So, let's review. In Matthew 13, Jesus goes to the lake, and because of the size of the crowd, he steps into a boat, and teaches them a little distance from shore. He teaches the parable of the sower, which shows that the Word will produce a harvest, but not with everyone. The soil of the heart must be open and ready to receive the Word, or you have crop failure.
Soon afterwards, the disciples ask Jesus why He uses this teaching method. He explains that the Kingdom of Heaven is being revealed to the disciples and because of the hardness of the people's hearts, the teachings will not be understood by the crowd.
I think He is also warning them not to harden their hearts, or they will lose the privilege of unpacking the secrets of the Kingdom.
He then tells them that the prophets and the righteous people of old would have loved to have heard what the disciples are now hearing. He tells the disciples, "But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear."
The Hope of the Ages, the very One promised so long ago, is now standing in front of the disciples. They are blessed in ways they can't even imagine. They are to possess "the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven." They will walk in the very presence of the Messiah, and are learning of the Kingdom of God from God Himself. The "Word was made flesh, and made his dwelling among us." (John 1:14)
Wow. Then Jesus expounds on the meaning of the sower. It describes perfectly how the crowd will receive His teachings: some will not understand, and instead of seeking earnestly, the devil will show up and snatch the seed away. Some will joyfully receive the word, and then when any conflict arises, they fall away. Some will hear it and yet the cares of this world and its lure of wealth will cause the word to disappear in their hearts.
But those who hear and understand the word? Abundance!
Then Jesus talks about the wheat and the tares. They look similar as they grow, but at the harvest time, it will then be evident who really walked in the ways of the Father, and whose actions were a mere cover for an uncaring and dead heart.
See a pattern here? Jesus is talking about sowing and reaping and what makes for a fruitful harvest. This will happen when someone hears the Word and takes the next crucial step: They seek with all of their heart and mind to understand it.
That includes the disciples as well--Jesus calls everyone to seek and find.
Next, in Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast: seemingly insignificant things that will, in time, have a huge impact.
Then the disciples ask Jesus to explain the wheat and the tares, once Jesus left the crowd.
Obviously, when Jesus is teaching the crowd, the disciples listen along with everyone else. Then, when they can have a private moment, they ask Jesus the meaning of His parables.
Jesus says earlier that "The knowledge of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (Matt. 13:11-12)
While He is speaking of the crowds, I believe that a subtle but imperative warning is aimed at the disciples: You will be tested with what you have learned when I go to the cross. You will need to cling to what you have learned in order to stand tall. You will have an abundance if you seek Me with all of your heart, let your roots go deep, and not allow anything--including death on a cross--deter you from doing what you have called to do.
Now, Jesus switches from the insignificant--little seeds, wheat, mustard seeds and yeast-- to what everyone will agree is important: treasure, fine pearls and nets bursting with fish.
In God's economy, whatever you have that you use lovingly and willingly for God, that makes it valuable, no matter what the world says.
So, let's go to the field where a man found a treasure in verse 44. What was he doing in that field? He was out evaluating the parcel of land before buying it. Was he walking around checking the quality of the soil? Was he looking for evidence of underground water? Was he seeing any areas that needed improving: rocks that needed removing or burrowing animals that needed to be chased out of there? Before he took possession, he looked carefully at what it contained.
But: he was out looking...seeking and then, guess what! Finding! That is the key. He didn't just buy any field sight unseen and then go his merry way. He was looking closely at this particular field and look at what he found! A treasure! Someone hid it there for safe keeping, and now it's his! But to make sure that the treasure is truly his, he reburied it, "and in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."
In looking closely at what this field contained, he found something even better. But he was looking.
Then he was willing to liquidate his earthly assets to obtain something far greater: the kingdom of heaven! Earthly things pale in comparison to heavenly riches!
Then Jesus switches to a merchant--another seeker of valuable things--who finds a pearl of "great value." He see a lot of pearls on his buying trips, and all sorts of other things he can potentially sell.
But one day, as he is looking, he finds not just any pearl, but one of "great value." Meaning that yes, there are other pearls out there that are valuable and will compete for the merchant's money and attention. But his eye is attuned enough to spot one far greater than the others he's seen. He is willing to sell his inventory and with the cash, buy that one pearl.
He probably told the buyer to hold it for him. He may have even given him a deposit. But he wanted it so much that he was not willing to risk it being sold out from underneath him. He hustles to liberate his assets and then hustles back to buy that pearl.
Once he's holding it in his hand, nothing else matters. He will not miss his other possessions. He will not miss his money or trade. He has found what he has been searching for his whole life.
Jesus then finishes His teaching with a net bursting with fish. It has all kinds of fish in it. The net was cast far and wide, to collect up as many fish as it could hold.
Then comes the sorting. The good fish are put into the baskets and the bad fish are cast away.
Jesus then parallels this sorting to the "end of the age." The angels will sort the fish of humanity and those who do not possess the kingdom of God in their hearts, by accepting the Word made flesh, will go into the "fiery furnace."
Who are the "bad fish"? They are the ones who don't give their all to find out Who this Messiah is, and then follow Him wholeheartedly. Their hearts are calloused by sin and they don't see anything of value coming from this Man. They aren't willing to give up earthly things to obtain the riches of heaven, and they aren't willing to see things from God's perspective. Yeast and seeds need time to grow and flourish, and the "bad fish" are too much in a hurry--only wanting to gratify the flesh and leaving the spirit neglected.
Jesus finishes His discourse with asking His disciples if they "understood all these things?" They reply "Yes."
Now, He says that "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old." (verse 52)
Interesting. The disciples are now being designated "teacher(s) of the law about the kingdom of heaven." Whoa. They are not the teachers of the law that are in the Pharisees' club...Jesus excoriates those teachers. He is saying that with great knowledge comes great responsibility, and the disciples now bear this. The "house" is filled with treasures, bequeathed by the Old Covenant (the Law and the Prophets) and the New Covenant, which is Jesus Himself.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 3:21-24:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Seek, ask, knock: The Kingdom of God is for those who actively want what God has prepared for them. Amen.
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