Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Physical Suffering and Agony of Jesus on the Cross

<---The Glories of Heaven


The true image of suffering of Christ on the Cross.

During the Passover feast we recall the death of Jesus. If we are going to be proclaiming His death, it's important that we know something about that death.
In this posting we will examine the final hours of Jesus Christ, His physical suffering and agony before death.

History of Crucifixion.

When we think of the word cross, what usually comes to mind is an upright beam projecting above a shorter cross piece 3. This is the form of the cross which traditional Christian art depicts Jesus dying upon. In fact, the Romans used five different types of crosses for crucifying people. It is unknown which type of the cross Jesus was crucified on.

The Greek word for cross is "stauros", and the Latin word is "crux". The word primarily means "an upright stake or beam, and secondarily a stake used as an instrument for punishment and execution."

The torture of the cross is of oriental origin. Was received from the Persians, Assyrians and Chaldeans, by the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. Modified in various forms in the span of centuries.
At first it was a simple wood post. After was fixed a gallow (fork), of which the prisoner was suspended by the neck. Later he used a wooden cross (patibulum), taking a new look. Depending on how the transverse stick will hold to the vertical stick, originated three kinds of crosses:

The five different forms of the cross are:

•Crux Simplex - A single vertical stake on which the victim wasted or nailed.
•Crux Commissa - (St. Anthony's cross) in the form of a capital T.
•Crux Decussata - (St. Andrew's cross) in the form of the letter X.
•Crux Immissa - the traditional two beams t,
is the so-called Latin cross, we all know.
•Greek Cross - upright and length wise beams of the same length.

We know that in these final hours of His life Jesus was crucified.

But what exactly is a crucifixion?

The first known practice of crucifixion was by the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to the Phoenicians, Egyptians and Carthaginians. Alexander and his generals brought it back to the Mediterranean world to Egypt and to Carthage. The Romans apparently learned the practice from the Carthaginians and (as with almost everything the Romans did) rapidly developed a very high degree of efficiency and skill at it.
A number of Roman authors (Livy, Cicer, Tacitus) comment on crucifixion, and several innovations, modifications, and variations are described in the ancient literature.
Over time the Romans made several innovations and modifications in the method of crucifixion.

For instance, the upright portion of the cross (or stipes) could have the cross-arm (or patibulum) attached two or three feet below its top in what we commonly think of as the Latin cross.
The most common form used for our Lord's death, however, was the Tau cross, shaped like our T. In this cross the patibulum was placed in a notch at the top of the stipes. There is archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified.

Without any historical or biblical proof, Medieval and Renaissance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross.
Many of the painters and most of the sculptors of crucifixion, also show the nails through the palms. Historical Roman accounts and experimental work have established that the nails were driven between the small bones of the wrists (radial and ulna) and not through the palms.
Nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when made to support the weight of the human body.
The misconception may have come about through a misunderstanding of Jesus' words to Thomas, "Observe my hands." Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrist as part of the hand.

A titulus, or small sign, stating the victim's crime was usually placed on a staff, carried at the front of the procession from the prison, and later nailed to the cross so that it extended above the head.
This sign with its staff nailed to the top of the cross would have given it somewhat the characteristic form of the Latin cross.

Roman citizens were rarely crucified. Crucifixion was reserved for slaves, the lower classes and the worst types of criminals. The Christian tradition that says Peter was crucified, and Paul beheaded, agrees with the historical Roman practice of crucifixion.

Jesus had a very good Health.

It would be safe to think that Jesus was in excellent health. True, life as a carpenter was not luxurious and a way to become rich, but add to that a Mediterranean diet, which is said to be the healthiest in the world—and later the constant walking carrying the Father´s word, was vigorous enough to put him in reasonable health.

Yet, at the garden of Gethse­mane on the evening of Holy Thursday and morning of Good Friday, he underwent great emotional stress from being abandoned by friends, the thought of humiliation and a cruel death by crucifixion, that he produced bloodied beads of sweat.

This condition is called hematidrosis or hemihidrosis, where the veins and skin become tender from anguish that they break, mixing the blood with sweat.

Without sleep and have breakfast, and weary from walking about 2.5 miles back and forth between the sites of different trials, Jesus's body had become defenseless to the harsh scourging he would suffer hours later.

We have often contemplated the suffering and death of Jesus Christ through the Seven Last Words. But did we ever stop to think just how truly, physically painful it must have been for Him to be whipped, crowned with thorns, bear the cross, and have iron spikes driven into our hands and feet?

The word "excruciating" comes from the Latin, excruciatus, or "out of the cross."
In every true sense, Jesus's death was that, and so much more.

Preparing to Scourging.

In March 1965 Dr. C. Truman Davis wrote an article titled:
"A medical explanation of what Jesus endured on the day He died," published in Arizona Medicine by Arizona Medical Association.

Davis, an ophthalmologist, a pastor, and author of a book about medicine and the Bible, wrote that the flagrum, a short whip with small balls of lead tied near the ends of each thong, "is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus's shoulders, back, and legs. At first, the heavy thongs cut through the skin only."

Other writings have said about the scourging;

The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each.
The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs. At first the thongs cut through the skin only.
Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.

The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows. Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is finally stopped.

The succeeding blows, however, "cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally, spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles."
The whip tears into the deep skeletal muscles to produce ribbons of bleeding flesh.

They make fun of Jesus.

The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still need a crown to make their travesty complete. Flexible branches covered with long thorns (commonly used in bundles for firewood) are plaited into the shape of a crown and this is pressed into His scalp.

Let us keep in mind that:

This crown of thorns was driven into his scalp, causing more bleeding, the scalp being among the most veined parts of the human body.
Again there is copious bleeding, the scalp being one of the most vascular areas of the body.
They returned his robe, only to tear it off again, again opening the wounds whose dried blood has adhered to the cloth.

Bearing the Weight.

Finally, the journey to the Calvary begins.
The heavy the crossbar weighing 34 to 57 kg weight is put across his nape and shoulders. Today, men can swing sacks of rice weighing 50 kilos on their backs. But remember that Jesus was already very weak, had lost a great amount of blood, was in excruciating pain, and was under emotional strain.

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross is tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion begins its slow journey along the Via Dolorosa.
In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much.

He stumbles and falls repeatedly that Simon of Cyrene was ordered to carry the cross part of the way.
The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.

The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock, until the 650 yard journey from the fortress Antonia to Golgotha is finally completed.

The Crucifixion.

More pain is coming. In preparation for his nailing to the cross, Jesus is violently thrown backward, grinding his continuously bleeding wounds onto the wood and possibly allowing dirt to enter them.

Iron spikes measuring 25 to 35 cm are driven through Jesus' hands (some accounts say the wrists would be more accurate location.
Medically speaking, the wrists are part of the hands). Because the hand is full of sensory nerves, any stimulation would cause agonizing shots of pain in both arms, and maybe throughout the body.

The feet are nailed next, and Jesus is now crucified. The nailed hands carry the weight of Jesus's whole body and tear at the wounds. Meanwhile, the stimulation of the nerves in feet is also causing Jesus much pain.
Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture. He refuses to drink. Simon is ordered to place the patibulum on the ground and Jesus quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood.

The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood.
Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arms to tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum is then lifted in place at the top of the stipes and the titulus reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" is nailed in place.

Dr. Davis writes very impressed: "As He slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms - the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves.
As He pushes Himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again, there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of the feet."

In another study of the medical aspects of the crucifixion, it is said that the procedure is relatively bloodless because no major arteries are hit. However, the pain, coupled with the incessant bleeding of the back wounds, lead to the deterioration of Jesus's condition.

Excruciating Pain.

Excluding the pain, the major effect of crucifixion is the hindrance to normal breathing because the body pulls down on the outstretched arms and shoulders. After being in this position for quite a while, exhalation becomes shallow and labored.
The upper body starts to cramp, making it even more difficult to breath.

Jesus tries to breathe more freely and ease the cramping on his upper body by pushing himself up by the feet. But that offers little comfort due to the piercing pain in the feet.

At this point, as the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by his arms, the pectoral muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.

The mere act of breathing has never been so agonizing for a single human being.
After "three hours of crucifixion, and more four hours corporal pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rendering cramps," Jesus slips into unconsciousness due to asphyxia, a lack of oxygen in the body usually caused by interruption of breathing.
It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences recorded:

The first word: looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

The second word: to the penitent thief, "Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise."

The third word: looking down at the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John -- the beloved Apostle -- he said, "Behold your mother." Then, looking to His mother Mary, "Woman behold your son."

The fourth word: cry is from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?"

The fith word: "I thirst"

The sixth word: When Jesus had received the wine, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and handed over the spirit.

The seventh word: Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit":

At 3:00 p.m. of Good Friday, Our Lord JesusChrist dies.

According to studies, the exact cause of Jesus's death, only six hours after he was nailed, was hastened by a combination of loss of strength, loss of blood and loss of oxygen. Between the scientific deductions, many would suspect that he died because thus was written and had to die thus.
The piercing of the spear on his side, which likely ruptured his lungs and heart, was done to ensure death...

The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John reports:
"And immediately there came out blood and water." That is, there was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart, giving postmortem evidence that Our Lord died not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure (a broken heart) due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.

Thus we have had the glimpse, including the medical evidence, of that epitome of evil which man has exhibited toward Man and toward God. It has been a terrible sight, and more than enough to leave us despondent and depressed.
How grateful we can be that we have the great sequel in the infinite mercy of God toward man, at once the miracle of the atonement (at one ment) and the expectation of the triumphant Easter morning.

Suffering Can Be Endured

Jesus’ physical pain is well documented… But this suffering is amplified by an infinite degree when we take into account the emotional trauma of facing His father’s wrath, a prospect that Jesus said troubled and alarmed Him (Mark 14:34; Luke 22:44).

Yet, Jesus endured. His cry, “It is finished” (John 19:30), was the cry of a victorious athlete crossing the finish line after a grueling contest. Jesus completed His course of atonement. I would never intend to minimize the pain that any of us may experience, but at the same time we can acknowledge that Jesus suffered much more deeply than we ever will, and He endured. So can we. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:3).

Suffering Makes Us Better.

The writer of Hebrews twice makes the point that Jesus’ sufferings contributed to His completeness (2:10 and 5:8-9). This does not mean that Jesus lacked something morally, but that these sufferings completed His qualifications to be our sympathetic high priest.

Suffering can also strengthen our faith and equip us to be servants. The Bible uses three images to describe the suffering of God’s people: a father disciplining his son (Hebrews 12:5-11); a refiner purifying precious metal (1 Peter 1:1-6); and a vinedresser pruning his vine (John 15:2). In each case “pain” is absolutely essential to progress. And in neither case is this pain the result of hatefulness. So when we experience suffering, we should not feel as if God has abandoned us. Rather, we must rejoice that He is going to use these experiences to make us stronger (James 1:2-4).

Suffering Will Not Last Forever.

As deep as Jesus’ anguish was on the cross, it eventually ended. And all along Jesus knew that this temporal suffering would lead to glory (see Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:10-11). If the “joy” of Hebrews 12:2 is His glorification with the Father, then the reason Jesus triumphantly endured His suffering was because He knew it would end and lead to glory.

Paul makes this promise to us: And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17). If we cultivate a heaven-centered, rather than earth-centered perspective of suffering, we can remind ourselves that eternal glory will last forever.

Jesus Christ suffered terribly by us and by only one soul would able to suffer again, if it were necessary. Thanks God it is not necessary, with merits that Jesus won is enough to save thousand of worlds.





