Mark 8:14-21, Mark 13:1-2
These must have been frustrating moments for Jesus. Both conversations take place at the end of His ministry, after having spent three years teaching His disciples. From the moment His ministry began, Jesus had been teaching them that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, that God’s Kingdom and God’s law was a matter of the heart and of eternal, spiritual consequences, not a set of external rules of behavior. Yet, His disciples still didn’t get it. When he talked about the “yeast” of the Pharisees, meaning their sinful character, which would continue to spread through the hearts of the nation, all they could think of was literal bread. When they walked into Jerusalem, even after He had taught them about the eternal Kingdom of God, all they could see was how marvelous the polished stones of the Temple appeared.
To paraphrase Jesus’ rebuttal of His disciples, “Don’t you get it boys! I’m talking about things that really matter, eternal things, and all you can think about is bread and blocks. Those things are incidental. I can literally pull those things out of thin air. I don’t care about the temporary things like what I’m going to eat today or where I’m going to live, I’m concerned about eternal things, like where I’m going to spend eternity!”
It took the disciples a long time to figure this out. Shortly after this dialogue in chapter 8, Peter makes his proclamation that Jesus is, “the Christ, the son of the living God.” Upon Peter’s pronouncement Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem and began the journey towards fulfilling His mission. It is pretty safe to say that Peter had missed the point in his proclamation. Even though he said the right words, he probably did not yet understand them. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on the donkey, the disciples probably believed, along with the praising crowds, that Jesus was about to take over the city and establish His Kingdom on Earth. When Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested and executed the disciples fled for their lives, confused and disillusioned.
They were still focused on bread and blocks. It wasn’t until they saw the resurrected Jesus and were filled with the Holy Spirit 50 days later at Pentecost that they began to understand the deep teaching of Jesus. His Kingdom was not a physical kingdom. Physical kingdoms come and go. Bread molds, buildings decay. God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of the heart that is based upon true character and inward integrity. God’s Kingdom is eternal.
Which Kingdom do you live in each day? Do you worry about the “stuff” or do you focus on the eternal truth of the good news of Jesus?