The main theme of the Public Ministry of Jesus is the Kingdom of God. But he did not mean an organization or law and order or prosperity and peace.
Most references to the Kingdom of God by Jesus is given in Mathew 13, a large collection of parables of Jesus. Many times Jesus would say, “The kingdom of God is like this…” followed by a story or parable.
Here are a few parables given by Jesus:
Parable of the Sower:
A farmer sowed seeds in his land. While scattering seeds, some fell on the way and were eaten up by birds. Some seeds fell on rocky land where it grew fast as the soil was shallow. But, when the sun shined, the plants were scorched as they withered, without any root. Some other seeds fell amidst thorns that sprang up but choked the plants. Some others fell on good soil where they produced fruit- a thirty, sixty and a hundred times.
Jesus said that he gave such parables to explain the secrets of the Kingdom of God. Jesus explained the parable of the sower thus: the birds snatching away the seeds stand for Satan or the evil one, who snatches away the budding faith in the hearts of the people. The seed that fell to the rocky ground stands for people, who eagerly receive the message of the Kingdom but when any trials or tribulations come, they fade away. Some seeds fall alongside thorns that choke them like persons, who are choked by the worries of the world or the deceit of wealth. But thankfully, there are seeds that bear fruit by falling on good soil: these are people, who understand the word of God and bear fruit multiple times.
Parable of the Weeds:
The Kingdom of heaven is like a man, who sown some good seeds of wheat in his field. But at night, the enemy came and sown weeds in the same field. When the wheat sprouted, the weeds also appeared. The servants of the man wondered where the weeds came and what they should do with them. The man told the servants not to uproot the weeds as they might accidentally uproot the good wheat along with them. He said let the two grow untill harvest. At harvest time, he will instruct the servants to gather the weeds and burn them while the wheat would be collected and stored in barns.
Jesus explains this parable: the good seed are the followers of Christ spread throughout the world. But the weeds are bad people spread by the Evil one or Satan. The Kingdom of God allows the bad and good people to exist side by side. God is waiting for harvest time, till when the bad are given the opportunity to join the good. But at harvest or Judgment Day while the good will enter heaven, the bad will be banished to hell.
Harvest is on Judgment Day, the end of all ages as per this parable. On this day, the good will be resurrected with Christ. The Kingdom of God ends with the return of Christ rather than begin with it. Christ did not mean that the Kingdom was a place of peace and prosperity; rather it is a time when his disciples bear fruit.
Parables about Growth:
Jesus compared the Kingdom to a mustard seed, which a man planted on his land. This is the smallest of seeds, but when it grows, it becomes the tallest of garden plants, almost a tree where birds take shelter in its branches.
Here Jesus is referring to the Kingdom not only as a small seed but also the smallest seed. He does not describe the coming of the Kingdom as a grand revolution, but as something small that grows big gradually into something great.
Jesus gives another parable about the growth of the Kingdom in perhaps the shortest one. He compares the Kingdom to a pinch of yeast, which a woman added in the dough such that the whole dough was completely leavened.
When yeast is added to the dough, it is not very noticeable, but even a little amount produces a large effect. Similarly, the Kingdom begins very small but grows into something huge, affecting the whole of humanity.
This smallness of the kingdom of God may have confused the listeners of Jesus, who were waiting for a messiah to free them from Roman rule. They were waiting for a grand kingdom with the richness and grandeur of the courts of David and Solomon. But Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to something small like the mustard seed or yeast. These parables describe a long and slow growth of the Kingdom.
Hidden Treasure Parables:
The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure concealed in a field. When a person finds it, he hides it again and in his joy, he goes and sells all he has and purchases that field.
The Kingdom was also like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he found a pearl of great value, he went and sold everything he had and purchased this pearl.
By these parables, the Kingdom is considered as a hidden treasure, but for one, which is worth giving up everything else in the world.
But we can never buy or earn the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the central figure in these parables. Jesus sees the treasure in his followers and gives up everything to buy the prize.
Good Fish/ Bad Fish
The Kingdom of heaven is like a net, which was cast in the lake and captured different kinds of fish. The fishermen pulled the net ashore when it was full. Then, they collected the good fish in baskets and threw away the bad ones.
This is what will happen at the end of the ages. The angels will separate the good persons from the bad sending the good ones to heaven and casting bad ones into hell.
The Kingdom of God consists of both good and evil persons. The message of the Kingdom is given to both and opportunity is given for bad persons to turn good. Opportunity is given, but ultimately there is judgment.
These are some of the major parables of Jesus about the Kingdom of God. In some little, beautiful stories, he gives a clear picture of the Kingdom.