THE ABANDONMENT OF JESUS ON THE CROSS

“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:45-46).
Jesus was willing to bear the abandonment of God for our sakes.
Focusing our attention on the word abandonment, which is translated forsaken in some scriptural texts as written in Matthew, we see the helplessness of Jesus not only in his body but in his soul.
God is pure Love, that we know it, God gives us what we do not deserve.
It is an act of pure love on the part of God for sinful man. It is always unearned, undeserved, opposed to works and absolutely free. It is the free, divine, unmerited and undeserved favor of God to sinful men.

How can a holy and righteous God treat us with such grace and love?

There is only one answer. It is found at the foot of the cross of Jesus. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.” That is the result of grace.

“For I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

THE CHARACTER OF JESUS

At the cross we see a great contrast between the holiness of God and the reality of human depravity and sin at its worst. At the cross we see manifest the pure love of God and the hatred of religious leaders.

Jesus was led away at the conclusion of six trials during the night. Like a lamb being led away for slaughter we see Jesus as “they bound Him, and led Him away, and delivered Him up to Pilate the governor” (Mat. 27:2). Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah writing seven hundred years earlier (53:7).

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.”

Jesus was innocent. Judas who had betrayed him earlier in the night came to his senses and in remorse threw the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (vv. 3-4) and then he went out and hanged himself.

Jesus was totally intimidated by the accusations of the chief priests and elders. The governor asked him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” (v. 11) As a seasoned military man Pilate took one look at Jesus and knew He was no “King of the Jews” in a political sense.

He knew a culprit when he saw one and this Galilean was not the kind of leader who could overthrow the Romans. What kind of a king is it that has no soldiers and no financial means of sustaining a government? Here was a Jewish carpenter standing before him. If Jesus said “yes” He would give the Roman governor the idea that He was claiming to be an earthly king, but to say “no” would deny the fact that He was King in the kingdom of God. Jesus was a king, but not in the political sense that Pilate understood it. He avoided political overtones in His answer to Pilate. Jesus is the king of the Jews.

“And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer” (v. 12). Pilate was surprised at the silence of Jesus and asked, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” Still Jesus “did not answer him with regard to a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed” (vv. 13-14). Jesus is in absolute command throughout even though He says hardly a word. Prisoners on trial for their lives would normally have been very vocal and refuted their accusers aggressively.

Even Pilate’s superstitious wife sent to him a message while he was in the judgment hall saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in horrible way in a dream because of Him” (v. 19).
The disciple Simon Peter who witnessed the events that dreadful day later wrote: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:21-24).

THE CHARACTER OF HUMAN BEING IS REVEALED AGAINST JESUS.

If at the cross we see the holy character of Jesus revealed we also see in contrast the human depravity at its worst. Only Romans had the power to put men to death in Judea. The Jewish leaders had to bring Jesus to Roman authorities and manipulate them to accomplish their deceit.

The thing that is hard to comprehend is the fact that these were religious leaders who were instigating the hatred toward Jesus.
“Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away, and delivered Him up to Pilate the governor” (vv. 1-2).
These religious leaders planned their strategy to make sure that Jesus would be put to death. They came to their decision during the night to put Jesus to death. By Jewish law the sentencing had to be done in daytime.
So the highest Jewish assembly of the land came together to ratify the decision they made during the night. It was a mockery of justice.

These were the best-educated, eminent, politically successful, high minded, moral leaders in the community who met to make their plans on how they would put Jesus to death. But ethically and morally they were rotten inside. Pilate “knew that because of envy they had delivered” Jesus up to him (v. 18). They were not concerned with true justice but in the execution of Jesus.

With mob action they take charge and manipulate the Roman governor. Pilate thought he could match wits with these deceitful manipulators.
He came up with the ingenious idea of saving face by offering to release to the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted (v. 15).
He was holding in prison “a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.” Pilate thought surely they are sensible, high-minded people who want justice to rule. He offered them a choice. Surely they would choose this innocent man Jesus instead of an insurrectionist.

“When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” (v. 19).

“But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and to put Jesus to death” (v. 20).

Perhaps it is true that Barabbas’ name was Jesus Bar Abbas. Although far from unanimous, a number of translators prefer to translate, “Jesus Barabbas.” There is manuscript evidence for the name “Jesus Barabbas.”
If it was in the original the scribes may have left it out of their copies out of reverence for Jesus the Messiah. If so the contrast becomes even stronger.

Who do you want me to release to you Jesus bar Abbas or Jesus the Messiah?

The crowd shouted, " Barabbas.”

Pilate persisted, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas” (v. 21).

Pilate still persistent, trying to get himself off the hook, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” Then they all yelled, “Let Him be crucified!” (v. 22).

Pilate responded, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they kept on shouting all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” (v. 23). The governor must have thought surely ordinary people would side with Jesus rather than a known criminal like Barabbas.
But then the crowd could not to make up its own mind, because of The Jewish leaders who insisted.
These persuaded the crowd and if it boiled down to a choice between believing a Jewish leader and a Roman governor, Pilate had no chance.

Pilate realized that nothing more could be done. Undoubtedly he had been acting on the assumption that he would have no problem releasing Jesus. The question was decided by mob hysteria. He saw that a riot was breaking out so he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves” (v. 24; cf. Deut. 21:6-9).

“And all the people answered sand said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’” (v. 26).

In the Old Testament “blood” refers to a violent death such as murder or execution. He tries to relieve his own guilt saying, “This is something for which you will have to answer. I am not responsible for this man’s death.”

Pilate released Barabbas and turned Jesus the Messiah over to be crucified. As Pilate had done on previous occasions he caved in to the pressures of the Jewish leaders.

“Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified” (v. 26). “And when they had crucified Him . . .” (v. 35).

The crucifixion took place at Golgotha, translated the place of the “skull” perhaps because it took the shape of a skull off in the distance. The word Calvary comes through the Latin calvaria, meaning skull.

THE HELPLESSNESS OF ABANDONMENT

Anyone is agree that the word abandon is a word that can be associated with helplessness. I looked up this word in the Webster Dictionary and found this meaning, “To give up (something) completely ... to leave; forsake; desert.” Each of these terms depict what happened to Jesus on the cross. The Father left Him, forsook Him, deserted Him, and yes, abandoned Him to die alone on a cruel cross. Sure, as it has been written, “He could have called ten thousand angels to destroy the world and set men free ... but He died alone for you and me.”
Nevertheless, He was willing to be abandoned for our sakes.

Think about it, then, about this whole idea of abandonment. Think about a little helpless baby being left on the door step of a stranger, abandoned by its parents. Think about a newspaper report telling the story of an elderly man being abandoned on a busy street corner confined to a wheel chair.
In each situation, the person abandoned was left in a helpless estate. This is a mere sampling of the many persons around the world who are abandoned each year. Think about the many elderly persons who are abandoned and left in nursing homes to die. This is what call the helplessness of abandonment.

The helpless condition, and those who feel helpless, can in no way compare to the helplessness and abandonment that our Savior experienced on the cross.
He was at nine o’clock on Friday morning, nailed to a cross, hanging between two thieves, dying a horrible death. As horrific as the pain must have been, the worst part of the terrible ordeal, according to His words from the cross, was the abandonment of His Heavenly Father.

EMOTIONAL SUFFERING OF JESUS

There was also the intense emotional suffering of Jesus. Nothing could have prepared Him for the emotional evils heaped upon Him that day.

Roman soldiers gathered around Jesus in the Praetorium and “they stripped Him, and put a scarlet robe on Him” (vv. 27-28). This robe was a short military cloak which kings and emperors as well as soldiers wore.
Then they wove a “crown of thorns” and pressed it on His head, “and a reed in His right hand; and they kneeled down before Him and mocked Him, saying ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’” (v. 29). The soldiers made mockery of the King of kings in their trappings of royalty.

The last of King David’s dynasty was wrapped in a symbol of our sins so we could be clothed in His perfect righteousness. He was crowned with a “crown of thorns” the one who alone is worthy of many crowns.
They had waited a thousand years for the arrival of the King of the Jews and when He came they crucified Him. What an insult to the King of Glory. To add insult to injury they put a banner over His head, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS” (v. 37).

They showed their contempt and hatred by spitting upon His naked body and took the reed and began to continually beat Him on the head (v. 30).
They insulted the king of kings by putting a stick in his hands as a royal scepter. “After they had mocked Him, they took His robe off and put His garments on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him” (v. 31).

The crucified were hung naked on the cross. When the Roman soldiers lifted Him up on the cross they took His garments and divided them up among themselves and sat down to keep watch over at His naked bleeding body as if to prevent His friends from rescuing Him from the cross (vv. 35-36).

They considered Jesus the worst of the criminals so they crucified Him with two robbers, one on the right and one on the left. Isaiah had poetically written centuries earlier the awesome truth of this day.

The humiliation of the crucifixion would be bad enough, but the passersby came up “hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying ‘You who destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down form the cross’” (v. 39-40). Spectators coming and going from the city made good of their insults and kept up their of blasphemy of Jesus.

The moving by nodding the head toward the cross was a contemptuous gesture of scorn and insult. They sneeringly suggested that this was the end of the Messiah. To show their derision they tossed their heads at Him as an insult.

“If you are the Son of God,” reminds us of the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry (Matt. 4:3, 6). “If you really are God’s Son, then free yourself and come down from the cross!”

The chief priests, scribes and elders keep stirring up the crows saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down from the cross, and we shall believe in Him. ‘He trusts in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He takes pleasure in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God’” (v. 42).
It is surprising that religious people of their prominence should be present at a crucifixion, much less on the Day of Preparation for the Passover.

He stayed on the cross because He was the Son of God.

This abusive rabble went on for three hours and then God pulled the curtain on the show. Suddenly supernatural “darkness fell upon the last until the ninth hour (3 p.m.)” (v. 45).
It was divine intervention. Darkness is associated with judgment in the Old Testament prophets (Isa. 5:30; 13:10-11; Joel 3:14-15).
A hush of silence fell over the land as the divine sufferer hung there in humiliation and shame as God judged sin.

SPIRITUAL SUFFERING OF JESUS

The physical and emotional suffering doesn’t tell us all the story. There was an intense spiritual suffering on the cross. It was about three in the afternoon when Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” (v. 46; cf. Ps. 22:1).

The word “forsaken” here means as it was said before: “to leave,” “down, in.” Hence it mans “to forsake someone” in a state of defeat, or helplessness, or in the midst of hostile circumstances. It has the idea of leaving someone, abandoning, deserting, leaving in straits, to leave helpless or to let one down. It is the anguish of god-forsakenness.

Now the most intense form of suffering takes place on the cross. The sinless, righteous Son of God is dying as a spiritual sacrifice for our sins.
Why had God the Father forsaken God the Son?
This is part of the terrible price of putting away sin!

In that moment the weight of the sins of all humanity from eternity to eternity fell on Jesus. The combined sins of the entire world, of all the accumulated sins of everyone who had ever lived, and everyone who would ever live, were laid on the One individual who never experienced sin.

“Why?”

“He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Isaiah in his powerful poem of the Suffering Servant eloquently writes:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

In verse ten the prophet goes on to tell us that Christ was the offering for our sin:

“But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.”

This divine “guilt offering” was the sacrifice paid by the soul of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh by submitting to the violent death on the cross.
By His death to all who will come to Him and put their trust in Him, cleans up the guilt or debt and sets them free.
This Suffering Servant of Yahweh is the end of all the Jewish sacrifices.
He is the satisfaction of the justice of God. He is the climax of all the sacrifices in the Old Testament.
This is why He had to die.

Matthew tells us that after Jesus had cried those awesome words from the cross He “cried out with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit” (v. 50).
He died. It was customary for the Romans to leave a crucified body on the cross until it was rotted. Pilate conceded to the religious customs of the Jews and allowed the bodies to be taken down. Post mortem set in and they took Him down from the cross and buried Him in a tomb not far away.

St. Augustine correctly said, “He gave up His life because He willed it, when He willed it, and as He willed it.” Even in His death he was sovereign and He had control over it.

