None of Matthew's "kingdom of heaven" euphemisms for young John Mark! He'll go ahead and risk the wrath of his fellow Jews by calling it what it is: the "kingdom of God."
But I find his description of Jesus' words about the kingdom consistent.
To be a part of that kingdom, I must:
- Repent and believe (Mark 1:15)
- Abhor division (Mark 3:24)
- Accept mystery (Mark 4:11)
- Sow seed, anticipate harvest (Mark 4:26-31)
- Connect it with power (Mark 9:1)
- Get my priorities straight (Mark 9:47)
- Cherish innocence (Mark 10:14)
- Eschew wealth (Mark 10:23-25)
- Love God; love others (Mark 12:28-34)
- Look forward to the feast (Mark 14:25)
- Wait for it; ask boldly (Mark 15:43)
People have debated for centuries whether Jesus really intended to found a church, and how much it overlaps His kingdom.
When I looked at Matthew's references, I took it personally. (Jesse's mom made an observation that put it in perspective!)
But - without accusing or lauding - I tried to look at Mark's references for that overlap. Does the church bear out the vision of the kingdom that Jesus describes?
The answer is probably "yes and no."
I just wonder how I would react if Jesus came like the thief in the Jack Benny sketch and, instead of demanding "Your money or your life!", asked:
"The kingdom or the church?"
Would I stand there like Jack's skinflint persona, one hand cradling the elbow attached to the hand where my chin is resting ponderously ... finally answering: "I'm thinking it over!"?
I want to object to the question; I want to say there couldn't be such a choice; it's not valid to ask. Yet I look over John Mark's bullet points as I'm pecking away at this keyboard and ...
I'm thinking it over.