The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.
Those poor Pharisees! Doesn’t Jesus see they’re only trying to protect and lead the people? They are doing their best in the way they know how. And if they happen to profit from their actions, well, isn’t that their just rewards?
Often those who find themselves in positions of leadership find there are perks that go with the position. Even beyond the respect and admiration afforded to those in power, there can be financial and other benefits. Once we find ourselves in a position of leadership, we can lose sight of our original intention: service. And to keep ourselves in these exalted positions, we need to be clear who is allowed in our special group and who is an outcast.
In the parable that Jesus shares today we see a group of people grasping at things that do not belong to them. Even the Pharisees see what the end result will be. But it is interesting that the judgement that Jesus says will be rendered on the Pharisees is not that they will lose their positions, their influence, or their prestige. No, they will lose something much more precious they will lose the kingdom of God – The peace that comes from living in the presence of God. In the original Greek Jesus says the kingdom will be given over to the ethnos, literally the family of humankind.
In the same way that the curtain in the Holy of Holies is torn top to bottom and God is revealed to all at the moment of Jesus’ death, Jesus is saying every woman, man, and child is given the kingdom. It is not reserved for those with special training, for a particular race, with economic status, with a color of skin, or any other of the myriad ways we divide our family. Jesus is living proof that God is with us. And, it seems, it is only those who would deny God to others who will lose the kingdom.
Today I pray that I remember to be of service to all who I encounter, regardless of our relationship according to human ideas.
Talib Huff is on the retreat team at Christ the King Retreat Center In Citrus Heights. You can contact him at [email protected].