A group of Roman soldiers were assigned by Pilate to stand guard at the tomb. They closely guarded the grave to prevent anyone from stealing the body. The Jewish leaders wanted impartial guards, Romans, not temple guards posted at the tomb.
A group of Roman soldiers were stationed there and made the tomb secure by putting a rope over the stone and then a seal of wax with an insignia of the Jewish authorities was attached to it. They put their mark on it so as to know if the stone was moved. They left the soldiers there to guard the tomb.

Matthew is not telling us that the divine Spirit departed from Jesus before He died. He is no Gnostic. To “give up the spirit” is a Hebrew idiom that simply means Jesus died. We use the expression in English, “to breathe one’s last.”

THE CONCLUSION

There were all kinds of reactions that day to what transpired on the cross. People reacted in various ways such as they do today. The response of the people was varied. For some it was a time of amusement. They passed by to entertain themselves. “And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ And immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, ‘Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him’” (vv. 47-49).

The crucifixion for some persons it was a show. Let’s see the gladiators tonight. Let’s see if this one is really Son of God.

An experienced executioner was terribly frightened at the evens that day. “Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (v. 54).

The Roman soldiers, seeing and experiencing all the events of the trials and execution of this righteous man declared what the unbelieving Jews refused to admit, Jesus really is the Son of God.
till there were others that day who reached out and ministered to Jesus. “Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus” (vv. 55-57). Joseph took the body down from the cross, after Pilate had Jesus certified dead, “and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away” (v. 60).

They sealed the stone in the presence of the guard, and then left them to keep watch. The guards were witness of the sealing. The sealing was performed by stretching a cord across the stone and fastening it to the rock at either end by means of sealing clay.

When God raised Jesus from the dead He demonstrated His sovereignty over the powers of the Jews and the Romans. The Lord God reigns!

After Jesus had risen from the dead three days later many worshipped Him. Those who came to continue with His burial were told, “I know you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as he said, Come, see the place where He was lying. . . And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him” (28:5-6, 9).

The resurrection is the undeniable demonstration and evidence of the fact that the suffering servant has accomplished His work. He had provided salvation by going to the cross and dying for us. God now reaches down to us sinners and offers us salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

The curtain separating the holy place from the most holy of holies was torn from top to bottom (Ex. 26:31-35; 40:21). God tore it in two! He opened a way into His presence for all who will believe on Jesus as their only means of salvation.

The resurrection of Jesus brought about the resurrection of His people (vv. 52-53). The rending of the temple veil makes it clear that the only way to God is open to all who come. Moreover, the raising of the dead saints declares that death has been conquered. Here is a promise of the great final resurrection of those who die “in Christ.”

GOD CALL US, OUR RESPONSE TODAY.

What is our response to the death of the Son of God?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
No one can ever say God does not love him or her. He has demonstrated that love once and for all in sending His sinless son to die on the cross for your sins. God loves you and has demonstrated the love for human being.

Jesus did not come and die for good people. He came and died for sinners.
He died for those of us who need the health of the soul and are excluded of the society. God’s expectations of us that we help them.
He died for those of us who have offended Him. The truth is we are so condemned that there is nothing that you or I can ever do to merit or gain salvation.

All of our goodness is as dirty, soiled, filthy rags. They soil anything they touch. Anything we touch brings condemnation.
Our sins are so deep, so bad they need surgical treatment for a permanent cure. Isaiah wrote in 1:6,

“From the sole of the foot even to the head,
There is nothing sound in it,
Only bruises, welts and raw wounds,
Not pressed out or bandaged,
Nor softened with oil.”

This is why Jesus went to the cross. You and I needed radical spiritual surgery to solve our problems.
That is how sinful we are in God’s eyes. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6, 8).

Because Jesus went to the cross and died for all of us God now offers us salvation. It is His free gift to you and any human being.
It is already paid in full. There are no strings attached, no manipulations, no gimmicks, etc. All you have to do is humble yourself and receive it.
This humilliation is softly and full of love like God himself.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” The apostle Paul wrote, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (10:9-10).

What will you do with Jesus today?
Always remember: God is a Loving Father and his children arrive at love him dearly.

Thank very much to: abideinchrist.com

Stations of the cross. The Lord's Passion.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

The glories of Heaven

The Physical suffering and agony of Jesus on the Cross--->
<---The mysteries of kingdom of Heaven


Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. Matthew (25:34)
.. I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly "(John 10:10).

These phrases so full of joy and happiness are very encouraging and every believer wants to hear from the lips of Jesus Christ the King of the universe, where all the saints and the righteous finally, and forever will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
A place that nobody knows how exactly, but Jesus gives us enormous hope when he says about Heaven, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor is it in the mind of man, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2: 9).

A place that nobody knows how exactly is, but Jesus gives us enormous hope when he says about Heaven, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor is it in the mind of man, what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2: 9).

Attempt to describe the indescribable with words that can not nearly express the glory of Heaven. God has done all things well, where you look at everywhere, you see the perfect work of creation; mountains, flowers , birds , skies, clouds , sun, plants, landscapes , seas, rivers. So many wonders that exist in the universe and so many others we don´t even imagine. We admire and watch with open mouth a beatiful landscape, then, we expect that Heaven is something much better something not imagined, something that the human mind can not imagine . It will be a surprise for all those who love God, something neither the smartest nor the wisest can describe.

God has wanted it to be a pleasant surprise and huge what Heaven will be because he has not been revealed to anyone. The believer and faithful to God must have hope and believe in his word that you will be more beautiful, marvelous, more that admirable. No human words to define what Jesus told us about Heaven.

THE BLESSING OF THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN

No need to be on the altar of a church to get into heaven, anyone who has the enormous grace to go to heaven after death, is already a saint. If there is blame to pay, must be purified from all sin, and that's why is the purgatory, purification is so perfect that makes everyone who leaves the place of atonement is holy forever in the glory of God.

The Saints also receive the blessings of Heaven from two different perspectives. First place will receive the freedom to live in Heaven. Second place will receive an accurate understanding of what is eternal bliss of the soul and its salvation from hell . This act will make the person (soul ) experiences a huge gratitude to God for having spared the eternal punishment of hell.
Those who go to heaven will not suffer the wrath of God (but does fall on those who go to hell). Are free "from the wrath to come " (I Thessalonians 1:10.

The soul will be greatly and eternally grateful to God with songs of thanksgiving and eternal praise to his Creator for having spared the eternal death of hell . The dwellers of Heaven will be free of sin, the cause of sin , and the consequences of sin.
Sin is the cause of all the world's misery. Sin is the reason why humans experience pain, sorrow, disease, hatred, jealousy, envy, disunity and even death.

Saint Paul is mourning sin and expressed in the strongest language his desire to be released from it:
Miserable me! Who will deliver me from this body of death "( Romans 7:24).
The true child of God fervently desires to live forever in a place away from sin: a place where he will never commit another sin, a place where will never have another sinful thought. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh . These are opposed to each other, to not do the things that ye would ( Galatians 5:17).

Heaven is the place where will not exist more neither death nor sin. This is beautifully depicted in Revelation 21:3-4; "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God will wipe every tear from the eyes, and there will be no death, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things are passed away.

In heaven you will be free from the temptations of the devil. Here on earth, the enemy of souls assails men daily. Here "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil , as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour " (I Peter. 5: In the land of the devil tries to tempt the same way he tried to make Peter.

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone , where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10). "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Romans 16:20).

In Heaven there will be no devil to tempt the saints with sin anymore. In Heaven, the saints will be free from the lusts of the world. These are described by John as " the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not from the Father but from the world. " (I John 2:16 ).

In heaven the saint will be free from the evil influence of the world, because they has defeated the world forever with the blood of Jesus Christ.
The eternal bliss of the soul in heaven, is as Paul said, "Now we see through a glass darkly" (I Corinthians 13:12). Indeed, the picturing we now trying to describe is dark compared to true glory of Heaven.

Who can imagine the things we now attempt to describe Heaven?

"We will never understand glory fully until we are in Heaven. Trying to say a few blurry and dark ideas, just a few strokes of the imperfect state of glory which the saints arrive after death."

The blessing of the soul in the glory consisting of at least three things:

1) See God such as he is.

2) The perfection of graces in the believer.

3) The fullness of eternal bliss.

1st. - SEE GOD SUCH AS HE IS

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

The saints in heaven will see God in all His majesty. They witness the infinite glory of the Almighty in such enormous magnitude as they are able to conceive. They will not be present only to the distance, but "face to face" (I Corinthians 13:12).

In this mainly involves the blessing of the saints in glory: to be in front to God. It is impossible for a finite human being can understand God. Revelation 22:5 describes some of the glory of seeing God:

There will be never more the darkness of night, there and they need no light of lamp or sunlight, for the Lord God gives them light;. Reign forever and ever".

The glory of God will dissipate sunlight as now the brilliance of the sun dispels the darkness of night.
The Father will not manifest directly in Heaven because we are we told in the Scriptures that God is invisible: "Therefore the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever ever. Amen. "(I Timothy 1:17).

It has been said of Christ, "He is the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). Father need not manifest itself in any other way than with the glory and majesty of the exalted Christ. The Lord said to his disciples on the night before his death: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

Jonathan Edwards was a theologian, congregational pastor and missionary to Native Americans during the colonial era. It is known as one of the largest and deepest theologians in the history of the United States, and defined Christ this way: "God is glorified in the body of Christ is the most perfect way that may be to see God with bodily eyes, that one of the Persons of the Trinity has assumed a true body to be His body, and in which dwells forever like Himself, the divine majesty and excellence appear as much as possible to be expressed in outer shape or in figure.

They will see Him with their bodily eyes , in His glorified human nature, and this will be one of the most glorious visions . The love of Christ manifested well be one of the most delectable things for them because, although the bodies of the saints shine with extreme beauty and glory, yet undoubtedly the body of Christ infinitely surpass both as sunshine relative to the stars.

The glory of the body of Christ will be the masterpiece of God's hand in all of the material universe. In His glorious body His glorious spiritual perfections, His majesty, His holiness, His exultant mercy and love and gentleness will manifest. The eye never tire of contemplating this ineffable and glorious perfection."

Not only they will see Christ face to face, but they will walk and talk with Him. Christ treated them as brothers and speak to them as close friends . Just before his crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples : " No longer do I call you servants , for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth : but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from my Father I have made known "( John 15:15 ).

If Christ could say this to his disciples while they were still wrapped in their sinful nature, don´t you think that, He will admit them in Heaven when they have completely purged of all stain and iniquity and be present at his great throne with their clothes purified with His blood?

Certainly. The Scriptures speak of the life of God among His people in glorious terms: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God ... and see His face, and His name shall be in their foreheads "(Revelation 21:3, 22:4).

2nd .- PERFECTION OF GRACES IN THE BELIEVER

Secondly, those who are accepted in Heaven enjoy the perfection of all His graces.

It is analyzed three specific graces:

1st) The grace of knowledge.

2nd) The grace of holiness.

3rd) The grace of love.

First, the grace of knowledge will be perfected in glory. "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, then that which is in part shall be done away now we see in a mirror dimly,.. But then face to face with the Creator now I know in part, but then I know even as also I am known. "(I Corinthians 13:9-10, 12).

Our knowledge of divine things is now sparse and vague. We do not perceive things clearly. We are slow in our understanding. We know then, as Christ knows us now. The grace of wisdom will be perfect in the saints in heaven. The saint will fully understand Christ as mediator between God and men.

They will understand the mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus, the man who becomes God . In such great magnitude as possible , the saints in glory will understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Understand the plan of salvation of souls and how they worked Divine Providence in all the circumstances of their lives.

There all the difficulties, trials , and dark providences of life will be considered as evidencing entities glorious that will give witness in truth that " those who love God all things work together for good " (Romans 8:2).

