Jesus insists that the glorious anticipated kingdom of God is also present in a hidden way in his ministry and that of his followers. These parables most clearly declare that God's kingdom has arrived in some sense in Jesus' ministry, in a hidden and anticipatory way. Far from baptizing the wicked in fire and overthrowing the nations at his first coming, Jesus came as a meek servant (12:18-20), wandering around Galilee with a group of obscure disciples and healing some sick people.
In a world characterized by political turmoil and filled with wandering teachers and magicians, Jesus' initial arrival as a politically inconspicuous servant had rendered his mission as opaque as his parables, except to people of faith. We Christians sound foolish to those outside Jesus' circle when we speak of a final judgment and living for a future kingdom; what does that have to do with the troubles of daily life in the present? But those who have pressed into Jesus' circle today, like those who did so two thousand years ago, know who Jesus really is. Despite the magnitude of the task before us, we dare not despise the "smallness" of our own works, for God's entire program long ago came hidden in a small package.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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