It is said that when Leonardo da Vinci was painting The Last Supper that when he painted Judas he used the face of a man he couldn’t stand. However, he later shared that he was unable to paint Jesus’ face until removing the face of Judas. Once he then painted Jesus’ face he no longer held the grudge against the man whose face he used for Judas. The final painting of Judas is simply a face he conceived after his bitterness subsided.
Jesus told his disciples, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them” (Matthew 13:16-17). The things they had seen and heard involved miracles and grace and the arrival of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom without end and a Kingdom where people live differently.
The history of the world is a history of the battle between two Kingdoms, one the Kingdom of Light and the other the Kingdom of Darkness. For those who experience the grace of Christ their new center is the Kingdom of Light. It was this kingdom that influenced da Vinci to let go of his anger. In this new kingdom there are different ways of living that are not bound by cause and effect, tit for tat, reactive living.
Paul would share this Kingdom has a visible expression as well when he wrote, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17). Along with inward heart and attitude changes there is to be an outward expression of holiness, peace and joy.
Holiness is to be set apart, peace is about a calm confidence in our right standing with God through the grace of Christ, and joy is about being happy in our day to day life. When Jesus said the disciples where “blessed” to see and hear about the Kingdom, he was saying “how fortunate” or “how happy you are” to know the secrets he has revealed.
Indeed, knowing his kingdom come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven is where eternal hope lies. There is sin and destruction in the world. The apostles would share this is evidence there are still two kingdoms at odds with each other, but one day a kingdom will win out and all things will be made new.
A lot of doom and gloom has been written about this outcome, suggesting that the Kingdom of Darkness eventually wins and the world ends. However, a consistent reading of scripture makes it clear Jesus did not secure a victory for another world in eternity, but for the here and now. Indeed, when Daniel had his great vision he saw a stone destroy the statue that represented the systems of the world. That stone is Christ, but that stone does more than destroy the alternate kingdom. Daniel shares, “The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35).
The stone, Christ, destroyed the statue, and the kingdom he brought became a mountain, then filled the whole earth. That complete filling is not yet complete, but evil does not win, the stone wins, indeed it will continue to grow until on earth as it is in heaven.
Read a copy of Daniel in the Old Testament found at the Cleveland Library, the join us Sundays at Akron First to learn more about Kingdom living.