Understand the excellencies of Christ-Divinity degree as full as they are able . The knowledge of God will be quite full , with all its divinities , they will know God fully . Human beings here on earth can never fully comprehend the Divine Essence of God.
The grace of holiness will be perfect in all the glory they receive . "We know that when He (Jesus ) shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2). That´s to say, we will really know who Jesus Christ is, the Living God, with all its power and all its glory.

Holiness is the transcendent beauty of God and angels. Holiness is a primary attribute of God.

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts ( Isaiah 6:03 ) is the cry of the seraphim who constantly attend in glory of heaven.
In heaven holiness will be perfect in the believer and sin will not exist anymore ...
Then the words of God will reach their full meaning: "Be holy, because I am holy. " (I Peter 1:16). Holiness is the fervent desire of the saint who travels through this world of sin . There, the Saints are as the angels of God. There, as much as possible , they shall become as Christ himself. They shall be holy for all eternity.

In Heaven the grace of God's love is perfect. In the land of God's love is expressed in low and intermittent form. Flesh of sin and selfishness of men obstruct the love of God. We can not love God as he is deserve or even as we would like.
Although the spirit of the son of God desires with all his inner strength to do what the Scripture says : " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" ( Deuteronomy 6 : 5) this can not be done perfectly here on earth.

But as He in his heart wishes to do so, God's desire of believer valid as if the action was done perfect form. In heaven, God's love will flow without interference as no one has ever experienced on earth. God will be totally and completely loved in their saints, they will love each others without any presence of expureos desires or selfishness.

3rd - THE FULLNESS OF ETERNAL GRACE

Third, those who enter in Heaven will experience the fullness of joy. "Show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11).

The fullness of joy could be described as experiencing the immense love of God, generous as the waters of an ocean. Others, who have a much better understanding of this issue, which have been described in this way:
"His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of thy Lord" (Matthew 25:21.

The vision of God, of amorous God , and to be loved by God will cause an outpouring of joy in the spirit , and will create such holy ecstasy of joy in the elect, which is simply unspeakable and full of glory. He will be a loving father and his children will love him dearly.

They will see in him all what the love wants. The love desires the love of the beloved. The saints in glory shall see the transcendent love of God for them, . .God will do Ineffable manifestations of love for them. It will be an marvelous and unique spectacle of love of God toward all the elects in heaven.

"They will see so much love in God towards them, as they wish,or they may desire more ... when they see to God such glorious, and see at the same time how greatly God loves them, what a treat this will not cause the soul".

Love desires the union. So they will see this glorious God that joined them completly. They will see that He is their Father, and they are his children. They shall see God present with them gloriously ; God with them, and God in them and they in God.
Love desires the possession of its object. So they will see God, even as their own God, when they witness this transcendent glory of God, will see it as their own, will cling to God, and never, never want to be separated from Him.

"The one in glory of heaven shall enjoy God as their capacity allows.
The Psalmist wrote of the great blessing that involved the worship of God in his temple:
"Blessed are those who dwell in your house; will eternally praise you.
Because sun and shield is Jehovah God. Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.." (Psalm 84:4, 11).

Those in heaven will say: "that blessed are those who are in the presence of God himself!"

If the Lord God refuses nothing to those who turn to Him on earth, then will deny any glory of Heaven to His redeemed children?
Here on earth we enjoy God especially through his word, worship, and prayer. There we will enjoy Him "face to face." "Here you have God in expectation, but in Heaven you will have Him in possession."
There the saints in glory will be filled with joy with the eternal enjoyment of the manifestation of God in all His attributes.
There, will increase greatly the joy and exhilaration of the glorified when contemplating God's mercy shown towards them in salvation and how they deserved for their sins have been among the damned of hell, but were saved from the torments of hell only by Mercy sovereign of God who were granted in eternal salvation, and were accepted by them!.

The key of salvation is in accept the salvation that God offer us before we leave the body in this world, before dying.

The ministers of the Church will rejoice with those that led to the knowledge of Christ and the fruits of their work will be seen there completely. Paul writes of this infinite joy in I Thessalonians 2:19.

"For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?

Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?"

Other things will undoubtedly contribute to the joy of heaven, as being with loved ones we had here on earth and the saints of all times, by contemplating the providences of God towards them in the land, being already in the divine city, but the greatest joy of all will be to be in front of Him, in front of his presence!!

DIFFERENT DEGREES OF GLORY IN HEAVEN

All the inhabitants of Heaven, ie all the saints, are eternally happy, enjoy a joy and a peace not known on earth, the peace of Jesus Christ. All have their needs satisfied, there is any lack, and that makes them extremely happy. Everyone has what they deserve in fair measure and know by divine justice that does not deserve more and gladly accepts it.

All are very happy, but some enjoy of the Glories more than others. In Heaven there are different degrees of glory.
Those who worked more for the kingdom and glory of God here on earth receive greater honor and glory in Heaven.
The first evidence we have different degrees of glory comes from what is sometimes called the law of opposition.

Are there different degrees of torment in hell?

Yes it is so, then by the law of opposition, could logically deduce that there will be different degrees of glory in Heaven.
In Luke 12:47-48 we speak of those who "receive many lashes" and those who "receive only a few."
There are different degrees of punishment in hell, so we conclude that we also have varying degrees of sanctification in heaven. II Corinthians 5:10 and I Corinthians 3:8 gives us the basis for the difference:

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done while in the body, ie in this world, whether good or bad."

THE CASE OF THE EQUALITY OF REWARD IN HEAVEN

According to our procedure in this world, every faithful follower of Jesus Christ receives the best gift of all, eternal life. The only question is whether there is an additional reward awaited by some of us. Those who say that God rewards each saved christian alike, sometimes indicate a specific parable of Jesus to support his argument: Matthew 20:1-15.

"For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
And he went out about the third hour, and saw standing in the square to others who were out of work , and told them: "Go ye also into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is right." And they were.

He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth, and did the same.
And he went about the eleventh hour, he found others standing around, and said, "Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?" They said. " Because no one has hired us," he said, "Go ye also into the vineyard."

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, "Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning from the last unto the first."
When those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius.
And when those came who were hired first, they thought they would receive more, and they likewise received every man a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying:

"These last worked only one hour, but have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day"
But he answering said to one of them, 'Friend, I do thee no wrong;
Did you not agree with me for a denarius "Take what is yours and go?;
but I want to give to this last the same as you.
Is it not right to do what I will with mine own? Or are you envious because I am generous?".

"Every man shall receive his own reward according to his work for the Kingdom of God." Obviously the rewards are promised to all believers and their different degrees of glory, wich will be the equivalent to the work done for God here on earth.

Peter asks Jesus, "Behold, we have left all and followed thee: what shall we receive" (Matthew 19:27).
Jesus assures Peter that the Jewish disciples will have authority in the kingdom but also tells Peter that many others who come to the truth after them, will also be in the kingdom.

Scripture speaks of those who receive " the reward of a prophet " (Matthew 10:41) which seems to distinguish as different from the ordinary reward. Christ taught his disciples that whoever gives them " a glass of water " in its name will not go unrewarded (Mark 9:41).
This would not be possible if there was no recognition of good works in heaven.

In another section of Scripture is recognized quite clearly that there will be differences among believers in glory. Says the prophet Daniel that " shall shine as the brightness of the firmament . , And they that turn many to righteousness will be like the stars forever and ever " (Daniel 12:3).

And Saint Paul compares the difference between the sun, moon , and stars and applied to believers in the glory of heaven:
"There is one glory of the sun , and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory. So also will be the resurrection of the dead. " (I Corinthians 15:41-42 ).

Paul is simply saying that while a star shines more brightly than other in the sky thus, a holy shall shine with a glory more divine than another when the dead arise to receive payment for the deeds done in this life.

One will be more glorious and will enjoy more of that glory over another based on how he lived, what he has done for the Kingdom of Christ, who has done in assistence of our brothers in need while living on earth.

This is taught of diaphanous form in parable of the talents, where a man had authority over ten cities and other on five ( Luke 19:12-19 ).

"The saints are like many containers of different sizes thrown into the sea of ​​happiness where each container is filled: this is eternal life, where a man has his full capacity. But after all containers are admitted to the sovereign kingdom of God , God applies his prerogative to determine the size of the container."

Each person will be filled according to their capacity of holiness and joy. No one will lack anything. But some will have a greater capacity for joy than others. Some theologians explain the glory as follows;

"despite of having degrees of glory, however, this does not imply that has defect or desire (lack ) of glory in Heaven to any glorified persons, simply each person will be just as full of glory as he is able to receive."

This is explained in a clearer demonstration. Take a small bowl and a large container and throw them at sea, both bowls will be full, yet there is no so much capacity in the small bowl as in big one, but both are full.

So says the saint is like two containers, however, as if they were one, because of the enjoyment of God, but one is more spacious to take more than God than the other, but still, the less holy will be full of glory of God;
He who has less glory, will have enough glory, though not equal glory than any another glorified saint. So those degrees of glory pose no defect in those people who have less glory of those than have more.

All containers are full, but of different sizes. All glories will wear crowns, some with greater luster than others. The holiness and happiness will be greater in some than others throughout eternity.

IMPORTANT FACTORS OF GLORY OR REWARD

The presence of different degrees of glory in heaven can come to the thought that there could be some envy in Heaven for the degrees of glory that many of our brothers will enjoy eternally. Here on earth this is possible because of our imperfect humanity and by existing sin among us, more in Heaven that is impossible.

All love will be perfect in heaven, the degrees of happiness you will experience every being is according to what is fair measure deserves it and knows by justice he does not deserve more.
It stands to reason that if a person here on earth, suffered persecution in their body or in spirit, struggled to keep his body and soul in a state of purity, by rejecting all impure sexual act or not allowed, within marriage or gave his life for the needy, sick, lonely, leaving everything and going to foreign lands, it is right that such person receives in Heaven degrees extraordinaries of happiness because of his devotion for God's sake.

God greatly compensates for the sacrifice and the dedication in favor to the others. Consider the delivery of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her extraordinary work on behalf of the poor.
And it will be like the Apostle Paul wrote. "So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it is, and if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (I Corinthians 12:26).

The saints in glory will think it is right that those who stood out among others in works of justice, gave their lives by love thy neighbor and sought the glory of God on earth should receive greater glory in heaven. Men will bless God by irradiating of his glory shining through other men, because envy and sin will have no place in the Kingdom of God.

To all believers in Christ, your eternal state in heaven is the result of what you do here on earth."But this I say:
He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. And he who sows bountifully will also collect" (II Corinthians 9:6).

Are you looking for an eternity with the greatest degree of happiness possible?

So, live your life from now on completely oriented to the greater glory of God. Tomorrow may be too late. Your present life determine your future to the glory of heaven. To guide those who seek a better future life is imperative to start with a spiritual life oriented towards good of others.

We must be steadfast in prayer, without prayer there is no holiness!.

He who begin a good work without prayer soon will tire and abandon all, will find confusion, contradictions, and immediately will leave everything unfinished.

He who clinging to prayer constantly, daily, never is confused, never gets lost, never leaves the work begun, indeed, finds solution to all problems and strength necessary in prayer. Through constant prayer get wisdom and understanding of God. Daily prayer is a communication with the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus, and never we will be confused, will understand what God wants from us and will obtain humility, quite important for sainthood.

The Saints got these qualities to go to Heaven; prayer, wisdom, understanding and humility much humility.
So, ask God in daily and constant prayer; wisdom, understanding and humility.

SOME DEGREES OF GLORY OR REWARD
1 - GRADES OF MERCY AND HOLINESS HERE ON EARTH


Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Anyone wishing to obtain mercy in heaven should practice it in this world. And for this, as we all want mercy, we must act so that it becomes our advocate in this world, to get us free in the future. There is a mercy in heaven, which is reached through the earthly mercy. It says, in effect, Scripture:
Lord, thy mercy reach heaven.

