“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” – Matthew 13:11
At the height of His popularity, Jesus initiated a dramatic change of direction. From among the adoring thousands who followed Him on the northwestern side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus selected twelve to “be with Him” continually. The members of the fellowship Jesus created had one thing in common. They were outsiders. No one knew much about them. They fell outside the mainstream of the “most likely to succeed” club. Perhaps there was a method to Jesus’ madness. Could it be that Jesus was sending a clear message concerning what was ahead?
In an event similar to Jesus’ earlier rejection by family and friends in Nazareth, He made another startling claim in Capernaum. It is not what He said but what He did that created another catastrophic controversy. Read Matthew 12:22-45.
Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and unable to speak was brought to Him. He healed him, so that the man could both speak and see. All the crowds were astounded and said, “could this be the son of David?” – Matthew 12:22-23
Up to this point in his ministry, Jesus was openly declaring himself to be the promised Son of David, Israel’s Messiah. Something about this particular miracle prompted the people who observed it to question whether or not Jesus’ claim was valid.
Many Pharisees were present when Jesus freed the demon-possessed man. The people’s questions put them in a difficult position. To protect their position, they made an astounding claim of their own.
This man drives out demons only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons. – Matthew 12:24b
The verses following the Pharisees’ response reveal the line in the sand that Jesus drew that day. Those questioning Jesus’ identity were forced to make a decision. Would they continue to follow Jesus or listen to the Pharisees? From that day to the day He was crucified, Jesus’ popularity dwindled. The Twelve were continually confronted with the reality that being with Jesus carried a cost.
Cause and effect. Something happens that leads to the next event. As a corporate body, Israel, comprised of tribes, families, and individuals, followed the lead of the Pharisees instead of Jesus. Most people walked away from Jesus out of fear. Immediately following His further in Capernaum, Jesus started talking and teaching differently. The first ones to notice it were the members of Jesus’ new small group. They observed a shift from making open claims about His Messiahship to secretively training them through the use of parables.
1st Century Jewish people looked forward to a literal 1,000-year reign of their eternal Davidic King from His throne in Jerusalem. Today, prophetically informed Jesus followers identify this period as the Messianic or Millennial Kingdom, a period that has not yet arrived. It was, however, being offered as prophesied in their Jewish Bible by their Jewish Messiah around 30 A.D. Israel rejected their Messiah, and He withdrew His immediate offer of the Messianic Kingdom.
Now, take a look at Matthew 13:1-58. The parables of Matthew 13 reveal previously unknown information about the nature and composition of the “Mystery Kingdom,” one comprised of Jews and Gentiles, believers and unbelievers alike. The Mystery Kingdom began at Pentecost and will conclude with the Rapture of the Church. The Church that Jesus is now building in this age is only part of the Mystery Kingdom. All people who in some way identify with Christ might be better identified as “Christendom.” Christendom is not the same as the Church. Many people claim certain allegiances to Jesus who are not part of the Church.
Jesus’ disciples were privileged to hear His explanation of the Matthew 13 parables. Because they rejected Jesus by siding with the Pharisaic claims that He was Satanically empowered to cast out demons, the masses were now subject to two irreversible judgments.
For more information on the “Parables of the Kingdom,” I refer you to a manuscript written by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, founder of Ariel Ministries. If you ever have the opportunity, I wholly recommend that you find a place to sit under Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s teaching on “The Life of Messiah from a Jewish Perspective.”
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