This article is about Heaven according to the Gospel of Matthew. All Bible references are taken from the New Living Translation (NLT) bible version.
The best way to know about a place is to ask its dwellers, thus Jesus Christ is the best of people to define how Heaven feels, looks like, operates, what it takes to get there and many more about it. The Kingdom of Heaven is declared by Jesus Christ as a place of many secretes (Matthew 13:11) but such secretes are often easier to understand when revealed through parables. However, this is not to say that Jesus in some portion does not talk about Heaven without the use of parables.
I have, for a number of times, read through the entire Gospel according to Matthew and discovered that Jesus actually spoke more about Heaven than He did about Hell. The first thing we learn is that the Kingdom of Heaven is near (3:2; 10:7), which I shall expound on as the first point and then consider other lessons on the subject.
Jesus’ talk on Heaven
Next I discuss the following points on how Jesus revealed Heaven to us:
The Kingdom of Heaven in near
People who are worthy of Heaven
The difficulty and barriers of getting into Heaven
Heaven is secure
Benefits of making it to Heaven
The worth beyond everything else Heaven is (should be) to mankind
- The Kingdom of Heaven is near
Jesus instructed His disciples to spread the message that the Kingdom of Heaven is near (10:7). In this portion, we see Jesus confirming the message of John the Baptist as recorded in chapter 3 verse 2.
One may then ask, “How is Heaven near when after over 2, 000 years the world has not come to an end?” Everyone is near to the point of entering eternity whether through death or rapture. Comparatively, very few people will experience rapture but multitudes will die. The point John and Jesus are bringing on here is that people must prepare themselves for Heaven or they will miss it. Life is short as we all know it and as confirmed in James 4:14.
In any case, Heaven has Good News that Jesus taught the world about (4:23).
- People who are worthy of Heaven
The poor are worthy of Heaven (5:3). Accordingly, these are people who realise the need for God in their lives. Jesus adds that those who are persecuted for doing right are worthy of Heaven (5:10). Not only are they worthy of Heaven, but a great reward awaits them there (5:11 – 12). Whether we consider the notion of being poor spiritually or otherwise, it is worth noting that Jesus in the Gospel of Luke 18:25 is quoted saying that it is easy for a camel to get through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Those who believe the message of Jesus Christ and repent of their sins (21:28 – 32) are worthy of Heaven. No wonder this portion reveals that even prostitutes and tax collectors will get into the Kingdom of Heaven before even His disciples because they believe in the message of Jesus Christ. Graduating from this, people should move on to produce proper fruit to maintain the Heaven worthiness quality (21:43).
Those that will make it to Heaven will be given levels of greatness. This is revealed when talking about the position of John the Baptist in Heaven (11:12). He then gives a clear definition of who will assume the position of being the greatest in Heaven upon questioning by the disciples and these are childlike people with no sins (18:3 – 4).
Clearly, bible characters that made it to Heaven have been positioned according to their greatness. I deduce from this that a believer who makes it to Heaven should not expect to be positioned next to Abraham when they have not done works similar to those of Abraham. The same applies for Paul, Daniel, David and many more. I perceive that there is pain associated with this positioning.
- The difficulty and barriers of getting into Heaven
The road that leads to Heaven is narrow and a few find it (7:14). As such, it is not everyone that call Jesus ‘Lord! Lord!’ who will enter into Heaven but those that do the will of the Father (7:21). The will of the Father is not easy to meet in totality. It is humanly impossible but with total reliance on God, it is possible (19:26).
Jesus uses the parable of the ‘Wheat and Weeds’ to unveil that Christians will live in the world with all sorts of people, endure their influence but at harvest time Christians will stand out (13:24 -30). The people that are referred to as weeds are people of the devil (13:38). Later on in chapter 22:1 – 13, Jesus shares a parable of ‘The great feast’ where we learn that we may as many as we can, get into Heavens doors but be rejected for our dirty garments. I believe that this is the garment of righteousness referenced in Isaiah 61:10. Jesus then says, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (22:14).
Another parable Jesus shared that give similar sentiments are that of a ‘Fishing Net’ (13:47-50). Similarly, evil people will be removed from the good and their destiny will be terrible.
A forgiving heart is a must if you are to make it to Heaven. The parable of “The unforgiving debtor” found in chapter 18 from verse 21 to 35 demonstrates how we should be considerate of others in our daily affairs. God has forgiven us and therefore we also must forgive others, it does not matter the magnitude of the offence. The call to forgive is also part of the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples, which is commonly referred to as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.
If you are married, it is a little more difficult for you to enter Heaven. That is why some choose not to marry for the sake of Heaven (19:12). There things that the married are exposed to that can lead to alienation with God. Examples include failure to raise children in a way that God wants, being unfaithful to each other, colluding on sinful practices, etc.
Similarly, the rich also have less chances of entering Heaven (19:24). Being a person of great earthly treasures is a potential barrier to making it to Heaven as confirmed by Jesus when He taught that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
As we journey into the Kingdom, we must know that each one of us has a unique lane to walk yet the reward is the same Heaven. This is made clear in the parable of ‘The vineyard workers’ (20:1 – 16). The important thing to observe is to do what you are called to do for the duration of your time on the call, which is your lifetime and never compare rewards given to others whom you believe have worked less than you. In the parable of ‘The three servants’, Jesus explains that we are individually expected to work at multiplying or increasing outputs from the gifts God has given us (25:14 – 30). If we fail, we risk being rejected at the time of judgement.
Being ready for Heaven is a daily or even every moment call to the believer. Jesus likened it to the ten virgins of which five were wise and the other five foolish (25:1-13). There is no moment a Christian ought not to abide by the guiding Word of God. As already mentioned, it is humanly impossible to achieve this yet very possible through God (19:26).
To be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, one must obey God’s laws and teach them to others (5:19). Furthermore, getting into Heaven calls for diligence in righteousness. The yard stick is that it must be beyond that of the teachers of religious laws and Pharisees (5:20).
By all means the person who intends getting into Heaven must stand firm in the Word of God. All that it teaches such a person must practice it and teach it to others as well. This can be done in many ways. This includes social media updates of all forms; videos, audios, chatting, etc. The reward for that is that once in Heaven, that person will be called great. This Heaven is God’s throne (5:34b), He dwells there (5:45a, 48b; 6:9, 14).
- Heaven is secure
Treasures stored in Heaven are secure and safe from moth and rust yet the Kingdom of Heaven grows continually (13:31 – 33). No thief can break in to steal heavenly treasures. Heaven is the ultimate secure place even at an individual level (6:19 – 20).
- Benefits of making it to Heaven
Those that eventually make it to Heaven, including gentiles, will be sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the heavenly feast and dine with them (8:11). This means the greatest joy that a person can ever hope for.
- The worth beyond everything else Heaven is (should be) to mankind
Heaven is a treasure beyond anything else man could desire. This is unveiled in the parable of the ‘Hidden Treasure and the Pearl’ (13:44 – 46). Heaven is a treasure one should work hard to secure, just like the farmer who sold everything he had just to gain possession of the field where the treasure was hidden. Similarly, the merchant that found the precious pearl and sold everything he had just to buy it. There is nothing in this world that should stand in a way of a believer that will make him/her loose Heaven.
Indeed Heaven has a lot more secretes found in the Word of God, which also cannot cover everything that there is to say about Heaven. I wanted to keep this article within the writing of Saint Matthew.
I believe you know that Jesus cannot tell a lie. History has it that what He said would happen did happen. Similarly, what He says about Heaven is true. We have every reason to believe that what He said would happen which we haven’t seen yet will indeed happen at the right time.