God’s Kingdom First

Seek first God’s kingdom…
Jesus (Matt 6:33)

Recalling of the events of Holy Week requires eight of Matthew’s twenty eight chapters. Four and a half (Luke 21 -25) of those eight chapters cover the events of Tuesday, Day Three.

As a Jewish Rabbi, Jesus was expected to teach about God’s Kingdom. His Tuesday discourses comprise the most extensive of his teaching on the Kingdom. He had come to Jerusalem so he taught the people. His teaching was so counter cultural to the common understanding of the Kingdom of God that he kick-up intense opposition.

He taught:

  • The king gave a wedding banquet. Many of those invited did not come and one guest arrived without wedding clothes. The king revised the guest list to omit those who refused to come or came improperly dressed.
    “Many are invited, but few are chosen,” Jesus tells them.
  • God’s kingdom has only two laws.
    # 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength.
    # 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
    All the Jewish law and the teaching of the prophets could be summarized in these two commands.
  • God’s kingdom operated by a different rubric.
    The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
    (Matt 23:11, 12)
  • Citizens of the God’s kingdom treat the stranger with consideration and kindness.
    Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matt. 25:34-36)

Jesus describes God’s kingdom as a place where appearance and accomplishment does not earn acceptance. He openly rebukes the Jewish leaders and teachers of the law he saw as blind guides, hypocrites, and snakes. The Jewish leaders question Jesus’ authority, inflaming their altercation with him from “they looked for a way to arrest him,” in Matthew 21 to “they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him,” in chapter 26 as Day Three ended.

St. Paul would later say to the church of Jesus Christ, Be very careful then, how you live…(Eph. 5:15) Though the invitation to participate in the Kingdom of God is open to all, be careful how you treat it. In our consideration of God’s Kingdom, Jesus defines for us the Kingdom culture: take God’s invitation seriously; love God, love your neighbor; humble yourself and be a servant; treat others with consideration and kindness so that you will receive the inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you.

As we follow Jesus through this final week of his earthly life, Seek first God’s kingdom…

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