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Jesus Creed

Yet another “kingdom” reference (from Q) can be found in Matthew 8:11 (par. Lk 13:29). Again, the full account: When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 ?Lord,? he said, ?my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.?
7 Jesus said to him, ?I will go and heal him.?
8 The centurion replied, ?Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ?Go,? and he goes; and that one, ?Come,? and he comes. I say to my servant, ?Do this,? and he does it.?
10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, ?I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.?
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, ?Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.? And his servant was healed at that very hour.
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1. Kingdom is future. How far into the future? Is this imminent or is this the Eschaton, the End of History? Many, of course, naturally take this one to be those who will sit with Jesus in the kingdom, ie heaven. There are reasons for this, not the least of which are that the Old Testament and the Gospels connect Eternity (in some sense) with the Great Banquet.
2. But this text isn’t so compliant on this score. Why? The idea of v. 12 is that there are some — namely, the “subjects of the kingdom” — who will be tossed out. What does “tossed out” mean?
3. My suggestion, not one I’m willing to die on a hill for, is that this text might well be referring to 70AD. That is, Jesus predicts that the day is soon coming when the kingdom’s natural inhabitants will be turned out while the followers of Jesus, Jew or Gentile, will be ushered into the kingdom. Now it is not hard to connect 70AD with a full-blown Gentile mission, as can be seen in Matthew 22. So, whether you agree or not, the point is worthy of serious consideration.
4. Now to our issue: What is the kingdom here? Once again it is hard to know: it all rests on the meaning of the word “kingdom” and the images connected to it in this context.
5. Faith, or human response, is about one’s relation to Jesus.
6. The “east and west” probably refers to Gentiles coming into the kingdom at some level, though some have suggested this is the Diaspora Jews returning to Zion.
7. Clearly, some are in and some are out.

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