The Kingdom of Heaven is being compared to ….

The conversation in Matthew (22:1-14) between Jesus and the Chief Priests plus the Jerusalem elite continues. They asked by what authority Jesus did ALL these things: teaching in the temple, healing, forgiving sins, eating with sinners etc…, overturning money changers tables – ALL these things and more. And Jesus links his authority to John’s and then tells some stories about sons, and vineyard tenants, and now a wedding feast. All of which are about their lack of authority and abuse of power, and how his authority comes from God.

Luke tells a similar story but with big differences. We normally read this story as Jesus saying “this is what the kingdom of heaven is like.” The king then is God. Except this king acts much more like a Herod or a Caesar than the God of the Beatitudes. Is this really what the kingdom of heaven is like?

Some suggest the Greek might be better translated as “The Kingdom of Heaven is being compared to …. Which raises of question of who is comparing the kingdom of heaven to this kind of wedding feast?  Is Jesus instead offering a critique of a common way the kingdom of heaven was described – a way implied in how the Chief Priests and Jerusalem elite finished the story about vineyards and acted in their dealings with the poor tenant farmers?

This story finishes with the weeping and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness – is this where this kind of understanding of the reign of God will lead us? If so, where are our assumptions about the reign of God leading us astray, and what other ways of describing this reign are we able to offer? And how does any of this help us understand by what authority Jesus does all what he does?

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