We have knowing that we have to account for all our good and bad deeds, words, thoughts, gestures or intentions, indeed, all good things have a reward. A religious sister was surprised to discover (when went heaven ) that every smile, every kind reply, every prayer for someone in need, every good deed toward our brethren, is recorded in Heaven and receives an award!.

"He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of these, you did for me " (Mt. 25:45 ) . God has given us different ministries each. Some are privileged to devote our time to the ministry of the Word of God and prayer (Acts 6:4 ) . We can think of that a priest in front of his faithfuls has greater advantage to go to Heaven, but that's not true . Those who has received more, more will have to account.

It is not good that we compare with each other, because always end up thinking that we are superior to others or inferior to them. On earth, we received praise very differently to as it is in heaven.
The heaven gives value to rewards according to the type of person we are . It comes down to our daily lives.
In Proverbs 16:32 we find: "Better is he that is slow to anger than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city."

In other words, if we control our spirit, we are better than those who have conquered a city, or who have achieved great things. We may prophesy "vehemently" but the apostle Paul said that if we do not have love, is useless (1 Cor 13:2). The words of our mouth and our attitudes are much more important in the sky that the way we preach or teach. God measures us based on our attitude toward others and our relationships with others.

Practise ye, therefore mercy in this world, and will receive the heavenly mercy.
The poor ask for, and you ask for God, poor one bite, you the eternal life.
Give to the poor, and will deserve receive to Christ, because he said: Give, and it shall be given. I do not understand how dare you expect to receive, if you refuse to give. So, when you go in to the church, give alms to the poor all you can, according to your possibilities. (St. Cesareo Arles).

DEGREES OF GOODNESS MADE

Being kind perfects the spirit of a person, because you know give and give others without fear of being defrauded by others, giving support and encouragement to all around him. Often the concept of kindness is mistaken for weakness, no one likes to be the "long-suffering" in their work, of whom everybody take advantage of him.
But goodness is exactly the opposite, it is the strength that has to control his character, his passions and his outbursts, to become them in meekness.

It involves an inclination to do good, with a deep understanding of people and their needs, always patient and balanced mood. This value develops in each person the willingness to please to everybody, in fair measure, to all people at all times. Now we can ask:
When do we move away from a kindly attitude?

This is seen in those aggressive attitudes, when we adopt bad manners or ways of talking something arrogant, using words grandiloquent, with reason on our side or not. Also when we adopt an indifferent attitude towards the concerns or concerns with others, deeming them unimportant or as a result of the lack of understanding and ability to solve problems.

Never be considered superior!

In doing so, we become unable to really listen with interest and treat with kindness to all who come to us searching a advice or a solution.

We must understand that goodness does not has measure, is disinterested, so never expect a remuneration . Our actions must be accompanied by a genuine desire to serve, avoiding doing things to look good ... for who is speak well of us. But being kind no means being soft, condescending or indifferent to the injustices those around us. By contrast, the kind is a person who is still vigorous and demanding without leaving of being sympathetic and friendly. Similarly, never responds with insults and contempt for those that mistreat him, thanks the domain he has about his person, try to behave politely despite the adverse and hostile environment.

Goodness perfects the person who takes it as an important value in his life, because their words are full of encouragement and enthusiasm, facilitating friendly and easy communication; given without fear of being cheated, and above all, have the ability to understand helping others and forgetting himself.

The 5 principles of Kindness;

1 - Sow seeds of kindness.

Every time you smile, listens attentively to a friend, give thanks or treat a stranger with courtesy and respect, you are emitting positive energy. This energy causes an impression on the other person who, in turn, will pass to the dozens of people that are in your way. Thus, these positive gestures will have a multiplier effect, ultimately will return to you increased. Remember that it all comes back, the good and the bad.

2nd - Cooperates with everyone equally.

We are all smart enough to be nice to the important people around us every day of our lives, as neighbors, our bosses and even coworkers. However, we do not always care about a stranger to whom we will not see again. Change your posture and begins to treat all people with whom you're going to find as if they were the most important of the world, indeed they are. If not it is for us, yes for someone, and if they are not for today, they may be for tomorrow.

3rd - Having a clear conscience.

Although you are not going to see again the person you have mistreated or noone else has known of your attitudes or your bad behavior, you 're aware that acted badly. Therefore, this bad feeling will be in your mind and in your heart every time you try to convince someone that they can trust you. As you 're betraying yourself, it will be hard you can believe in a person or in a relationship. Remember that consciousness never sleeps, never is silenced, and will haunt you wherever you go.

4rd - Find convince rather than overcome.

Change your inside and tell others what you like instead of what you don´t like.
Do the exercise to redirect conversations to your terrain, for example, instead of saying authoritatively "closes the window", you can replace it with "do you mind if I close the window, or, does not make a bit cold ? ". This way, formulates a question that people can reply, besides converting the fact of closing the window on a shared idea, too, by the other party. This is one of the best ways to get that your own ideas are accepted. Remember that in good friendship, we give glory to God.

5th - Listen to your inner voice.

When you enter into a relationship with someone, an inner voice tells us "he is a good person" or " do not trust her."

How can we make such judgments instantly?

Because we are able to detect nonverbal cues. Pay attention to body language : arms and legs uncrossed, inclination of head to show the interest of what you are telling, and open palms to indicate frankness and receptivity.

Show that you go through life in peace is the best way to plant yourself in front of others from a caring and gentle side. Goodness, will be then a reality contagious, productive and generative of good feelings.

In a hostile world, it's hard to be kind, but is not impossible. Pray a lot for all your achievements, do it with humility and soon you will notice the changes in you.

God rewards in Heaven with glories very important those who have practiced kindness with their brethren here on earth.

Remember that God is Kindly by excellence and infinitely fair to reward you.

DEGREES OF SELF-DENIAL AND SUFFERING

The winners are those who have overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
The term "winner" means that has won a battle. We must overcome in the following areas to emerge triumphant:

The world:

We must overcome the world and its attractions, including the vainglory of life, the acceptance of the people of this world and its temporal rewards. The desire for things and positions in this world is very strong, so even Demas, who was and walked with Paul and changed the promise of eternal life for these things (2 Tim 4:10).

We should not despise the world, which is the work of the generous hand of God, but we must be careful not to drag us astray.

The desires of the flesh:

The flesh includes worldly desires, such as sexual lust, the sexual scandal, the orgies, the wordly desires, promiscuity, base instincts and every kind of sexual immorality.
Within marriage spouses should respect each other, be faithfuls, without deception or lies. Adultery leads to ruin many matrimonies and it occurs in children a lack of love towards his parents, where respect and trust are annihilated. The bad example they shown, it will be reflected in children in future. Spouses will have give an account for such actions. Also includes overeating, and take all the pleasures without measure.

The Devil:

The devil has many followers who practice witchcraft, fortune-telling, horoscopes, divination hands, Egyptian cards, tarot, work with black magic, occultism, spiritualism, the game of the cup, the Ouija, and all who sympathize with the devil are his followers and adepts.

All these wishes should be extinguished in order to become a true spiritual victor.
Other Bible verses that deal with other ways to have a victorious life, found in Romans 5:17, Romans 12:21 and 1 John 2:14.

In Heaven there are awards and high positions of special and extraordinary glory reserved for all these winners.
Consider some examples of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. The winners of the flesh and the devil are at extraordinary high positions, above many in Heaven, with each battle won the devil and the desires of the flesh have glorified God in their bodies and in their attitudes, and as is it fair, God will give them the deserved award.

DEGREES OF EMINENCE IN HUMILITY

The gift of humility saves us from being sucked into a life of self-destruction and evil, and will help us to be more sincere and lasting friendships and deeper and meaningful relationships.
It is extremely important to learn to be humble because we are social beings who need other people´s help in our lives to talking, loving, fun healthily, living and learning about human relationships.
Nobody can be happy if being isolated from others but if we lack humility, we could never relate well with our neighbors and at the end we would be isolated, embittered and unhappy.

Humility is the foundation of healthy human relationships because it keeps everyone in an honest, respectful and peaceful relationship. When someone discover humility, discovers who he is and what the meaning of his life. Will experience joy and will be satisfied with what life gives you without think that deserves more than their peers.

A true Christian will seek to be humble and with God's help, will recognize that God created us all equal, of the same substance of the earth, and gave His life for each of us equally.

Humility comes only with constant prayer. It is a gift that God rewards those who strive daily in this spiritual act. Any prayer is valid for humility, if done with heart and soul.

Remember that the devil will try by all means to stay away from prayer.
He knows how important it is praying, and for this reason will not rest until I see you away from meditation and prayer.
The devil will confuse you and make you doubt its effectiveness and its spiritual value.
The more you praying, the more will be irritated the devil, and the more will pursue you. The persecution will be according to the degree to which you praying.
God will not allow more persecution than you can bear.

Why does God allow that the devil pursue me?

God allows him to some extent, to strengthen your spirit and ends up winning him. Remember that God takes advantage of the devil and use him for your own spiritual good. God always, always ends up winning, and the devil knows this, hence his anger is even greater. Your reward will be extraordinary in Heaven, if you defeat to the devil, and will be for all eternity!.

The praying of the Holy Rosary daily is an important means to get humility and defeat to the devil, our Blessed Mother crushed the head of the serpent, the devil, and fill us with spiritual gifts, including humility and love for prayer.

The Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, and Litany of the Holy Rosary are full of indulgences and spiritual gifts to reach humility and love for God and the Blessed Virgin.

Remember that Mary promised that the devotees of the Rosary shall enjoy a very special glory in Heaven, the same glory of the saints and martyrs alive.

Remember also that Jesus Christ promised that the devotees Stations of the Cross, get in Heaven a blessing and a extraordinary glory that will accompany throughout eternity.

HAPPINESS THAT NEVER ENDS

Here's a summary of what the Catholic Church teaches about the heavenly bliss that will receive the inhabitants of heaven:
All who die in God's grace (state of Grace), after purification in purgatory (remember that all will have to go through purgatory some for a short time, others for a longer time, even those who live in holiness are offered to go the purgatory to comfort all those who suffer most) will have the true joy of living with Christ forever.

They see God such as He is, face to face. Is communion of life and love with the Trinity, the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the heavenly blessed. This is the ultimate object of the deepest human desires and the state of supreme bliss. In heaven, men live with and in Christ, keeping his true identity.

By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ opened heaven to all who choose to accept it, recognize him as the Son of God and only Savior of mankind. Good people to fully benefit of Christ's redemption. Those who have believed in him and remained faithful become sharers in his glory. The heaven is a community of all who have lived in Christ.

BEATIFIC VISION

God is the main object of the human being and will in Heaven. Once there, the inhabitants of Heaven receive the "beatific vision," the ability to see God in all its glory and magnificence. The secondary object of the beatific vision is the knowledge and love of persons whom Christians have known on earth.

Theologians teach that the Church is not a bodily activity, the beatific vision does not require the senses and imagination. The beatific vision and love are the activities of the spiritual faculties of every human being.

Man need a greater dignity and strengthening their spiritual faculties, superiors to the virtues of hope and faith, for enjoy the beatific vision. Lumen gloriae, the light of glory, is the name given to permanent ennoblement of the intellect by which humans can join the Trinity in the beatific vision.

A STATE OF HAPPINESS

Theologians speak of Heaven as a state of happiness. They explain that we exist to glorify God and to find our happiness, but we find our happiness only giving glory to God. In Heaven, the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, glorify God for his participation in the glory of Christ - it is only in Christ that they can do it. Christ is the Temple where God-Father is perfectly united, and the Heaven is his sanctuary.

Because Christ and Virgin Mary are glorified in body, and that a body requires a place to live, the tradition of the Church follows Scripture in which teaching that Heaven is a place. How the Heaven works?. It is a mystery.
It is far beyond what the human being can understand, so that the scriptures describes it in images that humans being can relate them: life, light, peace, wedding feast, wine of the kingdom, Father's house, the heavenly Jerusalem, paradise, power, glory, eternal happiness, etc.

However, all this will exist in the fullest sense only after the Parousia, ie, when all who are saved, will recover their original bodies , the same we had here on earth, but completely glorified.

The essential element in the state of celestial glory is union with the Holy Trinity in the mind and heart, leading to the beatific joy. Those who die in grace of God, possess essential glory , as soon as it has completed its purification. However, the fullness of glory will come to them when they get back their glorified bodies after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Theology teaches that God has intended the human being for eternal bliss. This is his last end, gain happiness.
Therefore, Heaven has to bring man to a state of perfect happiness. The concern here is not the physical satisfaction, true happiness is associated with the fulfillment of the noble aspirations of the soul.

Since forever has been intended for supernatural union with God , the human being does not have other the destination than no be the supernatural.
Thus, their ultimate happiness is union with God. God is the primary object of the beatific vision. Only God is able to meet the human and angelic intellect made ​​for possession of the truth. Only God can satisfy the desires of the human´s heart or angelic will. Without God do not exist happiness. Without God the existence it is a chaos , a state of agony, of pain and suffering permanent. That is the state of the inhabitants of hell.

The infinite perfection of the Holy Trinity and the infinite love of God provide all the inhabitants of Heaven a satisfaction that never ends . This happiness is not at all bored because is not mixed with material pleasure, which , by their nature, can not last. The happiness of heaven is permanent and infinite, it can´t have a anxiety that will decrease or disappear.

THE GLORY OF A NEW BODY

This varies from one person to another, corresponding to the state of the union of the individual with God at the moment of death. It is very important, if you are in agony or sick, ask for a priest to administer the holy oil, it is very important that the person that receive it be consents, that know what will receive.

The martyrs, virgins, chaste, lay people committed to God and faith teachers receive a special mark, a halo denoting their commitment to Christ and his work during his life here on earth.

All the saved enjoys the company of the elect - that is, each one of the blessed are delighted in others, including the Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints.
As they lived on earth, they will obtain affinities with some of the blessed, there will always full agreement of the spirit among all.

Then will come the Resurrection, or restoration of the body. The blessed in heaven have the same bodies they had on earth, however, these bodies will have special features, including the following;

Splendor: the bodies will have a supernatural glow and will make them beautiful to look at.

Agility: it will allow that the glorified bodies move through space in an instant, with incredible mobility.

Subtlety: The complete subordination of the body to the soul, so both they will be perfectly integrated.

Impassivity: The glorified bodies no longer suffering any more, and does not need to eat or sleep to kept it, since suffers no wear.

The renewal of the world along with the restoration of the body, are complete with salvation within of the plan of God. The renewed universe is the ultimate glorification of Christ and contributes to the eternal happiness of the blessed in Heaven.

Some parts have been taken from William C. Nichols. Revised and corrected.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven

The glories of Heaven--->
<---150 reasons why I´m a Catholic

The Kingdom of God has been one of the dominant topics of New Testament study in this century.
The reason is obvious. Many scholars, both conservative and critical, regard the kingdom of God as “the central theme” of Jesus’ public proclamation. In fact, is made the case that Jesus’ teaching was profoundly Jewish, drenched in intense eschatological hope.
This new view contended against nineteenth century views, which moralized the kingdom and made it palatable to modern taste by arguing it was merely an expression of ethical sensitivity raised up in the hearts of men. The concept of the universe as a divine kingdom over which God as King rules sovereignly is a familiar theme in the Scriptures (cp. 1 Chron 29:11-12). The Psalmist for instance wrote: “Jehovah hath established his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all” (Ps 103:19)

Within the universal kingdom of God, however, various subdivisions exist. Matthew 12:26 refers to Satan’s kingdom, i.e., the sphere of rule which God has permitted Satan. The Scriptures also recognize earthly kingdoms over which God has allowed evil men to rule (Dan 4:17). It was this sphere of the kingdoms of this world which Satan offered to Christ when was tempted (Matt 4:8).
In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him.
"Incorporeal things are not in place after a manner known and familiar to us, in which way we say that bodies are properly in place; but they are in place after a manner befitting spiritual substances, a manner that cannot be fully manifest to us." [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Supplement, Q69, a1, reply 1]

WHAT IS HEAVEN EXACTLY?

Heaven is Fullness of Communion with God. Heaven as the fullness of communion with God was the theme of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience of 21 July 1999. Heaven "is neither an abstraction not a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit," the Pope said.

1° - When the form of this world has passed away, (the moment of our death) those who have welcomed God into their lives and have sincerely opened themselves to his love, at least at the moment of death, will enjoy that fullness of communion with God which is the goal of human life.
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "this perfect life with the Most Holy Trinity this communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed is called "heaven'. Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfilment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness" (n.1024).

We will try to understand the biblical meaning of "heaven", in order to have a better understanding of the reality to which this expression refers.

2° - In biblical language "heaven"", when it is joined to the "earth", indicates part of the universe. Scripture says about creation: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gn 1:1).

Heaven is the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God.

Metaphorically speaking, heaven is understood as the dwelling-place of God, who is thus distinguished from human beings (cf. Ps 104:2f.; 115:16; Is 66:1).
He sees and judges from the heights of heaven (cf. Ps 113:4-9) and comes down when he is called upon (cf. Ps 18:9, 10; 144:5). However the biblical metaphor makes it clear that God does not identify himself with heaven, nor can he be contained in it (cf. 1 Kgs 8:27); and this is true, even though in some passages of the First Book of the Maccabees "Heaven" is simply one of God's names (1 Mc 3:18, 19, 50, 60; 4:24, 55).

The depiction of heaven as the transcendent dwelling-place of the living God is joined with that of the place to which believers, through grace, can also ascend, as we see in the Old Testament accounts of Enoch (cf. Gn 5:24)
and Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 2:11). Thus heaven becomes an image of life in God.
In this sense Jesus speaks of a "reward in heaven" (Mt 5:12) and urges people to "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (ibid., 6:20; cf. 19:21).

3° - The New Testament amplifies the idea of heaven in relation to the mystery of Christ. To show that the Redeemer's sacrifice acquires perfect and definitive value, the Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus "passed through the heavens" (Heb 4:14), and "entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself" (ibid., 9:24).
Since believers are loved in a special way by the Father, they are raised with Christ and made citizens of heaven. It is worthwhile listening to what the Apostle Paul tells us about this in a very powerful text: "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:4-7).
The fatherhood of God, who is rich in mercy, is experienced by creatures through the love of God's crucified and risen Son, who sits in heaven on the right hand of the Father as Lord.

4° - After the course of our earthly life, participation in complete intimacy with the Father thus comes through our insertion into Christ's paschal mystery. St Paul emphasizes our meeting with Christ in heaven at the end of time with a vivid spatial image: "Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thes 4:17-18).

Sacramental life is the anticipation of heaven.

In the context of Revelation, we know that the "heaven" or "happiness" in which we will find ourselves is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but a living, personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our meeting with the Father which takes place in the risen Christ through the communion of the Holy Spirit.
It is always necessary to maintain a certain restraint in describing these "ultimate realities" since their depiction is always unsatisfactory. Today, personalist language is better suited to describing the state of happiness and peace we will enjoy in our definitive communion with God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church sums up the Church's teaching on this truth: "By his death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ has "opened' heaven to us. The life of the blessed consists in the full and perfect possession of the fruits of the redemption accomplished by Christ. He makes partners in his heavenly glorification those who have believed in him and remained faithful to his will. Heaven is the blessed community of all who are perfectly incorporated into Christ" (n. 1026).

5° - This final state, however, can be anticipated in some way today in sacramental life, whose centre is the Eucharist, and in the gift of self through fraternal charity. If we are able to enjoy properly the good things that the Lord showers upon us every day, we will already have begun to experience that joy and peace which one day will be completely ours.
We know that on this earth everything is subject to limits, but the thought of the "ultimate" realities helps us to live better the "penultimate" realities. We know that as we pass through this world we are called to seek "the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3:1), in order to be with him in the eschatological fulfilment, when the Spirit will fully reconcile with the Father "all things, whether on earth or in heaven" (Col 1:20).

THE KINGDOM OF HEAVENS

In this expression the innermost teaching of the Old Testament is summed up, but it should be noted that the word kingdom means ruling as well; thus it signifies not so much the actual kingdom as the sway of the king — cf. Daniel 4:28-29.
The Greek basileia of the New Testament also has these two meanings — cf. Aristotle, "Pol.", II, xi, 10; II, xiv; IV, xiii, 10. We find the theocracy sketched in Exodus 19:6; in the establishment of the kingdom, 1 Samuel 8:7: "They have not rejected thee, but me, that I should not reign over them." Still more clearly is it indicated in the promise of the theocratic kingdom, 2 Samuel 7:14-16.
It is God Who rules in the theocratic king and Who will avenge any neglect on his part. All through the Psalter this same thought is found (cf. Psalm 10:5); it is constantly insisted that God's throne is in heaven and that there is His kingdom; this may explain St. Matthew's preference for the expression "kingdom of heaven", as being more familiar to the Hebrews for whom he wrote.

The Prophets dwell on the thought that God is the Supreme King and that by Him alone all kings rule; cf. Isaiah 37:16-20. And when the temporal monarchy has failed, this same thought of God's ultimate rule over His people is brought into clearer relief till it culminates in the grand prophecy of Daniel 7:13 sq., to which the thoughts of Christ's hearers must have turned when they heard Him speak of His kingdom. In that vision the power of ruling over all the forces of evil as symbolized by the four beasts which are the four kingdoms is given to "one like the son of man".
At the same time we catch a glimpse in the apocryphal Psalms of Solomon of the way in which, side by side with the truth, there grew up among the carnal-minded the idea of a temporal sovereignty of the Messias, an idea, which was (Luke 19:11; Matthew 18:1; Acts 1:6) to exercise so baneful an influence on subsequent generations; cf. especially Ps. Sol., xvii, 23-28, where God is besought to raise up the King, the Son of David, to crush the nations and purify Jerusalem, etc.
In the Greek Book of Wisdom, however, we find the most perfect realization of what was truly implied by this "rule" of God — "She [Wisdom] led the just man through direct paths and shewed him the kingdom of God", i.e. in what that kingdom consisted.

In the New Testament the speedy advent of this kingdom is the one theme: "Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand", said the Baptist, and Christ's opening words to the people do but repeat that message. At every stage in His teaching the advent of this kingdom, its various aspects, its precise meaning, the way in which it is to be attained, form the staple of His discourses, so much so that His discourse is called "the gospel of the kingdom".

And the various shades of meaning which the expression bears have to be studied. In the mouth of Christ the "kingdom" means not so much a goal to be attained or a place — though those meanings are by no means excluded; cf. Matthew 5:3; 11:2, etc. — it is rather a tone of mind (Luke 17:20-21), it stands for an influence which must permeate men's minds if they would be one with Him and attain to His ideals; cf. Luke 9:55.

It is only by realizing these shades of meaning that we can do justice to the parables of the kingdom with their endless variety. At one time the "kingdom" means the sway of grace in men's hearts, e.g. in the parable of the seed growing secretly (Mark 4:26 sq.; cf. Matthew 21:43); and thus, too, it is opposed to and explained by the opposite kingdom of the devil (Matthew 4:8; 12:25-26). At another time it is the goal at which we have to aim, e.g. Matthew 3:3. Again it is a place where God is pictured as reigning (Mark 14:25).

