The term, ‘mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’ occurs only once in two of the gospels – Matthew and Luke. In this post, we will explore what are the mysteries (or secrets as in other translations) of the kingdom of heaven and why are they referred as mysteries.
Teaching of Jesus
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.Matt 13:10-11
Jesus Christ mentions about the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven specifically to show how He hides the actual meaning of His teachings using parables.
All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: “I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.” Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”Matt 13:34-36
As we can see, the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding His kingdom which is His gospel message are the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
Word of God
Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand [it,] then the wicked [one] comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.Matt 13:18-19
Jesus mentions the reason for His usage of parables regarding the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven right in between the parable of the sower and its explanation. The seed is referred as the word of the kingdom of heaven
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.Luke 8:11
In the gospel of Luke, for the same parable of the sower, the seed is the word of God. It is this Word of God which are the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven.
Why the teachings of Jesus are mysteries?
Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. [Their] ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with [their] eyes and hear with [their] ears, Lest they should understand with [their] hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’Matt 13:13-15
The teachings of Jesus Christ which are the Words of God, are mysteries because it is only for those who can hear and also understand, like the good ground in the parable of the sower which bears fruits. The rest will not understand even though they can hear.