Kingdom Parables

Jesus taught several parables about the kingdom of God, its unexpected ways of expansion, and its status in the world - Mark 4:21-34 .  The Gospel of Mark provides only a few examples of the many parables taught by Jesus, his primary method of teaching - (“ Apart from a parable he did not speak to the crowds ”). While they cover several topics, in Mark , the overarching theme is the “ Kingdom of God ,” the reign of God that commenced in the ministry of Jesus and continues as the gospel is preached - [ Wheat Harvest photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash ].

Lamb of Israel

Jesus is the “slain Lamb,” the true Messiah of Israel sent by God to redeem humanity and “shepherd” the nations .  The Book of Revelation is addressed to the “ churches of Asia ” and begins with salutations from God, the “ seven spirits that are before His throne ,” and especially from Jesus Christ, the “ faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth .” These labels not only establish his royal “credentials,” but point to how he obtained sovereignty over the earth - [ Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash ].

Christianity's Forgotten Hope

Central to the hope of the early church was the bodily resurrection of the dead at the return of Jesus .  Biblical Christianity is a forward-looking faith, and integral to its doctrine of salvation is the future resurrection of the dead, which also will mean the commencement of the New Creation. And in the New Testament, this hope is linked to two events: the past resurrection of Jesus and his future return at the end of the age. And salvation remains incomplete without it - [ Photo by Manuel Rheinschmidt on Unsplash ].

Three Woes

An eagle "flying in mid-heaven" announces the last three trumpets, the "three woes"  – Revelation 8:13 .  The first four trumpets have sounded. Next, an “ eagle flying in mid-heaven ” announces the final three but calls them “ woes .” Unlike the first four, the plagues unleashed by the last three trumpets afflict the “ inhabitants of the earth ” themselves, whereas the first four damaged the infrastructure on which human society depends – agriculture, commerce, freshwater supplies, and light - [ Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash ].

Afflicted Disciples

In this life, the disciple of Jesus will endure “tribulation” and persecution for his sake   –   1 Thessalonians 3:1-4 .  Our tendency is to avoid trouble and conflict. Understandably, we prefer to live lives characterized by peace, acceptance, and prosperity, and devoid of all affliction and persecution. And the New Testament does promise believers peace now and everlasting life later. Yet it also teaches us to expect afflictions in this life, and how to react when they do occur - [ Photo by Martin Vysoudil on Unsplash ].

Missionary People

From the start, Jesus commissioned his people to proclaim the good news of the kingdom “to the uttermost parts of the earth” - until he comes .  The message proclaimed by Jesus is summarized as the “ Good News of the Kingdom of God .”  In him , the final reign of God over all things is being implemented, a process that will consummate at his “ arrival ” in glory with the establishment of God’s absolute sovereignty and the defeat of all His enemies, including death. Before his ascension, he assigned this task to his church - [ Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash ].