Thursday, July 5, 2018
Receiving the Kingdom of God
By Dan and Brenda Cathcart
Moed Ministries International
The video version of this teaching is available at:
The scripture reading for this teaching is Mark 10:1-45
Yeshua’s parables and teachings about the kingdom of God usually focus on what the kingdom is like and who can enter into it. But now, as Yeshua is on His way to Jerusalem where He will be crucified, He turns His teaching around and talks about receiving the Kingdom.
Mark 10:15 NKJV 15 "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
This looks like a two-step process; we receive the kingdom as a child and, then, enter into it. So, receiving the kingdom is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom. What is the difference between the concept of receiving the kingdom of God and entering it? How is receiving the kingdom like a child different from receiving it as an adult?
We can use the idea of receiving a gift to illustrate the idea of receiving the kingdom. After all, Paul said that God gives us the gift of eternal life through Yeshua.
Romans 6:23 NKJV 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Suppose, then, that someone sends you a gift through the mail. The mailman delivers it and puts it on your porch. Although the gift is on your property and technically in your possession, you have not yet received it. It is not until you take it up in your hands, bring it into your house and open it that you have truly received it. We can take it even further, and say that you have not truly received the gift if you just put it back in the box and set it on a shelf. Instead, you truly receive it when you put the gift to the use for which it is given. If the gift is an article of clothing, you receive it the first time you actually wear it. If it is a decorative item, you truly receive it when you display it.
To receive the kingdom of God is to put it to its intended use. That’s a different thought isn’t it? How do we use, display or wear the kingdom of God? One way is, of course, to be a light to the world.
Matthew 5:15-16 NKJV 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Another way is to do the will of the Father.
Matthew 7:21 NKJV 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
In fact, we don’t receive the kingdom of God just by observing that it is on our front porch. We only fully receive the kingdom of God when it is within us.
Luke 17:20-21 NKJV 20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 "nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
The second part of the requirement for receiving the kingdom of God is that we do it as a child. On the surface, this is easy to understand. The NKJV Study Bible comments that:
“Children exhibit sincerity, eagerness, a trusting attitude, and total dependence on their parents. Thus childlikeness is a fitting comparison for the qualities a disciple should have.”[i]
Okay, these are the good qualities that a child should have and we should receive the kingdom with sincerity, eagerness and a trusting attitude. However, anyone who has worked with children knows that children can also be selfish, stubborn, rebellious, and skeptical. There must be a deeper understanding of receiving the kingdom as a child.
The context of Yeshua’s statement about receiving the kingdom as a child leads us to a deeper understanding. Some of those who had joined Yeshua across the Jordan as He journeyed to Jerusalem brought children to Yeshua so that He could touch them, or in other words bless them.
Mark 10:13 NKJV 13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
The first time the Bible describes someone blessing his child or offspring is Isaac’s blessing over Jacob. The first blessing Isaac gave to Jacob is the one Isaac intended to give to Esau. The second blessing Isaac gave to Jacob is the one Isaac gave specifically to Jacob.
Genesis 28:3-4 NKJV 3 "May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples; 4 And give you the blessing of Abraham, To you and your descendants with you, That you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, Which God gave to Abraham."
Jacob followed in the practice of Isaac and blessed each of his children. It is this example that the Jewish people use today to bless their children. Every Sabbath parents lay their hands on the heads of their children and bless them. The blessing over the sons is that they be like Ephraim and Menasseh who were the first two brothers in the Bible that apparently didn’t fight with each other. The blessing over the daughters is that they be like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah who were the matriarchs instrumental in building the Jewish people.
Yeshua was displeased with His disciples who attempted to keep the children away from Him.
Mark 10:14-16 NKJV 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.
Yeshua stated that the kingdom of God is made up of the children who come to Him to be blessed. The kingdom of God is not made up of just any children, but those children who come to Him and receive His blessing! We need to come to Yeshua as a child and receive His blessing just like a child comes to His or her parents on the Sabbath and receives their blessing.
