1. AN EARLY HINT OF THE SAVIOUR’S SUFFERING
a. What questions did John’s disciples ask Jesus? How did the scribes and Pharisees try to belittle Him in the eyes of the people? Mark 2:18.
“[The Pharisees] sought out the disciples of John the Baptist, and tried to set them against the Saviour. These Pharisees had not accepted the mission of the Baptist. They had pointed in scorn to his abstemious life, his simple habits, his coarse garments, and had declared him a fanatic. . . .
“Now when Jesus came mingling with the people, eating and drinking at their tables, they accused Him of being a glutton and a winebibber. The very ones who made this charge were themselves guilty. As God is misrepresented, and clothed by Satan with his own attributes, so the Lord’s messengers were falsified by these wicked men.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 275, 276.
b. How did Jesus take this opportunity to prophesy of His sufferings? Verses 19, 20.
“It was a bright picture which the words of Christ had called up, but across it lay a heavy shadow, which His eye alone discerned.”—Ibid., p. 277.
2. REVEALING THE FUTURE TO THE DISCIPLES
a. How did Jesus plainly reveal the future to His disciples? Mark 8:31; 9:31.
b. What was Peter’s response? What about the disciples in general? Mark 8:32; 9:32.
c. How did Jesus try to correct the common misunderstanding regarding His kingdom? John 18:36. How do many people confuse His kingdom of grace with the future kingdom of glory?
“Today in the religious world there are multitudes who, as they believe, are working for the establishment of the kingdom of Christ as an earthly and temporal dominion. They desire to make our Lord the ruler of the kingdoms of this world, the ruler in its courts and camps, its legislative halls, its palaces and market places. They expect Him to rule through legal enactments, enforced by human authority. Since Christ is not now here in person, they themselves will undertake to act in His stead, to execute the laws of His kingdom. The establishment of such a kingdom is what the Jews desired in the days of Christ. They would have received Jesus, had He been willing to establish a temporal dominion, to enforce what they regarded as the laws of God, and to make them the expositors of His will and the agents of His authority. But He said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ John 18:36. He would not accept the earthly throne.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 509, 510.
“Now, as in Christ’s day, the work of God’s kingdom lies not with those who are clamoring for recognition and support by earthly rulers and human laws, but with those who are declaring to the people in His name those spiritual truths that will work in the receivers the experience of Paul: ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ Galatians 2:20.”—Ibid., p. 510.
“Many of us are rough stones from the quarry. But as we lay hold upon the truth of God, its influence affects us. It elevates us and removes from us every imperfection and sin, of whatever nature. Thus we are prepared to see the King in His beauty and finally to unite with the pure and heavenly angels in the kingdom of glory.”—Counsels on Health, p. 44.
3. THE FUTURE KINGDOM OF GLORY IN MINIATURE
a. What did Jesus tell the disciples about seeing His future kingdom? Mark 9:1.
b. Who was given a glimpse of His kingdom of glory? Why? Verses 2–4, 7.
“The Saviour has seen the gloom of His disciples, and has longed to lighten their grief by an assurance that their faith has not been in vain. Not all, even of the twelve, can receive the revelation He desires to give. Only the three who are to witness His anguish in Gethsemane have been chosen to be with Him on the mount. Now the burden of His prayer is that they may be given a manifestation of the glory He had with the Father before the world was, that His kingdom may be revealed to human eyes, and that His disciples may be strengthened to behold it. He pleads that they may witness a manifestation of His divinity that will comfort them in the hour of His supreme agony with the knowledge that He is of a surety the Son of God and that His shameful death is a part of the plan of redemption. . . .
“Jesus was clothed with the light of heaven, as He will appear when He shall come ‘the second time without sin unto salvation.’ For He will come ‘in the glory of His Father with the holy angels’ (Hebrews 9:28; Mark 8:38). The Saviour’s promise to the disciples was now fulfilled. Upon the mount the future kingdom of glory was represented in miniature,––Christ the King, Moses a representative of the risen saints, and Elijah of the translated ones.
“The disciples do not yet comprehend the scene; but they rejoice that the patient Teacher, the meek and lowly One, who has wandered to and fro a helpless stranger, is honored by the favored ones of heaven. They believe that Elijah has come to announce the Messiah’s reign, and that the kingdom of Christ is about to be set up on the earth. The memory of their fear and disappointment they would banish forever. Here, where the glory of God is revealed, they long to tarry. . . . The disciples are confident that Moses and Elijah have been sent to protect their Master, and to establish His authority as king.
“But before the crown must come the cross.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 420–422.
c. What did Jesus command the disciples regarding the transfiguration? How did their response show that they did not understand the nature of His kingdom? Verses 8–10.
4. ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE KINGDOM OF GRACE
a. Describe how the growth of the seed relates to the kingdom of God. Mark 4:26–29.
“Christ used other illustrations . . . seeking to turn their thoughts from the hope of a worldly kingdom to the work of God’s grace in the soul.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 62.
“The germination of the seed represents the beginning of spiritual life, and the development of the plant is a figure of the development of character. There can be no life without growth. The plant must either grow or die. As its growth is silent and imperceptible, but continuous, so is the growth of character. . . .
“The plant grows by receiving that which God has provided to sustain its life. So spiritual growth is attained through cooperation with divine agencies. As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, so are we to receive the Holy Spirit.”—Education, pp. 105, 106.
b. How is the kingdom of God like a grain of mustard seed? Verses 30–32.
“The kingdom of Christ in its beginning seemed humble and insignificant. Compared with earthly kingdoms it appeared to be the least of all. By the rulers of this world Christ’s claim to be a king was ridiculed. Yet in the mighty truths committed to His followers the kingdom of the gospel possessed a divine life. And how rapid was its growth, how widespread its influence! . . .
“So the work of grace in the heart is small in its beginning. A word is spoken, a ray of light is shed into the soul, an influence is exerted that is the beginning of the new life; and who can measure its results?”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 77, 78.
c. What will be the result of the seed of the Word growing within us? John 15:5, 8; 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“God desires to manifest through you the holiness, the benevolence, the compassion, of His own character. Yet the Saviour does not bid the disciples labor to bear fruit. He tells them to abide in Him.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 677.
5. THE KINGDOM OF GRACE ESTABLISHED
a. How did God go about to establish His kingdom of grace? Romans 5:6–10.
“The kingdom of grace was instituted immediately after the fall of man, when a plan was devised for the redemption of the guilty race. It then existed in the purpose and by the promise of God; and through faith, men could become its subjects. Yet it was not actually established until the death of Christ. Even after entering upon His earthly mission, the Saviour, wearied with the stubbornness and ingratitude of men, might have drawn back from the sacrifice of Calvary. In Gethsemane the cup of woe trembled in His hand. He might even then have wiped the blood-sweat from His brow and have left the guilty race to perish in their iniquity. Had He done this, there could have been no redemption for fallen men. But when the Saviour yielded up His life, and with His expiring breath cried out, ‘It is finished,’ then the fulfillment of the plan of redemption was assured. The promise of salvation made to the sinful pair in Eden was ratified. The kingdom of grace, which had before existed by the promise of God, was then established.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 347, 348.
b. Who are to be included in the invitation into the kingdom of grace? With what urgency are they to be invited? Luke 14:21–23.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Where does the kingdom of God begin? Why do many people look for a temporal kingdom?
2. What opposite principles exist in God’s kingdom vs. a worldly kingdom?
3. How was the future kingdom revealed to three of the disciples? For what purpose?
4. Describe how the kingdom of grace is compared to the growth of the seed.
5. When was the kingdom of grace instituted? When was it established?