Jesus tells another parable. The kingdom of heaven is like many things. It is at once like a mustard seed, like yeast, like a treasure hidden in a field, like the one pearl of great value, like a net cast into the sea catching fish of every kind. There is searching and finding and celebrating and there is the giving up of everything for the sake of the one great treasure.
With each grouping Jesus refers to the end of the age, the angels who will sort and burning and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. When Jesus asks have they understood this, they answer, “Yes.”
I wonder, what on earth it is they have understood.
We live in a world which has need for explanation answers. Whereas these parables of Jesus offer no explanation, but rather invite imagination and more questions. When Jesus says, “the kingdom of heaven is like …”,
he is inviting us to consider what we think it might be like and even to add our image or simile or metaphor. How we imagine what the kingdom of heaven is like depends a lot on what we need the kingdom of heaven to be, which frequently hinges on factors we’d rather ignore.
Our preferences for certain images of the kingdom of heaven have less to do with what the Bible says and more about what’s at stake for us theologically. Our language about the kingdom of heaven tends to be attached to how we think God should act and not how God has already acted. Our assumptions about the kingdom of heaven rely heavily on our system of rewards and what we would like to happen (to us, and at times to “them”).
Now, imagine how God has already acted in Jesus Christ. What does Jesus do and say? Where does he go and who does he see. Who does he talk with and live among and, most importantly, who is Jesus representing? What seeds is Jesus planting in our imagination to shape how we see the kingdom of heaven as we sense the husks cracking open and new shoots reaching their way out ?
‘The kingdom of heaven is like, is near, is within …”