The Sabbath is a foretaste of the days of Messiah and the Kingdom of God to come. Picture the Sabbath evening – the candles are lit, the blessing over the wife has been given and now the children are called up for the blessing. Or perhaps the parents walk around the table blessing each child in turn. After the specific blessing that the child be like Ephraim, Manasseh, or Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, the Aaronic benediction is said over each child.
Numbers 6:24-26 NKJV 24 "The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."'
Now, put yourself in the place of the children seated around the table with Yeshua at the head. He calls each of us up and blesses each of us individually. Or perhaps, He leaves His place at the head and goes to each of us seated at the table and blesses us.
In order to enter the kingdom of God, we must receive Yeshua’s blessing. We must take what He has given us and use it for its intended purpose. The first blessing in the Bible is that of God blessing Abram.
Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV 1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
In order to receive this blessing from God, Abram had to use it; he had to leave his old country behind as well as those of his family who did not believe in the One True God. And He had to be a blessing to others. When Abram left Haran for the Promised Land, he took with them those people that they had acquired who believed as he believed.
Genesis 12:5 NKJV 5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.
After blessing the children, we read that a rich young ruler eagerly came to Yeshua. He was seeking assurance that He would enter the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:17 NKJV 17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
Matthew’s gospel adds that the man asked what good thing he could do to guarantee that he would receive eternal life.
Matthew 19:16 NKJV 16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?"
Yeshua’s answer is interesting. Instead of addressing the question, He questions the way the man addressed Him.
Mark 10:18 NKJV 18 So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
Yeshua is playing on the man’s pairing of his description of Yeshua as a good teacher and the request for a good thing to do to inherit eternal life. The Psalms refer to God as “good” numerous times, instructing the reader to give praise of thanks to God because He is good! The sages also associate to do good as acts of Torah. First Fruits of Zion comments in The Chronicles of the Messiah quoting the Talmud:
The scripture tells us in Psalm 34:14, “Turn away from evil and do good.” By the word “good” nothing is meant but Torah, as it is written [in Proverbs 4:2], “For I have given you a good teaching, do not forsake my Torah.” (b.Avodah Zarah 19b)[ii]
First, Yeshua is asking if the man is really calling Him good; that is does he understand that Yeshua is the divine Son of God. Second, Yeshua is reminding the man that good acts are acts of Torah.
Matthew 19:17b-19 NKJV 17 But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to Him, "Which ones?" Jesus said, "'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 19 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
But the man presses Yeshua, seeking one truly good thing he can do to gain eternal life.
Matthew 19:20 NKJV 20 The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"
He recognized that his acts of Torah were not enough for eternal life. He asks for one additional big act that he can do to earn eternal life. So, Yeshua gave him a huge good deed he could do; the man could sell everything.
Matthew 19:21 NAS95 21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
Was Yeshua saying that the man could earn eternal life by just selling everything and giving it to the poor? No, read the second part of Yeshua’s instructions again; Yeshua told the rich young ruler to follow Him! Yeshua gave the man what he wanted—a good deed to do—that revealed the man’s heart. Then Yeshua gave him what he really needed; the rich, young man needed to follow him.
The gospel of Mark reveals that Yeshua’s motivation was love for this man; Yeshua desired to grant him eternal life and admittance to the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:21 NAS95 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
It was not the act of selling all his goods that would ensure he have eternal life; it was the act of loving God above loving his worldly wealth. It was about following Yeshua. Yeshua taught about storing up wealth in heaven.
Matthew 6:19-21 NAS95 19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The rich, young man turned away from Yeshua; his heart was on earthly things not on heavenly things.
