While the church exists in this world, its ultimate end is beyond the fallen world’s finite horizons. As Reformed theologian and pastor Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563) reflects on the text from John 6 about Christ sitting down with his disciples immediately before the feeding of the five thousand, he sees and image of the coming kingdom, with the church lifted up to the presence of the Lord, delivered from the pain and turmoil of its earthly existence.
An Image of God’s Kingdom
“When Christ sits with the disciples on the mountain he presents a beautiful image of the dispensation of the kingdom of God taken up by Christ. For the kingdom of God in this world is a mountain in the desert. Thus, Christ compares his church with a city placed on a hill.Certainly they do not sit or live in the vanities of this world but on the mountain of God’s kingdom, where Christ sits. On this hill the Lord sits with his own, whom he chose and conveyed upwards from the low desert of this world to the high places of true faith, piety and a heavenly manner of life. What else, I ask, is it that Paul says: “Our dwelling place is in heaven”? . . . And what does the church sing? “Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.” For where do Christ’s faithful sit? That is, where do they find rest? Certainly they do not sit or live in the vanities of this world but on the mountain of God’s kingdom, where Christ sits. In that place they are true; they sit and live where they love, which is why they are refreshed. That conveyance to rest, found on the mountain of God’s kingdom, begins in this life. It will obtain its fullness and perfection in the future after we have departed from this valley of miseries to the heavenly places, delivered from all the troubles of this life by the benefit and intervention of death. There we shall sit and rest with Christ forever.”
Commentary on John 6:3.
RCS Series: The Church in Context
Wolfgang Musculus | The Church and the World
Katharina Schütz Zell | The Church and the Kingdom
Philipp Melanchthon | The Church and the State
Wolfgang Musculus | The Church and the Churches