consider how many other times the crowd and multitude which gathered around and unto Jesus numbered in the thousands. We know that there were at least two times within the gospel narratives when the crowds which gathered themselves unto Jesus numbered at least four thousand with one time the crowd numbering five thousand. When we read of how great multitudes gathered themselves together before and unto Jesus in the opening verse of the thirteenth chapter I can’t help but wonder how many men and women there truly were before and all around Him. We know that the crowd must have been incredibly large, for what we find within this passage of Scripture is that the crowd was so great and pressed so close unto Him that He went into a ship and sat. While Jesus sat in the ship the crowd stood on the shore and listened attentively to Him as He would begin opening His mouth and teaching them.

            Upon reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture I am finding myself being absolutely and completely captivated with and by the fact that even now on this particular day and at this particular time within the public life and ministry of Jesus we still find Him drawing great crowds and multitudes of people. Perhaps one of the greatest truths and realities that surrounds the gospel narratives which are found within the Scripture is how Jesus always drew great crowds and multitudes unto Himself. You cannot read the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus continually and regularly drew large crowds of men and women unto Him. Time and time again within this gospel narrative you will find great crowds and multitudes of people gathering themselves unto Jesus that they might not only hear that which He would speak unto them, but also that they might receive healing within their physical bodies. One of the most common themes found within this gospel narrative is the absolutely incredible and powerful picture that Jesus continually and regularly drew crowds of men and women unto Himself, and that men and women would travel great distances to hear Him speak and to witness the works which He would do. Not only this, but we also know that there were times within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when it specifically references the crowds and multitudes of men and women remaining and abiding with Him for days on end. This is perhaps what is so incredibly vital to realize and recognize when thinking about and considering the words which are found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for there were two distinct times when the great crowds and multitudes would remain and abide with Jesus as He would not only heal them, but would also teach and speak unto and among them.

            If there is one thing I truly and absolutely love when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture it’s that Jesus was still drawing crowds  of people unto Himself. We know that Jesus declared unto Nicodemus that if He be lifted up He would draw all men unto Himself, however, that which we are witnessing and beholding within these passages of Scripture is an incredibly profound picture of Jesus continuing to draw crowds of men and women unto Himself. What makes this even more remarkable and astounding is that in the nation of Israel right now there are nine million one hundred and eighty seven thousand people living within its borders. The reason I can’t help but think about is of the great crowds and multitudes which gathered themselves unto the Lord Jesus Christ—how many of those men and women were new individuals who would hear and witness Jesus speak and work for the first time. We regularly and consistently read within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that great multitudes of people gathered themselves unto Jesus, and I can’t help but wonder how many times these multitudes contained those who had perhaps never heard or seen Jesus before. We know that this reality must indeed be so, for the gospels themselves present and reveal unto us different encounters when men and women would be brought unto Jesus, would come unto Jesus themselves, or would encounter Jesus as He passed by—and would do so for the first time. Essentially what we would reference this is in our modern context is “first time visitors.” Oh when I think about the great multitudes of men and women who would gather themselves before, around and unto the Lord Jesus Christ, I can’t help but wonder how many “first time visitors” there were who would come unto Him for the very first time. Having heard of His fame and having heard of that which He had wrought and performed among men there would be those who would come unto Jesus for the very first time to both hear the words which He would teach and speak, as well as to witness and behold the works which He would perform among them. What’s more, is that there would be those who would come unto Jesus for the first time who would themselves never have experienced healing, freedom and deliverance from Him within their own hearts and lives, and yet they would experience and encounter it when they entered into the presence of Jesus for the very first time.

            FIRST TIME VISITORS! SAME JESUS—NEW CROWDS! SAME JESUS—NEW MULTITUDES! SAME JESUS, SAME NEEDS—NEW CROWDS AND MULTITUDES! This concept of first time visitors—or at least what we would consider as first time visitors—is actually quite remarkable and astonishing when you think about and consider how frequently and how often Scripture records Jesus as being present within and among the multitudes. What’s more, is that when you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture—not only do you read that there were multitudes which gathered together unto Jesus, but there were great multitudes which gathered themselves unto and among Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and astonishing this truly is, for Scripture seems to clearly indicate that these weren’t small crowds which had gathered themselves unto Jesus, but rather that they were large crowds which would gather themselves before and unto Jesus. Oh I find it truly worth thinking about and considering when reading the words which are found within this passage how among all those who were in Judaea, all those who were in Galilee, all those who were in Jerusalem, all those who were in Syria, all those who were in Tyre and Sidon, all those who were in the Decaoplis, and all those who were present within the surrounding regions would have had a number of men and women who had come unto Jesus. Think about the fact that right now there are just north of nine million men, women and children living in the nation of Israel, and think about Jesus being present among them over a space of three and a half years. Think about how many men and women within this nation would gather themselves unto Jesus, and how great and how large those crowds would and could be. Think about what it would be like for the Lord Jesus Christ to be present in what is modern day Israel and worked the same works and taught the same words today which He had taught them. Imagine how many of the nine million men, women and children within the nation would have gathered themselves unto Jesus at any given point in time during those three and a half years.

