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Chap. 10 - Apocalypse Now

As I'm journaling Matthew, I'm trying to be personal rather than intellectual. But I've been trying to learn about the Bible for many years. I listen to lectures, attend classes where I have the time and resources, and read books, and I'm going to make an intellectual detour. One of the things that I have learned is about the apocalyptic nature of the New Testament. We tend to think of this as being about the destruction of the world and a hugely bad event that people have to survive. But for scholars, this is really about the conflict between two kingdoms--the kingdom of this world, with its human-made elements, and the kingdom of God, which is slowly being revealed in Jesus. For the NT, the kingdom of this world is a mixed bag--it includes bad and even evil things, but also neutral and even some nice things. The point is, it doesn't contain any eternal things. The kingdom of this world will ultimately pass away. The Bible is clear about some things that part of the kingdom of this world (governments, money) but I think part of the Christian life is correctly deciding what is eternal and living in light of that (in our world, I think the only eternal things are people and creation).

All of that comes really clear in Matthew 10. If we don't understand that Jesus is seeing the world through this two-kingdom lens, we can wonder what He's up to. He says to announce that "the kingdom of the skies has come near" to people, who are eternal. He says not to worry about money, which will pass away. He says to proclaim the message even if you are opposed by government, which will pass away. He also points to the fact that the two kingdoms really are in conflict, and that for those of us who want to be dedicated to the kingdom of God, the conflict will often be uncomfortable.

It's surprising that Jesus says that He comes to not to bring peace, but a sword, but this is the conflict He's talking about. His kingdom is a kingdom of peace, but the kingdom of the world hates the threat to its power, and so it resists. This means problems for the people who follow Jesus, but ultimately we get to be part of the work He is doing to proclaiming good news of healing and freedom. That's pretty cool.

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