The Seeds Of The Kingdom

Our behaviour in this world should anticipate the righteousness that will pervade the Kingdom of God as our actions now are an integral part of the bringing in of the Kingdom.

From “The Mystery Of The Kingdom Of God”
by Albert Schweitzer, 1875-1965

About Jesus’ earlier development we know nothing. All lies in the dark. Only this is sure: at his baptism, the secret of his existence was disclosed to him, namely, that he was the one whom God had destined to be the Messiah. With this revelation, he was complete and underwent no further development. For now, he is assured that, until the near coming of the messianic age which was to reveal his glorious dignity, he has to labour for the Kingdom as the unrecognised and hidden Messiah, and must approve and purify himself together with his friends in the final Affliction. The idea of suffering was thus included in his messianic consciousness, just as the notion of the pre-messianic Affliction was indissolubly connected with the expectation of the Kingdom. Earthly events could not influence Jesus’ course. His secret raised him above the world, even though he still walked as a man among men.

His appearing and his proclamation have to do only with the near approach of the Kingdom. His preaching is that of John, only that he confirms it by signs. Although his secret controls all his preaching, yet no one may know of it, for he must remain unrecognised till the new aeon dawns.

Like his secret, so also is his whole ethical outlook ruled by the contrast of “now and then.” It is a question of repentance unto the Kingdom, and the conquest of the righteousness which renders one fit for it, for only the righteous inherit the Kingdom. This righteousness is higher than that of the Law, for he knows that the law and the Prophets prophesied until John, (with the Baptist, however, one finds oneself in the age of the Forerunner, immediately before the dawn of the Kingdom). Therefore, as the future Messiah, he must preach and work that higher morality. The poor in spirit, the meek, those that endure suffering, those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, these all are blessed because by this mark they are destined for the Kingdom.

Behind this ethical preaching looms the secret of the Kingdom of God. That which, as performed by the individual, constitutes moral renewal in preparation for the Kingdom, signifies, as accomplished by the community, a fact through which the realisation of the Kingdom in a supernatural way will be hastened. Thus individual and social ethics blend in the great secret. As the plentiful harvest, by God’s wonderful working, follows mysteriously upon the sowing, so comes also the Kingdom of God, by reason of man’s moral renewal, but substantially without his assistance.

The parable contains also the suggestion of a chronological coincidence. Jesus spoke at the season of seed-sowing and expected the Kingdom at the time of the harvest. Nature was God’s clock. With the last seed-sowing, he had set it for the last time.

The secret of the Kingdom of God is the transfiguration in celestial light of the ethics of the early prophets, according to which also the final state of glory will be brought about by God only on condition of the moral conversion of Israel. In sovereign style, Jesus effects the synthesis of the apocalyptic of Daniel and the ethics of the Prophets. With him it is not a question of eschatological ethics, rather is his world view an ethical eschatology. As such it is modern.

The signs and wonders also come under a double point of view. For the people, they are merely to confirm the preaching of the nearness of the Kingdom. Whosoever now does not believe that the time is so far advanced, he has no excuse. The signs and wonders condemn him, for they plainly attest that the power of ungodliness is coming to an end.

For Jesus, however, there lay behind this affirmation the secret of the Kingdom of God. When the Pharisees wished to ascribe these very signs to the power of Satan, he alluded to the secret by a parable. By his acts, he binds the power of ungodliness, as one falls upon a strong man and renders him harmless before attempting to rob him of his possessions. Wherefore, in sending out his Apostles, he gives them, together with the charge to preach, authority over unclean spirits. They are to deal the last blow.

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