            I am sitting here right now thinking about how if you took the total population of the nation of Israel right now and divided it by the minimum number of recorded souls which were present at the second feeding of the great multitude you would come to just under two thousand three hundred different encounters. If you take the total population of nine million one hundred and eighty seven thousand souls within the nation of Israel and divide it be a minimum of four thousand being present before and around Jesus at the time He fed them you will come to two thousand two hundred and ninety six. Pause for a moment and think about how tremendous that number truly is, for that number would speak of just shy of twenty three hundred different encounters over a three and a half year period of time. Stop and think about just how absolutely incredible that would have been and what those sights would have been like as Jesus was entirely and altogether surrounded by great crowds and multitudes of people. Think about what life for Jesus and the disciples would have been like if He was surrounded by four thousand men at a single time—all who had their own individual needs. Stop and think about what it would have been like—not only for four thousand individuals to be present before and around you, but also those four thousand individuals each having their own need, desiring of you to receive and experience healing, and perhaps even being hungry and desiring food. Think about what it would have been like to be one single man who was surrounded by four thousand men and women two thousand three hundred times over a three and a half year period of time, and how it was very possible that of those great crowds and multitudes there would have been entirely new individuals who had never witnessed, experienced and beheld Jesus before within their lives. Imagine what it would be like to be one of four thousand men and women to gather yourself together unto Jesus with great crowds and multitudes of people, and how there were times when Scripture records how Jesus healed them all. Stop for a moment and think about what that day would have been like for Jesus as there were undoubtedly times when Jesus would heal thousands of people in a single day. How incredible mind blowing and mind boggling it truly is to think about Jesus being one man healing thousands of men and women—each with their own needs. Think about how many blinded eyes Jesus opened, and how many deaf ears Jesus would open during those three and a half years. Think about how many unclean spirits Jesus would cast out and how many men and women Jesus would deliver and set free from the bondage of unclean and foul spirits. Moreover, think about how many lepers Jesus cleansed during those times—especially when you consider there was at least once in Scripture when Jesus healed ten lepers at one time.

            It is truly something incredible to think about how many different times Jesus could have been surrounded by great multitudes and great crowds, and how even we know that there were certain times and certain locations when Jesus could do no miracles because of their unbelief. Scripture records how within His own hometown of Nazareth Jesus could do no great works among them because of their unbelief. There were times within the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when He could not do many miracles because of the unbelief and hardness of heart that was found present among those where He was abiding and dwelling. Even if you take half of the total population of the nation of Israel and cut it in half you will find the total number being just shy of four million six hundred thousand as it would come out to four million five hundred and ninety three thousand. Even if you divide that number by four thousand souls in a single multitude and crowd you will come to one thousand one hundred and forty eight different encounters. Stop and think about what it would have been like to be surrounded and pressed by thousands of men and women just north of eleven hundred times. Take the weight and magnitude of that reality and consider what those three and a half years would have been like for the Lord Jesus Christ as He would continually and regularly be surround by crowds. When the apostle Matthew writes and records how great crowds and multitudes gathered themselves around Jesus the Christ—even if the numbers weren’t as high as the four thousand we saw once, and the five thousand we saw once—we must nonetheless assume that the crowds and multitudes which gathered themselves before and unto Jesus would have been incredibly large and incredibly demanding of Jesus’ time and attention.

