Wednesday, January 16, 2008

For the Sake of Heaven on Earth

There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it. (Matthew 19:12)
In Matthew 11, Jesus talked about the kingdom of Heaven on Earth forcefully advancing, and forceful men laying hold of it. In Matthew 13, He described it as a treasure hidden in a field, for which a man would give up all he has in order to possess it as his own. In Matthew 19, He briefly discusses a complication of marriage, particularly concerning divorce. Hearing this, his disciples said, “If such is the case with the man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (v. 10). Jesus answered
But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” (vv. 11-12)
Referring to those “who have made themselves eunuchs,” He does not mean that they have emasculated themselves, as some have erroneously supposed. Rather, He is speaking of those who choose not to marry but to remain celibate in order to fulfill their destiny in God’s kingdom.

Some serve the kingdom by being fruitful and multiplying through marriage and family. Others serve by the devotion and focus unique to those who are single and celibate. Jesus recognized that not all receive, “but only those to whom it has been given.” In other words, it is a special calling. Concerning this same matter, Paul said, “As God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk” (1 Corinthians 7:17), and “Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called” (v. 20). He also cautions that it should not be a matter for great concern, for we are each free to marry or remain single, as the Lord has given us grace.

In the plan of God, the norm is for us to “be fruitful and multiply,” to “fill the earth and subdue it,” and to “have dominion” (Genesis 1:28). This is the prime directive given to man and woman, and it speaks of uniting in marriage, have children and nurturing families. For those do, great promise is given:
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
(Psalm 127:3-5)
But there is also great promise given to those who follow a special calling, who devote themselves in singleness and celibacy for the sake of the kingdom:
Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak, saying, “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people;” nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 56:3-5)
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
Whether you are married and nurturing children or single and celibate, let it be for the sake of Jesus, the Gospel and the kingdom of Heaven on Earth.



The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth
Keys to the Kingdom of God
in the Gospel of Matthew

by Jeff Doles

Preview with Amazon’s “Look Inside.”

Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.