In the second petition of the "Our Father" — "Thy kingdom come" — we are taught to pray as well for grace as for glory. As men grew to understand the Divinity of Christ they grew to see that the kingdom of God was also that of Christ — it was here that the faith of the good thief excelled: "Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom."
So, too, as men realized that this kingdom stood for a certain tone of mind, and saw that this peculiar spirit was enshrined in the Church, they began to speak of the Church as "the kingdom of God"; cf. Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Apocalypse 1:6-9 and 5:10, etc.
The kingdom was regarded as Christ's and He presents it to the Father; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23-28; 2 Timothy 4:1. The kingdom of God means, then, the ruling of God in our hearts; it means those principles which separate us off from the kingdom of the world and the devil; it means the benign sway of grace; it means the Church as that Divine institution whereby we may make sure of attaining the spirit of Christ and so win that ultimate kingdom of God Where He reigns without end in "the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Revelation 21:2).

THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

The presence and coming of the Kingdom of God was the central message of Jesus. For example, "his teaching was designed to show men how they might enter the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5:20; 7:21). His mighty works were intended to prove that the Kingdom of God had come upon them (Matt. 12: 28). His parables illustrated to His disciples the truth about the Kingdom of God (Matt. 13:11).

And when He taught His followers to pray, at the heart of their petition were the words, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). On the eve of His death, He assured His disciples that He would yet share with them the happiness and the fellowship of the Kingdom (Luke 22:22-30). And He promised that He would appear again. on the earth in glory to bring the blessedness of the Kingdom to those for whom it was prepared (Matt. 25:31, 34)."

The term "Kingdom of God" occurs four times in Matthew (12:28; 19:24; 21:31; 21:43), fourteen times in Mark, thirty-two times in Luke, twice in the Gospel of John (3:3, 5), six times in Acts, eight times in Paul, and once in Revelation (12:10). Matthew actually prefers the term "Kingdom of heaven" which he uses over 20 times in his gospel.
While Matthew primarily uses the term “kingdom of heaven” and other gospel writers (notably Luke) use the term “kingdom of God,” it is clear that these two expressions mean exactly the same thing (e.g. compare Matt. 5:3 with Luke 6:20). In the past some have tried to maintain a distinction between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God; however, the vast majority of theologians today recognize the terms as synonymous.

THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER OF MATTHEW IN KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

The thirteenth chapter of Matthew marks a new division in the gospel, in which Jesus addresses Himself to the problem of what will occur when He goes back to heaven as the triumphant King. The gospel of Matthew began with the proofs that Jesus was indeed the promised Son who would reign on the throne of David (chap. 1), supported by the visit of the wise men and the early ministry of John the Baptist (chaps. 2-3).
After His temptation, Jesus presented the principles of His coming kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount (chaps. 5-7), emphasizing spiritual and moral principles that govern the kingdom of God, but especially as these applied to the prophesied kingdom on earth, which the Messiah-King was to bring when He came. The Sermon on the Mount accordingly contained timeless truths always applicable, some truths that were immediately applicable to Christ’s day on earth, and some truths that were to have their fulfillment in the future kingdom.

Following the presentation of the principles of the kingdom, in Matthew 8-10, the miracles which served as the prophesied credentials of the King were itemized. It becomes apparent, however, that increasingly, the Jews were rejecting these evidences that Jesus was indeed their Messiah and prophesied King. Accordingly, in chapter 11, His rejection and the postponement of the kingdom were anticipated. In most severe language, Jesus itemized their sinful rejection with severe indictment upon the cities where His mighty works were done.

Chapter 11 closed with an invitation to individual believers to come unto Him for rest. The further rejection of Jesus is recorded in chapter 12, climaxing in the charge of the Pharisees that He performed His miracles in the power of the devil. Jesus likened the state of His wicked generation to a man possessed of eight evil spirits (12:45).

With this as a background, chapter 13 faces the question,
What will happen when the rejected king goes back to heaven and the kingdom promised is postponed until His second coming?

The concept of a kingdom postponed must be understood as a postponement from the human side and not from the divine, as obviously God’s plans do not change. It may be compared to the situation when the children of Israel, bound for the promised land, because of unbelief, had their entrance postponed for forty years. If they had believed God, they might have entered the land immediately.

Jesus deliberately adopted the parabolic method of teaching at a particular stage in His ministry for the purpose of withholding further truth about Himself and the kingdom of heaven from the crowds, who had proved themselves to be deaf to His claims and irresponsive to His demands… From now onwards, when addressing the unbelieving multitude, He speaks only in parables, which He interprets to His disciples in private.

THE SEVEN PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

In this chapter are presented in the seven parables the mysteries of the kingdom. Only Matthew records seven parables. The parables of the sower and mustard seed are found in Mark 4:1-9, 13-20, 30-32, and in Luke 8:5-15.
The parable of the leaven is found in Luke 13:20-21. The other four parables are only in Matthew. The parables are designed to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom, that is, the present age.
Mysteries, a word used of secret rites of various religious cults, refers to truth that was not revealed in the Old Testament but is revealed in the New Testament. More than a dozen such truths are revealed in the New Testament, all following the basic definition of Colossians 1:26, which defines a mystery as that “which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.”

A mystery truth, accordingly, has two elements. First, it has to be hidden in the Old Testament and not revealed there. Second, it has to be revealed in the New Testament. It is not necessarily a reference to a truth difficult to understand, but rather to truths that can be understood only on the basis of divine revelation.

The Old Testament reveals, in clear terms, the earthly reign of Christ when He comes as King to reign on the throne of David (which truths are not mysteries). Matthew 13 introduces a different form of the kingdom, namely the present spiritual reign of the King during the period He is physically absent from the earth, prior to His second coming.
The mysteries of the kingdom, accordingly, deal with the period between the first and second advent of Christ and not the millennial kingdom which will follow the second coming.

1° - PARABLE OF THE SOWER, Matthew 13:1-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.
Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”

The scene of this prophetic sermon of Jesus was the Sea of Galilee. Because of the great multitudes thronging the shores, Jesus went into a small boat a short distance from the shore, and by this means, was able to command a view of the entire multitude. While they stood, He sat in the boat in the role of a religious teacher.

The first paragraph does not have the precise formula of the later paragraphs, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto,” but is, rather, an introductory parable, serving as a basis for all that follows. In the parable, a sower went forth to sow, sowing his seed upon four kinds of earth. Although sometimes the ground was prepared by plowing, in other cases, seed would be sown with no preparation whatever, which seems to be the case in this parable.

Some of the seed fell on the wayside (i.e., the hard-beaten path), where there was no receptivity, and fowls came and devoured it. Some seed fell on the second type of soil defined as “stony places” (v. 5). This refers to stony ground with sufficient soil to allow the seed to sprout but with insufficient depth to allow adequate roots. Beginning to grow, the new plants withered in the heat of the sun.
Some seed fell among thorns, that is, soil that was good enough but full of weeds. Here, the competition of the thorns was too much, and the young plants were choked out. The fourth soil receiving the seed was described as “good ground” (v. 8), bringing forth seed up to one hundredfold. In each case, the seed is the same, but the difference is in the receptivity of the soil.

In the conclusion of His presentation of the parable of the sower, Jesus made the challenge, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (v. 9). Later, after Christ had sent the multitude away (v. 36), the disciples came to Him to ask why He spoke unto them in parables. His explanation was that it was proper for them, His disciples, to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to the people who were largely unbelieving, it was not.

Christ declared the principle, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath” (v. 12). Accordingly, Christ stated that He spoke in parables that the unbelievers might not understand and would thereby fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9-10, that the people would not hear the message. His disciples, however, were to be blessed by this new revelation which was not revealed to the prophets and the righteous men of old but was now being revealed to them (Mt 13:17).
This confirms the previous definition of a mystery as a truth not revealed in the Old Testament but now revealed in the New Testament.

Some have found it difficult to harmonize the concept that truth is revealed in such a way that unbelievers cannot understand it. The point is that there is a long background of unbelief and disregard of previous revelation.
Accordingly, when additional revelation is given to believers, it is couched in terms that only they will understand. In a sense, unbelievers have sinned away their day of opportunity. It is in keeping with the principle that darkness follows and light is rejected.

In Matthew 13:18-23, the parable of the sower is explained. The birds that devoured the seed by the wayside represented satanic influence, which supports the hardness of the heart that rejects the message. The seed on shallow ground pictured superficial reception of the Word, where the Word does not bear fruit. The seed among thorns depicted “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches” which choke the Word and make it unfruitful (v. 22).
The seed on the good ground, which brings forth fruit up to an hundredfold, represented the one who not only hears the Word but understands it and lets it bring forth its fruit abundantly.

As this parable makes plain, there is no anticipating in the present age that there will be universal reception of the truth of Jesus, such as it is teached. Most of those who hear the message of the kingdom will reject it. Some, however, will receive the message, cherish it in their heart, and believe in the truth of the kingdom.
This first parable establishes the basic character of the present age, awaiting the return of the triumphant King. Each age will include some who believe and many, unfortunately, who will not believe.

2° - PARABLE OF THE TARES, Matthew 13:24-30

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

In the second parable, Jesus likewise used the figure of a sower, but this time, dealt with the character of the seed rather than its reception. In this parable, the sower sowed the good seed, described as wheat, and the enemy sowed tares, referring to rye grass, the darnel which often grows up with the wheat. One side effect of the darnel seed is that it is subject to a parasite fungus, which infects seed and is poisonous to both men and animals.

In the parable, when the servants asked whether they should uproot the tares, the instruction was to let both go to the harvest time, because uprooting the tares would also uproot the wheat. Accordingly, Jesus stated, “Let both grow together until the harvest” (v. 30). As some theologists comment, “Magistrates and churches may remove the openly wicked from their society; the outwardly good who are unworldly worthless they must leave; for the judging of hearts is beyond their sphere.”

At the harvest, the tares are gathered first, then the wheat is gathered into the barn. In the interpretation in Matthew 13:36-43, when the disciples later privately asked Jesus concerning the meaning of this parable, He identified the field as the world, the sower as the Son of man who sowed the good seed, the enemy as the devil who sowed the tares. The good seeds represented the children of the kingdom, and the tares the children of the wicked one, that is, the devil.

The reapers were identified as the angels; the time of the harvest was “the end of this world,” or more properly translated, “the consummation of this age.”
The judgment was described as a work of the angels gathering out of the kingdom of the Son of man any that would offend, and casting them into a furnace of fire.
The judgment is parallel to that described in Matthew 25:31-46, where the sheep are separated from the goats.

Adversity have made much of the order of the judgment described in 13:30, that is, that the tares are gathered first and that later the wheat is gathered into the barn.
Matthew 13 is not dealing specifically with the church age, the period between Pentecost and the christian belief, but with the entire period of the kingdom in its mystery form, that is, the period between the first and second advents, during which the King is absent and which includes the period between the christian belief and the second coming. The rapture is not in view at all. As far as the order of events is concerned, in the seventh parable, where the good and bad fish are separated, the order is reversed with the good gathered first.

A reasonable conclusion is that the order of events is indeed the destruction of the wicked and the ushering of the righteous to the millennial kingdom. However, both are simultaneous events in fulfillment, although actually the tares are destroyed before the kingdom is brought in fully.
The second parable, as a whole, makes clear the dual line of development within the sphere of profession, with the true believer not clearly identified until the time of judgment. This parable is not a picture of the universal triumph of the gospel; neither is it a fulfillment of an earthly reign where Christ is supreme on earth. Rather it is the period before the return of the King, who was rejected in His first coming.

3° - PARABLE OF THE MUSTARD SEED, Matthew 13:31-32

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

In this parable, the kingdom of heaven was compared to the small mustard seed which became such a large plant that birds were able to lodge in its branches. This mustard plant is a species different than the common one used as a condiment. Although left without interpretation, it anticipated that Christendom will grow rapidly from a small beginning to an organization with great power and wealth. While the plant included both true believers and those who professed to believe, the mustard plant was distinguished from the birds lodging in its branches which were unbelievers (cf. Dan 4:20-22).