            I just ran a search on my iPhone and asked Siri what the population of Israel was during the days of Jesus, and two of the websites I searched estimated the population during Jesus’ day to be between five hundred and to six hundred thousand. If you take six hundred thousand and divide it by four thousand you will get a total of one hundred and fifty, which would be quite the number of encounters Jesus had over the course of a three and a half year period of time. Even if you cut that number in half and assume that half the population of Palestine during the days of Jesus might have come unto Jesus and did the same math of four thousand people you will come to a total of three hundred encounters. Scripture is unclear how large all the great multitudes which came unto Jesus were during those three and a half years other than that crowd of five thousand which He fed, as well as the crowd of four thousand which He also fed. What we must also realize is that this number of six hundred thousand might not have included those who would come from the surrounding regions to come unto Jesus, and yet it still lends to the incredible reality of just how large and how massive these crowds truly were when they would gather themselves unto Jesus. Not only this, but I can’t help but think about how many people Jesus healed for the first time, and how many times Jesus was surrounded by great multitudes, and yet He healed them all. We know that when the multitude swelled to four thousand Jesus fed them all, and we even know that when the multitude swelled to five thousand Jesus fed them all. What’s more, is that within the gospel narratives we know from these narratives that those who were part of and made up the great crowd of five thousand and the great crowd of four thousand were with Jesus for a period of a couple of days. During those days and during that time with Jesus He would not only teach them, but He would also heal them of their sicknesses and diseases. What a truly astonishing revelation it is to think about just how large these crowds would and could have been during the days and times of Jesus, and how many times Jesus would see and experience someone entirely new who hadn’t come unto Him before and yet would come unto Him for the first time. Think about how many eyes He opened for the first time, and how many ears He opened for the first time, and how many lepers He cleansed for the first time, and even how many men and women He delivered and set free from demonic oppression of unclean and foul spirits.

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found within the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face with the fact that even though the twelfth chapter was filled and littered with tremendous opposition from the Pharisees we continue to find Jesus drawing large crowds unto Himself. When we think about this concept, however, we must needs recognize and understand is that Jesus never campaigned for crowds, nor did He even campaign for multitudes. The great multitudes and great crowds which would gather themselves unto Jesus would be drawn by the words which He spoke and taught unto them, as well as the works which He wrought and performed. I happen to find this absolutely and incredibly remarkable when you take the time to think about it, for when you read and study the narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ you will find that He never launched any campaigns, nor did He ever hold any tent meetings, nor did He ever hold any revivals. There was no social media, there was no media, there were no e-mails that were sent out, there were no flyers that were put up, nor any of the modern means we use to draw men and women unto those places where we would think they can experience the words and works of Christ as manifested through His servants. The single greatest means of the fame of Jesus Christ spreading—and not only the fame of Jesus spreading, but also what would essentially amount to an invitation to come unto Jesus—was word of mouth. Those whose lives were touched by the words which Jesus Christ spoke and taught—and not only those who were touched by the words which Jesus Christ spoke, but also those whose lives were touched by the works which Jesus wrought in the midst of the earth—would spread the news and report of what Jesus had done within their lives and for them. There were numerous times within the gospels when we read of the fame of Jesus spreading as men and women would experience the touch of God within their lives and would report that which had taken place within their lives within their cities, their towns and villages.

            This narrative found within the thirteenth chapter presents us once more with great crowds and multitudes being drawn unto Jesus, which is actually quite remarkable and astounding when you think about it, for aside from the scribes, the Pharisees and the religious leaders which were present within that generation we find great crowds and multitudes of people who were being drawn unto Jesus the Christ. Aside from the final week leading up to and before His crucifixion we find the crowds and multitudes of men and women being gathered together and drawn unto Jesus because of the words which He spoke and the works which He would perform. One thing I can’t help but wonder is how many men and women from within Galilee and Judaea were actually in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover when the crowd and multitude would be incensed against Jesus and would cry out for Him to be crucified. I don’t want to jump ahead of myself within the gospel narrative written by Matthew, however, it is quite interesting to think about and consider that pretty much throughout the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find the crowds and multitudes continuing to gather and continuing to be drawn unto the Lord Jesus. There were very few times within the gospel narratives when we can’t and don’t find great crowds and great multitudes being drawn unto Jesus, and what we find within this passage of Scripture is indeed a powerful picture of the crowds and multitudes once more being drawn unto the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s actually quite interesting when you read the words which are found within this chapter, however, for the words which are found in this passage aren’t really centered upon Jesus healing anyone, nor Jesus raising the dead to life, nor Jesus driving out unclean spirits and demons from within the hearts, minds, soul and spirits within men. This chapter once more finds a great multitude of people gathering themselves together unto Jesus, however—much like what we find in chapters five through seven—we find Jesus teaching the great crowd and multitude which gathered themselves unto Him.