Mark 10:22 NAS95 22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
Yeshua remarked to His disciples that it was extremely hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:23-25 NKJV 23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Those who trust in riches cannot fully trust in God. Without trust in God, it is impossible to enter the kingdom of God. Yeshua uses the example of a camel going through the eye of a needle. Although we would like to make a whole theological construct that the eye of a needle is a gate and we just unload the camel to get through the gate, or that the word camel is the same as the Aramaic word for rope and we just need to unravel the rope until nothing is left but threads which can go through the eye of a needle; the reality is that this was a variation of a common idiom of the day. A later form of it appears in rabbinic literature as the impossibility of an elephant going through the eye of a needle.[iii] We have a similar idiom that would go like this: “A rich man will get into the kingdom of God as soon as pigs learn to fly.” It’s an impossibility for pigs to learn to fly! The disciples took the idiom as such and asked if anyone could actually get into the kingdom of God! Yeshua assured them that with God, it was indeed possible.
Mark 10:26-27 NKJV 26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?" 27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
There was nothing the rich man could do to earn his way into heaven; the camel doesn’t go through the eye of a needle, neither does a rope! However, if the rich young man would have trusted God all his heart and followed Yeshua as instructed, God would have made a way for him into the kingdom of God. If he would have followed Yeshua up to Jerusalem and to the cross, he would have been assured of eternal life.
Romans 5:8 NKJV 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Abram demonstrated complete trust in God when he left everything behind and set out for the Promised Land. By doing so, Abram received the blessing! This rich young man, though, rejected the blessing and failed to enter the kingdom of God.
The discussion about receiving the kingdom of God continued with Peter’s question about what the disciples would receive since they, unlike the rich, young man, did leave everything and follow Yeshua.
Mark 10:28-31 NKJV 28 Then Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You." 29 So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, 30 "who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 "But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
Yeshua did not promise them a life free of troubles; Abram did not receive a life free of troubles nor did he receive the land that God promised him in this life! Yeshua promised persecution in this life, but riches in the kingdom of God! Matthew’s gospel includes the information that the twelve disciples will be placed in authority over the tribes of Israel when Yeshua sets up His kingdom on Earth.
Matthew 19:28-29 NKJV 28 So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
Those who have put Yeshua first in their lives will receive a hundredfold return; not in material goods to make one rich, but in heavenly treasure stored for us in heaven.
After this discussion with His disciples, Yeshua began the journey from the Jordan River up to Jerusalem. As they were on the road, Yeshua explained what would happen when He arrived.
Mark 10:32-34 NKJV 32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: 33 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 "and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again."
This was at least the third time that Yeshua spoke of His death and resurrection, but this time Yeshua spelled out exactly what would happen. Perhaps this accounts for some of the amazement and fear with which they followed Yeshua on the path to Jerusalem. On their last two trips to Jerusalem, the scribes and Pharisees had sought to kill Yeshua. After Yeshua’s resurrection, He would explain why it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer.
Luke 24:46-47 NKJV 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Yeshua had to die and rise again in order to make available the gift of eternal life and the kingdom of God. The gift of eternal life has been delivered to you. It has been waiting for you to receive it from the time Yeshua went up to Jerusalem to die and to rise again. Come to Yeshua as a child and receive the blessing He wants to give to you.
1. What are ways that we show that we have received the kingdom of God?
2. How often and in what context did Yeshua touch others? How did each of these “touches” bless the person Yeshua touched?
3. Blessings and the Sabbath go together. Isaiah 56:1-8 describes the blessing received by a person who keeps the Sabbath. What is that blessing?
4. At Yeshua’s last Passover Seder, He got up and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-11). Compare this event to a Father blessing His children on the Sabbath.
© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved
[i] The NKJV Study Bible. Earl D. Radmacher, Th.D. Thomas Nelson. ©2007. P1569.
[ii] The Chonicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014 D. T. Lancaster. P.1176.
[iii] The Chonicles of the Messiah. D. Thomas Lancaster. First Fruits of Zion. ©2014 D. T. Lancaster. P.1182.