Some have noted that the mustard seed described as “the least of all seeds” is not actually the smallest seed, and that this is an error in the Scriptures. The answer is twofold. The Greek word translated “the smallest” (mikroteron) is actually a comparative and should be translated “smaller,” as it is in the New English Bible and in the New American Standard Bible. The thought is that it is “very small.” Second, it is pointed out, “Jesus is speaking of the seeds that were ordinarily planted in ancient gardens. Jesus remarks that the seed of mustard is small, becoming a great plant, thus our faith can begin small and becoming greater till become a great faith.

The parable of the mustard seed is also found in Mark 4, where it is related to the kingdom of God. This has supported the view of many that the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are identical, as they are occasionally found in parallel passages. There is some indication in Scripture, however, that the kingdom of heaven emphasizes the professing character of the kingdom as including unbelievers who look like believers, as illustrated in the tares, in contrast to the kingdom of God, containing only true believers.

It is significant that the kingdom of God is not compared to the second parable, that of the wheat and the tares, as those in the kingdom of God are genuine believers. Putting Matthew and Mark together, the conclusion can be reached that both the number of true believers (the kingdom of God) as well as the sphere of profession in the present age (the kingdom of heaven) will grow rapidly.
This is in contrast to the future kingdom, which Christ will bring at His second coming, which will begin abruptly as a worldwide kingdom, rather than as a product of gradual growth.

4° - PARABLE OF THE LEAVEN, Matthew 13:33-35

Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying;
I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the creation of the world.

In this parable, the kingdom of heaven is likened unto leaven hidden in meal (cf. Lk 13:20-21). In biblical times, it was customary to retain a small portion of leavened dough from each batch to mix in with the next batch of dough, thereby leavening the new dough. In modern times, yeast is usually used.

What does the leaven represents?

It is usually assume dogmatically that leaven cannot represent evil in this parable, although it is universally used to represent evil in both the Old and New Testament.
For instance, “It is impossible to use leaven in this sense when picturing the kingdom.” The kingdom of this world includes both good and evil. Can be that the leaven be synonymous in the gospel as a permeating and ameliorating principle the world but this is not sense with this chapter in its presentation of the present age.

It is more evident than ever in the last third of the twentieth century that the gospel has not permeated the whole world and that evil tends to permeate the entire professing church, which is exactly what Matthew 13 teaches. In the Old Testament, leaven is used consistently to represent evil. In sacrifices, which represent Jesus Christ, such as the unleavened bread on the table of shewbread, no leaven was permitted. In cases where leaven was permitted, they inevitably represented human situations, as the peace offering of Leviticus 7:11-13, and the two loaves anticipating typically the professing church, mentioned in Leviticus 23:15-18.

In the New Testament, leaven was used by Christ of the externalism of the Pharisees, of the unbelief of the Sadducees, and of the worldliness of the Herodians, and in general of evil doctrine (Mt 16:6-12; Mk 8:14-21). In Paul’s letters, likewise, leaven represents evil, as in I Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 5:7-10.

In the parable, the meal represented that which is good, as it was made from wheat and not from tares. The professing church, however, is sorrounded by evil doctrine, externalism, unbelief, and worldliness, which tend to defeat the church and make its defeat be larger in appearance, even as the leaven it make grow the dough but actually adds nothing of real worth.
The history of the church has all too accurately fulfilled this anticipation, and the professing church in the world, large and powerful though it may be, is permeated by the leaven of evil which will be judged in the oven of divine judgment at the end of the age.
The parable applying to the kingdom of heaven in its mystery form applies to the militant church which will continue in the world after the true church. To some extent, evil will extend even to the kingdom of God, which includes the body of true believers. As in Luke 13:20-21, even true believers fall far short of perfection and can embrace to some extent worldliness, externalism, and bad doctrine.

5° - Parable of the Treasure, Matthew 13:44

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

The parable of the treasure is linked with the sixth parable, the parable of the pearl, and the final parable of the good and bad fish, as three parables reflecting the divine point of view rather than the historic human point of view, which was presented in the first four parables. Like the third and fourth parable, no explanation is given, and expositors have tended to find support for their overall view of the chapter.
A common interpretation and very correct meaning, of the parable can be, that the man who finds the treasure is the believer who finds Christ, with the same interpretation carried over to the merchant who finds the pearl.
Everyone agrees that Christ is a treasure whom all the world has not discovered, but upon close examination, the interpretation is shallow and unsatisfactory.

In the parable, the man was represented as hiding the treasure and selling all he had to buy it. The facts are, of course, that a believer in Christ has nothing to offer and the treasure is not for sale. The believer does not buy a field, representing the world, in order to gain Christ. Further, upon discovery of the treasure, a believer shares it with others rather than hides it.
The key to the parable in the ancient interpretation was to determine what the treasure was that was held in the field. Although the interpretation should not be dogmatically held, there is scriptural evidence that what was referred to here was none other than the nation Israel.

Although Israel is an obvious factor in the world, apart from scriptural revelation, no one would recognize Israel as a treasure, and especially a treasure for which anyone would sell all that he has to buy. An important point of view to stand out, from Israel would come the saviour of the world.
Scriptural support is given for interpreting the treasure as Israel. According to Exodus 19:5, God declared to Israel, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” According to Psalms 135:4, “The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.”

The present interpretation is that hidden treasure is our Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact that Israel is a treasure not recognized by the world and therefore hidden is all too evident today. Even among evangelical Christians, there are those who question whether Israel is an important biblical nation today with a prophetic future. Yet as we trace the gospel narratives, it is clear that Jesus came first, with a special purpose of redeeming Israel, although at the same time He reconciled the world unto Himself.

It was Jesus, therefore, who sold all that He had in order to buy the treasure, Israel, and to purchase it with His own blood (Phil 2:7-8; 1 Pe 1:18-19). During the present age, Israel is a hidden entity in the world, only to emerge at the end of the age as a major factor in the prophetic fulfillment leading up to the second coming of Christ.

6° - Parable of the Pearl of Great Price, Matthew 13:45-46

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it".

In this parable, the same thought was presented as in the preceding one; only here, the pearl seemed to represent the church rather than Israel. In the world of gems, the pearl is uniquely formed organically. Its formation occurs because of an irritation in the tender side of an oyster. There is a sense in which the church was formed out of the wounds of Christ and has been made possible by His death and sacrifice.

The parable emphasized that the church has been made possible by the merchant who sold all that He had to secure the great pearl. So Christ, leaving the glory of heaven, made the supreme sacrifice of dying on the cross in order to make possible the formation of the church.
The concept of the church as a living organism, composed of living stones which are added each time a believer is saved, was an apt portrayal of the formation of the true church in the present age, and made clear that this is one of the major purposes of God.
In the treasure and the pearl are the two major purposes of God for world and the church from a spiritual point of view, and His purposes for both are realized, even though there is the dual line of development of good and evil and will culminate in the second coming of Christ.

7° - Parable of the Net, Matthew 13:47-50

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full of fish, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good fish into baskets but threw away the sea the bad fish.
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth".

The seventh parable, similar in many ways to the parable of the wheat and the tares, summarized the main ideas of the entire chapter. Like the first two parables, it was interpreted immediately. The kingdom of heaven was compared to a large net. Because of its large character, the net collects a multitude of different kinds of fish, described in the text as “every kind.” Nets of this size were too large to empty into a boat and had to be drawn to shore.
Here the fish were sorted. Those that were bad, or for any reason unusable, were cast back into the sea.
The good fish were gathered into the vessel for eating.

This familiar operation on the shores of the Sea of Galilee was compared to the judgment at the end of the age.
Angels were described as separating those who are wicked from among the righteous, the wicked being described as wailing and gnashing their teeth as they were cast into the furnace of fire (Mt 13:50).
The situation is parallel to the judgment of the nations in 25:31-46. The righteous who remain after the wicked are gathered out are able to enter into the kingdom. The general situation is the same as the separation of the wheat and the tares and their judgment, described in 13:41-43.

The fulfillment of the prophetic truth in this parable will occur at the second coming of Jesus Christ, when the world be judged and the kingdom instituted. It is clear from this parable, as those preceding, that the present age does not end with a evil triumph, with a entire world almost Christianized; neither is fulfilled the kingdom promises of the Old Testament nor does is described the period when all nations will serve the Lord. Rather, as in preceding parables, it describes the dual line of good and evil, continuing until the time of the end when both the good and evil are judged according to their true character.

It is significant that the net representing the kingdom of heaven that included all kinds, both wicked and righteous, and that the separation did not come until the end. This passage serves to distinguish the kingdom of heaven from the kingdom of God, the power of God, and the triumph of righteous. Refers to God's kingship, or rule, from heaven. The kingdom of heaven is focused in the Person of Jesus Christ, and is especially manifested where He rules in the hearts of men - Lk 17:20-21.
Neither the parable of the wheat and the tares nor the parable of the good and bad fish, as related to the kingdom of God, is mentioned in the other gospels.

Concluding Statement About the Parables, 13:51-52

At the conclusion of the parables, Jesus asked the disciples, “Have you understood all these things?” Amazingly, they replied, “Yea, Lord.”
It is rather obvious that they did not understand the parables, except in their general teachings. It would have required much more perspective, the clear revelation of the present age, and, to some extent, perspective of history, for them to have really understood these parables. At this time, they did not understand it totally that there would be a second coming of Jesus. Christ did not challenge their knowlegde, but he told them that if they were truly instructed in these truths, they would be able to bring the word of God like a treasure house of the truths learnt till edge of the world.

WHO WILL ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?

What does God require of a person before granting him the gift of eternal life and assurance of entry into the Kingdom?

Must the truly-converted Christian, through combining good "works" with his faith, reach a certain level of spiritual perfection before he is qualified for entry into the Kingdom?

The Bible teaches that anyone who "places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Blood shed at Calvary is eternally secure. He can never lose his salvation.
No personal breaking of God's or man's laws or commandments can nullify that status."

When, precisely, can a person experience the joy of salvation, with full assurance that if he were to die tomorrow he would rise to meet Christ at His return, and live eternally in the Kingdom of God?
Jesus was asked if few people are going to Heaven. Jesus replied that many will seek to enter into Heaven, but only a few will be allowed. This Scripture passage should frighten many people.

Many people will seek to enter into Heaven in eternity, even blaming the Lord Jesus when they are turned away.
We read in Matthew 7:22-23...

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?
and in thy name have cast out devils?
and in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

These religious people, what Jesus says, were lost and on their way to Hell. They were shocked and dumbfounded when the Lord rejected them. They had spent their lives teaching in Jesus' name and doing many charitable deeds in Jesus' name. How could this happen? What went wrong? They were so sincere and now they're are being told they cannot enter into Heaven. Despite trying to blame the Lord, they will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever.

Perhaps you ask, what groups of religious people today are doing wonderful things in Jesus' name, and are speaking in Jesus' name; but are lost and on their way to Hell?
Namely: Lutherans, Catholics, Church of Christ, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Scientology, Muslims, Judaism, Christian Science, Greek Orthodox, United Church of Christ, Russian Orthodox, Unitarian Universalist, Moonies, New Agers, Episcopal, the Lordship Salvation crowd and many more.

So, who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Jesus said it clearly:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21.

WHO WILL NOT ENTER IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN?

The apostle Paul wrote, "Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, those who profit of sex, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God",Galatians 5:19-21.

Paul's warning was not restricted to those who had not yet been "saved." Anyone, he said, who engages in the "works of the flesh" shall not inherit the Kingdom. Had he been speaking of the unsaved only, it would have been pointless to say, "I warn you..."--that is, you who have received the Holy Spirit, you who have had your sins blotted out through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.