            IS THERE ROOM FOR TEACHING? IS THERE ROOM FOR LEARNING? IS THERE ROOM FOR GROWTH? IS THERE ROOM FOR MATURITY? I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but think about the awesome and tremendous truth that while men and women did indeed and did in fact come unto the Lord Jesus Christ to receive healing within their physical bodies, and perhaps even to be delivered and set free from the demonic oppression within their lives, there was a great need for them to be taught. We saw in chapters five through seven a wonderful and powerful picture of Jesus teaching the crowds and multitudes when He delivered what is and has been commonly known as “the Sermon on the Mount.” What’s more, is that it is within that Sermon on the Mount we find at the very beginning what has been commonly known as “The Beatitudes.” When I think of the Sermon on the Mount I essentially think about the Constitution of the United States of America, and what the Constitution was to America, so the Sermon on the Mount was essentially “the constitution of the kingdom of heaven.” What’s more, is that just as the first set of laws that are found within the Constitution are known as “The Bill of Rights,” so also the opening remarks within the Sermon on the Mount could very well be known as “The Bill of Rights” for the kingdom of God and its citizens. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Beatitudes are not necessarily centered upon any rights we have within the kingdom of heaven, but rather that which serves as the foundation for and of the kingdom of heaven. While within the United States of America “The Bill of Rights” provides Americans with many rights which they cling and hold on so closely and tightly to—that which affords and offers them the inalienable freedoms and liberties we have within this country—we must needs realize and recognize that “The Beatitudes” are not necessarily about rights we have within the kingdom of heaven, but rather revelations on how we are to live our lives as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Before I get into what is found within the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the opening verses of the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew which is known as “The Beatitudes:”

            “And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:1-12).

            These words which are found in the opening verses of the fifth chapter call and draw our attention to the awesome and incredible portion found within “The Constitution of the kingdom of heaven” which although it is not known as “The bill of rights” can indeed be known as perhaps “the bill of humility” or “the bill of entrance.” In fact, I would more inclined to consider these words as “the bill of entrance,” for the very first beatitude would describe those to whom the kingdom of heaven belonged. What’s more, is that the very last beatitude would once more describe those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs and would be given—namely, those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake. It’s quite remarkable and astounding when you think about and consider the words which are found within the opening verses of the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative which is found in the book which the apostle Matthew wrote, for twice within these beatitudes we find Jesus speaking of those to whom belongs, and those to whom would be given the kingdom of heaven. Taking this a step further is something that is actually quite astonishing when you think about the kingdom of heaven, for what we find within this passage of Scripture is Jesus actually speaking about the earth—and not only speaking about the earth, but those who would inherit the earth. Twice within this passage Jesus would speak about those to whom the kingdom of heaven would belong, and yet once within this passage Jesus would speak about those who would inherit the earth. It is this concept of inheriting the earth which I am absolutely and completely convinced directly applies to what we find in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew.

            I find it incredibly unique when reading the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that twice within the Sermon on the Mount—and not only twice within the sermon, but also twice within the opening statements of the sermon—Jesus speaks of the kingdom of heaven and those to whom the kingdom of heaven belonged. In the fourth chapter of this gospel we find Jesus preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven was near, and yet here in the fifth chapter we find Jesus speaking of those to whom the kingdom of heaven would be given, and those to whom the kingdom of heaven would be given. What adds even more weight and meaning to this is when you consider the apparent and intrinsic link between the kingdom of heaven and the earth, for not only would Jesus speak of those to whom the kingdom of heaven belonged, but He would also speak about those who would inherit the earth. It’s interesting to think and consider that nowhere within this Sermon on the Mount did Jesus ever state and declare that the poor in spirit and those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake would inherit the kingdom of heaven. What Jesus instead stated and declared was that unto the poor in spirit would be manifested the kingdom of heaven, and unto those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake would be the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven would be directly and intrinsically linked to being poor in spirit and being persecuted, and inheriting the earth would be linked and connected to meekness. In fact, this would be directly linked to words which David himself would write in the thirty-seventh chapter of the book of Psalms, for it would be in this particular psalm David would write of those who would inherit the earth. In fact, there would be more than once within this particular psalm David would speak about those who would inherit the earth, and it would be this concept of inheriting the earth Jesus would build upon within the Sermon on the Mount. Not only this, but we must recognize and understand this intrinsic link when we think about the words which Jesus taught His disciples to pray, for He taught them to praying concerning the kingdom of the Father coming, and the will of God being done in the earth as it is in heaven. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the words which are found in the thirty-seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms:

            “For evildoers shall be cut off: But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth” (Psalm 37:9).

