Scripture Reading: Matthew 17 - 19 ...
In the span of a few brief chapters in his Gospel, Matthew records the transfiguration of Jesus on a high mountain, the healing of a boy with a demon, Jesus’ teaching on taxes, greatness in God’s kingdom and the joy in heaven over the lost being found, along with instructions on forgiveness, divorce and riches … all of which reveal the goal, the end result of His coming: “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (19:28). And Jesus went on to say that those who truly followed Him, sacrificing the things of this world, would receive a hundred times as much in the world to come as they inherit eternal life!!!
Jesus talked about the kingdom of heaven, pointed people to the kingdom of heaven and opened the door into the kingdom of heaven. Of all the people who have ever lived on the earth, only Jesus could speak with authority about God's rule in heaven because He came from there! Jesus left His glory in heaven to come to earth, take upon Himself a human nature and go to the cross ... it is still unfathomable, if not for the work of the Holy Spirit in revealing these things to those whom He chooses.
It must have been an incredibly amazing sight for Peter, James and John as they stood beside Jesus on the mountaintop and saw a portion of His glory revealed. They could not have survived the fullness of His glory in their human state. When the voice of God spoke they dropped to the ground, terrified. As these three disciples shared in this moment, it was something they would never forget. John would write later, in I John 1:1-3, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life ..."
The “Word of life,” the only Savior, God in the flesh, through whom those who are spiritually dead are made alive! Standing with Him on the mountain were Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, God’s revelation up until this time. And God Himself testifies, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (17:5). The world then did not know Him, and the majority of people in this world today do not know Him. Yet He is the One who can cast out demons and confound the religious teachers with His wisdom. Jesus said to Peter, James and John, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (17:9). Jesus’ life and ministry were brief according to human measurements, but He did all that He came to do! He taught about God’s kingdom, He offered His life as the perfect sacrifice on the cross and then, just as He had said, He rose from the dead on the third day!!
Jesus appeared in the flesh, but He is so much more! That's why it is tragic to listen to people who present Jesus only as our model, our example to follow. He IS that, but He is so much more! Some see Him as a good man, even as a prophet. But He is so much more! Others see Jesus as a great Teacher, but He is so much more! Jesus came to earth from HEAVEN! So when He talks about the kingdom of heaven, He knows what He is talking about!!
There is no sin or disease in heaven. There is no evil of any kind. You don't have to pay taxes in heaven, because it's all God's! You don't get to be great in the kingdom of heaven by making yourself look good or having power over others. In the kingdom of heaven a child is as important as a king .. even moreso. Jesus came to seek the lost, even if it is only one. In the kingdom of heaven there is forgiveness - incredible, unlimited, gracious forgiveness for those who confess their sin and come to God through faith in Jesus.
And the wonderful thing is, even though you are living on the earth, you can be a citizen of the kingdom today. You can't buy your way into the kingdom of heaven; you can't earn your way into the kingdom of heaven ... only Jesus opens the door into the kingdom of heaven. Life in this world is only a blink, only a glimpse, only a small beginning, and unless you listen to Jesus, as God said we must do, you will miss the reality of eternal life. "This is My Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him" (17:5).
As Jesus speaks about forgiveness in Chapter 18, His teaching and the parable of the unmerciful servant illustrates the life-transforming message Jesus proclaimed. If you understand the good news of the Gospel, that YOU need forgiveness, and that through the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross the Father gives forgiveness in Jesus’ Name to all who believe, how can you possibly refuse to forgive those who seek your forgiveness for their sins against you? Jesus’ words, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart” (18:35), should make you and me examine our own hearts!
Jesus knew He was on earth temporarily, and He wanted you and me to know that WE are on earth temporarily. There is more to come. But there are TWO possible destinations. The kingdom of heaven is the dwelling place of God, and only those who know Jesus as Savior and Lord will enter God's kingdom. Eventually, His kingdom will come to earth. Jesus will reign for 1,000 years on this earth, and then God will remove the present heaven and earth and create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; II Peter 3:13; Revelation 20:11, 21:1).
Jesus talked about it, pointed to it and by His death on the cross, opened the door to access into it. As Jesus called the little children to come to Him, so He calls you and me today to come to Him for forgiveness and life! Believe in Him today and know that you are a citizen of God's eternal kingdom!
"Dear Father in heaven, I thank You for sending Your Son from heaven to seek and to save ME! Help me to look forward with joy and anticipation to all You have promised to those who believe and give me grace to live as a citizen of Your kingdom even as I live in this world. Give me wisdom to know that all of this is temporary, but life in Your kingdom is forever! To YOU be all the honor, praise, wisdom, glory and power, forever and ever! In Jesus' name, Amen"