Jesus gave more importance to teaching rather than in doing miracles. The subject of His teaching was the Kingdom of God. Even after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples “over a period of forty days and spoke about the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). The resurrected Jesus did not change the subject of His teaching. This highlights the importance of the topic.
The Lone Worthy King
At Jesus’ birth, a special star proclaimed Him as the ‘born King of the Jews’. During His ministry, people realized His unique worthiness as the ideal King and they wanted to have Him as their king (John 6:15). The main charge His opponents laid against Him was that He claimed to be the king. During the trial, Pilate asked Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered “Yes, it is as you say” (Matt.27:11). Even on the cross, hung the inscription: “Jesus of Nazareth’, King of the Jews” (John 19:19). The halo of kingship hovered around Him all through His life. He had a royal burial too. His tomb was secured by the Roman imperial seal with the soldiers standing guard over it. He is truly king in all aspects of ideal kingship. Kingdom and kingship was the main topic of Jesus’ teaching. His disciples are truly kingdom servants. All that Jesus taught about discipleship are true of kingdom servanthood too.
The Rule of Love
Jesus declared before Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Neither are the servants of His kingdom worldly people. They are re-born spiritual peoples, separated from the world and worldliness. The kingdoms of this world run on rigid laws enforced by the brute force of the state. But the kingdom of God in based on love. This is no scope for force in a love relationship. Voluntary commitment in what makes one a kingdom servant or a disciple of Jesus Christ.
How far should be our commitment to our heavenly king? God wants our commitment to be absolute and exclusive. When large multitudes were following Jesus, He turned around and said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father or mother, his wife and children his brother and sister–yes even his own life–he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-26). God does not allow our loyalty and commitment to be shared with anything or anyone else. Jesus has called for this exclusive commitment in absolute terms. All other relationships and attachments are to be hated when placed alongside one’s commitment in the Lord. God has the greatest claim on everyone of us. He is our creator, sustainer and master. All the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional faculties we enjoy are God-given gifts. Though He can, God won’t take anything forcefully from us but calls for our absolute commitment in love.
In order to drive home the importance of such an absolute and exclusive commitment, Jesus taught many parables, generally known as kingdom parables. Evangelist Matthew has compiled many of them in clusters. In the 13th chapter of his Gospel we see several of them arranged as beads on a string. In verses 44 and 45 we see the kingdom presented in two picturesque and pithy parables. They emphasize the absolute commitment required from a kingdom servant.
The Hidden Treasure
A man while strolling along the countryside stumbled upon a treasure hidden in a field. He is overjoyed at the finding and hid it. He decided to take possession of it somehow. It is obvious that the treasure in of such large volume and high value lured him no end that he had to buy the whole field to take possession of it. Its cost was so high that the he had to sell off all that he had. He was to have nothing else once the deal was made. Nevertheless, he joyfully parted with all that he had because he knew that the treasure was worth the sacrifice. The absolute and exclusive commitment of one who is worthy of the kingdom of God is highlighted here. He did not hold back anything in the deal. Such should be our commitment to the Lord. No area of our life could be exempt from our submission of our body, soul and spirit.
The Precious Pearl
While the man in the above parable stumbled upon the hidden treasure, here in this, a merchant goes around seeking for precious pearls. He finds one unique priceless pearl. He realized that he had to part with all that he had, if he was to get the pearl. Naturally, he had many things that he held in high value and dear to his heart. He did not hesitate to part with all those valid things to get the special pearl. Willingly did he give off all those things because he knew that he was no loser in the deal. In that exchange he was getting richer by far and he joyfully bartered many things for that one thing– the special, priceless pearl. Here is another example for absolute commitment. Only one who willingly and voluntarily submits everything in every avenue of life is worthy of the kingdom of God. One has to give himself over with all that he thinks he has to be a kingdom servant.
The Parable of the Leaven
A small quality of leaven, mixed into a large amount of flour works so thoroughly and absolutely that no part of the dough will he left unleavened. The kingdom of God is like this. No area of one’s life remains unaffected by one’s commitment to the Lord. A true kingdom servant would join apostle Paul in saying: “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) A thoroughly renewed way of life is the sure mark of one’s discipleship and kingdom servanthood.
The parable of the leaven also highlights the influence a kingdom servant exists in the society he lives. He is like a small lump of leaven. He silently exerts his benevolent influence into the life of all around him.
In everything Jesus Christ is our role-model and guide. The King of the kingdom of God gave Himself over to the subjects. Even the last drop of His hold blood was paid for our ransom. The King has given us an example to emulate. May our commitment to our sovereign king be absolute and exclusive. Nothing short of it will make us worthy of the eternal kingdom to come.