            “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:10).

            “For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:22).

            “The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever” (Psalm 37:29).

            “Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land” (Psalm 37:34).

            Oh I find it truly remarkable and astonishing to read the words which are found within the thirty-seventh chapter of the Old Testament poetic book of the Psalms, for within this chapter we find David speaking of those who will inherit the earth, as well as those who will inherit the land. It is important that we recognize and understand the words which David spoke within this psalm, for the words which he spoke would be referenced by Jesus when He declared that the meek would inherit the earth. It would be David who would first declare that the meek would inherit the earth, and those words would be built upon even more by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. What’s more, is that not only would these words be built upon by Jesus, but Jesus would link together the kingdom of heaven with the earth. Within the Sermon on the Mount Jesus declared that the meek would inherit the earth, but He also declared that the poor in spirit and those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake would be given the kingdom of heaven. It’s interesting to read the words which are found within the Sermon on the Mount, for twice within “The Beatitudes” we find Jesus speaking of those to whom the kingdom of heaven would be given, while shortly thereafter we find Jesus declaring that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees we would in no wise entering the kingdom of heaven. When teaching the disciples to pray Jesus would again reference and speak of the kingdom of heaven, however, Jesus would speak of it as the kingdom belonging to the Father. Jesus would teach His disciples to pray asking and entreating the Lord that His kingdom would come—and not only that His kingdom would come, but also that His will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. Moreover, towards the end of the sixth chapter we find Jesus instructing His disciples and followers to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things which the Father knows we have need of will be added unto us. Oh that we would recognize and understand Jesus’ words concerning the kingdom of heaven as found within the Sermon on the Mount, for within the Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus instructing to ask the Father that His kingdom would come, we find Jesus instructing us seek first the kingdom of heaven, and we find Jesus declaring that unto the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness’ sake would be given the kingdom of heaven. Not only this, but Jesus would also declare that unless our righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees we would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.

            The reason it is so absolutely critical and necessary we understand Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount concerning the kingdom of heaven, as well as what He spoke about concerning inheriting the earth is that when you come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle Matthew you will find Him transitioning to that point within the ministry of Jesus when He would continue teaching the crowds and multitudes, however, He would begin teaching them in parables. It is as you come to the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew that you will find Jesus once more teaching and speaking unto the crowds and multitudes. It would be at this particular point within the public life and ministry of Jesus we find Him speaking concerning the kingdom of heaven, however, Jesus would speak of the kingdom of heaven in parables. We must needs recognize and understand that Jesus would indeed and would in fact speak of the kingdom of heaven, however, He would speak of the kingdom of heaven and use parables to do so. Before we even delve into the words which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven we must needs realize that when He spoke of the kingdom of heaven, He wasn’t speaking of this foreign reality and concept that was far out of reach and unattainable for those whom He would interact with. Think about it—why would Jesus declare that the meek would inherit the earth and speak concerning the kingdom of heaven if the two weren’t intrinsically related? Why would Jesus instruct His disciples and followers to pray before and unto the Father asking for His kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth as it was in heaven? Why would Jesus instruct His disciples and followers to seek first the kingdom of heaven—and to do so within the earth—if the kingdom of heaven wasn’t something that would indeed and would in fact be manifested and experienced within the earth.

            When we seek to understand the words which are found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we must needs realize and understand that the words which are found and contained therein—specifically those which are found in the thirteenth chapter—describe and speak to the kingdom of heaven as being something that would be manifested and experienced within the earth. When Jesus spoke of those who would inherit the earth He knew full well and understood that this inheriting the earth would be intrinsically linked and connected to the kingdom of heaven being manifested within the earth. There would be no need, no reason and no purpose for inheriting the earth if the kingdom of heaven was not directly manifested within and upon it. With that being said, however, we must needs realize and understand that while we have been called to inherit the earth through our meekness—that inheriting of the earth cannot, must not and should not be independent the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. In all reality, the words which we find in the thirteenth chapter—and not just the thirteenth chapter, but also in the various other chapters which are found within the gospel narratives—are not necessarily a picture of the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven as something which is experienced in heaven, but rather something that is manifested within and upon the earth. When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God—He did not speak of it in terms of that which was solely experienced absent and removed from the earth. Far too many times we think and consider the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven as being that which is manifested in heaven itself, and has absolutely no connection to the earth. The truth of the matter is that the very first words Jesus declared and preached after emerging from the wilderness was that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. How could Jesus declare that the kingdom of heaven was at hand if it was something that was abstract, something that was foreign, and something that was not intrinsically linked to the earth?

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that the parables which Jesus spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven are to be understood as descriptions concerning the kingdom of heaven which would indeed be manifested within and upon the earth. The words which Jesus spoke within the parables were intended on speaking and revealing truths concerning the kingdom of heaven, and revealing to those who had ears to hear that the kingdom of heaven was that which would be manifested within and upon the earth. When Jesus taught and spoke concerning the kingdom of heaven—even and especially when He spoke of them in parables—He was seeking to describe unto His disciples and followers that which the kingdom of heaven was like within and upon the earth. When Jesus spoke and referred to the kingdom of heaven as being like something which He would then speak about, He was not speaking about the kingdom of heaven as we think about it in terms of that which is foreign, removed from the earth, far off, and somehow distant. When Jesus spoke about the kingdom of heaven—even and especially in parables—Jesus would speak of the kingdom of heaven in direct connection to the earth. This link was first seen in “The Beatitudes” when Jesus spoke of the meek inheriting the earth and the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness’ sake being given the kingdom of heaven, as well as the kingdom of God and the Father coming within and upon the earth. Jesus not only instructed His disciples and followers to seek first the kingdom of God, but He also instructed them to pray before and unto the Father asking Him to cause His kingdom to come in the midst of the earth. If we are going to truly understand the words which are found within the portion of Scripture that is contained within the thirteenth chapter we must needs realize and understand that the kingdom of heaven was something which Jesus taught and spoke of as being directly linked and connected to the earth as something that would be established in the midst of the earth, and something that would and could be inherited in the midst of the earth.

            THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN CAN BE EXPERIENCED HERE WITHIN THE EARTH! THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN CAN BE EXPERIENCED HERE UPON THE EARTH! THE FIRST DECLARATION AND TRUTH CONCERNING THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO THE TYPES OF HEARTS WHICH WERE FOUND WITHIN THOSE WHO WALKED WITH AND FOLLOWED JESUS! THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN WAS FIRST INTRODUCED WITHIN THE PARABLES AS BEING DIRECTLY LINKED AND CONNECTED TO THE SOWING OF THE WORD OF GOD WITHIN THE HEARTS OF MEN—AND NOT ONLY THE TYPES OF HEARTS WHICH THAT WORD WAS SOWN INTO, BUT ALSO THE RESULT OF THE WORD WITHIN THOSE HEARTS! The more you read the words which are found within the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—specifically the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter—you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that when Jesus began speaking of the kingdom of heaven through parables, He would begin with describing different types of hearts which were present within the crowds and multitudes that walked with and followed Him. Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is centered around and upon this first and opening parable is that it shines a tremendous light on to condition of the crowds and multitudes which were present within and among the crowds and multitudes which walked with and followed Jesus. We would like to think that when we read that which the gospel authors—specifically the apostle Matthew—concerning the great multitudes which walked with and followed the Lord Jesus, all those hearts were sincere which would walk with and follow Jesus. We would like to think that all those who were apart of and joined the great crowds and multitudes which walked with and followed Jesus were and would be faithful hearers and doers of the word which they heard preached unto them by and taught from the lips of Christ. The truth of the matter, however, is that when we read the words which are found within these particular verses we find that not everyone’s experience was the same regarding those who walked with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we must needs realize and recognize when we think about and consider the narrative concerning the great multitudes and crowds which walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we truly understand and recognize this particular reality, for we would be incredibly naïve to think about and consider how each and every one who walked with and followed Jesus were and would be faithful followers.

            This particular reality is introduced first within Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount when Jesus began speaking and teaching His disciples concerning their righteousness, and how unless their righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees, they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. What’s more, is that when we read the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find that Jesus would go on to emphatically declare how many would come to Him in that day, saying, “Lord, Lord,” and yet Jesus would turn to them and declare, “Depart from me ye worker of iniquity; I never knew you.” What makes these words so incredibly unique and powerful is when you think about and consider some of the boasts which would be made by those who would come unto Jesus in that day—namely, those who would profess prophesying in His name, those who would prophesy how they cast out demons in His name, and those who would profess the many great and wonderful things they did in the name of Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this thought truly is, for it draws and calls our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that there would even be those who would profess “Lord, Lord” in that day, and yet would hear Jesus not only instruct them to depart from Him—those who were workers of iniquity—but would also hear Jesus declare how He never knew them. What adds even more weight and meaning to this particular reality is when you come to the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John—specifically those words which are found in the sixth chapter. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the sixth chapter of this gospel narrative concerning those who at one point walked with and followed Jesus, and yet would turn back and would walk no longer with Christ:

            “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. NO man came come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat mann, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it. When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:41-71).

            FROM THAT TIME MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES WENT BACK, AND WALKED NO MORE WITH HIM! It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for that which we find within this passage is a powerful picture of those disciples who would initially walk with and follow Jesus, and yet upon hearing the words which He spoke in Capernaum would go back and walk no more with Him. We must needs pay close and careful attention to that which is found here within this passage of Scripture, for that which we find here is a truly astonishing truth concerning what we find in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. In the opening portion of the chapter we find Jesus beginning to open His mouth and teach them in parables that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets. In the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter we indeed find the parable itself which Jesus spoke unto His disciples and those who would walk with and follow Him. Oh it is important for us to realize and recognize this, for the words which we find in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter bring us face to face with the parable of the seed and the one who sowed the seed. The parable will reveal how that one who sowed the seed would sow as they went, and yet how they sowed that seed it would be sown into and upon four different types of soil. As you read the words which are found within this opening text of the thirteenth chapter you will find how this one who sowed the seed would sow some along the wayside, how this one would sow some seed among the thorns, how this one would sow seed among the rocky ground, and how some seed would fall within and upon good soil. We would be incredibly wise to recognize and understand the words which are found within this parable, for upon initially hearing the words which are found within it we aren’t entirely given any understand or clue as to what Jesus’ words truly meant when He spoke of the seed, the one who sowed the seed, and the four different types of soil into and upon which the seed would be sown. It would be when Jesus’ disciples would ask Him concerning the meaning of the parable He would then speak unto them and reveal the meaning of the parable which He spoke concerning the seed, the one who sowed the seed, and the four different types of soil upon which the seed was sown.

            What makes this interesting is when you think about the fact that the one who sowed the seed sowed the seed in various different places, and that this parable was never about, nor was it ever a matter of that one sowing the seed in certain places while not sowing that seed in other places. That which this parable reveals and brings us face to face with is how this one sowed the seed in perhaps a vast and open place as he went, and yet how even though they sowed the seed in vast and perhaps wide open places—the seed which was sown would not find the same soil. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that although the seed would be sown in vast and wide open places—the seed which was sown would not fall onto and upon the same places. This doesn’t place the one who sowed the seed at blame or at fault, for that one who sowed the seed sowed it in wide open places as he went along. I would dare say this one who sowed the seed went about his way and sowed seed to his right and sowed seed to his left—perhaps even unaware of the different types of soil onto which the seed would be sown. As this one would sow the seed, however, the seed which they sowed would fall upon and find different types of soil. With this being said, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that it wasn’t that this one sowed a certain kind of seed in one place while sowing a different kind of seed in another place. This one who would sow the seed as he went would sow the same type of seed, and yet the fundamental difference found within this sowing of the seed is the soil upon which the seed had been sown. Not only this, but the type of soil upon which the seed had fallen would directly determine whether or not the seed would even bring forth fruit and a harvest in the midst of the earth. How incredibly astonishing and remarkable it is to think about and consider that the same seed could be sown in different places, and yet depending on where the seed was sown, and depending on what type of soil the seed had fallen on—there would either be no harvest, there would be a short-lived and partial harvest, or there would be a full harvest that would be in different measures. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the words which are found in this thirteenth chapter concerning Jesus’ interpretation of the parable:

            “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sowed. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word: and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23).

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that we must needs realize and understand the words which are found within this parable, for although the reality and truth surrounding this parable has been in effect within and throughout the years and generations since Jesus first taught and spoke it—these words ring incredibly true within and during the days in which we are living in. In all reality, I would dare say that the days in which we are presently living can and will reveal the different types of hearts—and not only the different types of hearts, but also the different types of disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ which are and have been present within our churches and church buildings. We would like to think that all those who are present among us within our church buildings and congregations are and will be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and will endure unto the end, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply is not the case. As you read the words which are found within this parable—as well as the interpretation of the parable—you will find that not everyone who professes to be a disciple of Jesus, and not everyone who walks with Jesus will endure and remain unto the end. This is precisely why I chose to incorporate the words which were found within the sixth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for the words which we find there reveal the tremendous reality that there would come a point in time when many of those who walked with and followed Jesus would turn back and no longer walk with Him. Upon reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that there were those—even those among us within our church buildings—who heard the word of the kingdom, and yet such individuals had no understanding within their hearts, within their minds, and within their spirits. As a direct result of this lack of understanding the enemy and adversary catches away, steals, and robs the word which was sown into their hearts and into their hearing, thus making them unfruitful and unprofitable. Oh dear reader it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that there are and there will be those among us who although they have heard the word concerning the kingdom of heaven have no understanding within their hearts and spirits. Because of their lack of understanding concerning the word of the kingdom the enemy is able to steal and rob that word which was sown into their hearts, and thus causing them to turn back, to walk away, and even to become unfruitful and unprofitable.

            Continuing on within this parable you will find how Jesus would go on to speak concerning those who received the word in stony places, and how such individuals were those who hear the word and receive it with joy. Despite, however, the fact that these individuals hear the word and receive it with joy—they have no root within themselves, and endure for a while. When tribulation or persecution arises for the sake of and because of the word, such individuals are offended and will most certainly turn back and choose no longer to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Please pay close and careful attention to this, for I am absolutely and completely convinced that this is going to be a tremendous manifestation and reality within this generation and within our culture and society, as there have been those who have heard the word, and those who have even heard the word with joy, and have endured for a while, yet have only endured because there has been no persecution nor tribulation that has arisen because of the word. The question I continue to find myself asking is how many of those who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—specifically and especially within this nation—can and will respond and react when tribulation and persecution begins to arise because of the word. We have been spoiled, we have been blessed, and we have been privileged to hear the word, to preach the word, to read the word, and to even worship and pray together freely with little resistance, and yet the truth of the matter is that we must needs ask ourselves how we can and how we will respond when tribulation and persecution arises because of and for the sake of the word. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced that if and when persecution and tribulation does indeed and does in fact arise among us because of and for the sake of the word—many who professed to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ can and will turn back and choose to walk no more with Christ. Oh dear Jesus, would you guard and protect our hearts and give us the courage and the commitment to be able to stand and withstand in the midst of tribulation and persecution when it arises among us for the sake of the word. Would you raise up men and women whose hearts will be steadfast, firm, committed, and devoted to you, and those who cannot and will not be swayed or persuaded by any persecution or tribulation that might arise because of the word within this nation. Would you raise up men and women who will not only hide your word in their heart that they might not sin against you, but would you raise up men and women who will hide the word within their hearts that they might be able to withstand and stand in and during those days when persecution and tribulation arises because of the word.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to this parable of the seed, the soil, and the one who sowed the seed, for at the very heart of the parable is not necessarily the soil, but also the result and product of the seed. When explaining the parable Jesus not only revealed that there would be those who would be offended because of the word when tribulation and persecution arises as a result of it, but Jesus also revealed that there would be others who will have the word choked out of their hearts because of and by the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world. IN all reality, there is a great need within our hearts and our lives to be those who will diligently guard ourselves from and against the deceitfulness of riches and from the cares of the world. What’s more, is that we must also be those who are committed and courageous enough to be able to stand and withstand in the midst of tribulation and persecution that will arise because of the word among us within our culture and society. There is a great need for us to not only be those whose hearts contain that good soil which Jesus spoke about, and those who brought forth fruit in abundance, but there is a great need for us to guard ourselves from the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world—that which Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount when He spoke about worrying about that which we would eat, that which we would drink, and that which we would wear. Moreover, we must be those who will stand firm, those who will be committed, those who will be devoted, those who will firmly and resolutely resolve within our hearts and our minds that we cannot and will not be offended as a direct result of tribulation and persecution that can and will rise up within our culture and society because of the word. We must be those within this generation who will firmly resolve and purpose within our hearts that no amount of tribulation and no amount of persecution can and will cause us to be as those mentioned within the gospel narrative written by the apostle John who went back and chose to no longer walk with the Lord Jesus Christ because of the words which He spoke. We have a great and present need within our hearts to recognize and understand the tremendous purpose and meaning behind these parables, for these parables not only call and draw our attention to the different types of heart that can and will be found among us within our culture and society, but it also draws and calls our attention to the very real and strong reality of what can and will be the case within the hearts and lives of many men and women in this culture and this society who might very well have endured thus far, and who might very well have professed to endure in the coming days, and yet who will turn back and choose no longer to walk with Christ.

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