The Gospel of Matthew: The Messiah of Promise 13:44-58
Preached @ Anchor Community Church on March 29th 2015
“The form of a parable helps to shape a heart that is willing to enter an ongoing, interactive, persistent relationship of trust in the teacher. It beckons the hearer to explore new territory. It helps form a heart that is humble enough to admit it doesn’t already understand and is thirsty enough to ask questions. In other words, a parable renders its hearers not as experts, not as know-it-alls, not as scholars… but as children.”
The above Brian McLaren quote really summarizes the reality of God’s revelation. We so often approach it with no awe and wonder. Many of us have been so long in the church, that we have lost the ability to listen to God, and hear Him reveal His eternal word in our hearts. There are those though, who can’t wait for God to reveal something to them, but they aren’t listening to His word, they’re waiting for something new, more exciting. If we are going to hear from God, it’s going to take more than a cursory connection to make that happen. His word and His gospel is so variegated and living that we would miss it looking for morsels to live our life, rather than expensive steak that takes hours to marinate. Proverbs 2:1-5 reminds us of the effort one puts forth to discover a hidden treasure. Instead of looking for something new, it Jesus is calling us to look with wonder at the treasure that is ever before us; His word, His gospel, His story of grace that is “new every morning!”
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, 2 making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; 3 yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, 4 if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”
In our passage today, Matthew is ending another discourse; another segment or theme, building on his theme that Jesus is the promised Messiah, who is here to reveal a brand new kingdom that puts the current one upside down.
Our passages today remind us that following Jesus is worth everything you have! There’s nothing worth more than knowing Him!
From the Head…
The Kingdom of Heaven Is A Great Value (Matthew 13:44-46)
There are some who see the 1st two parables as showing the price that God paid for the establishing of the Kingdom. Whereas that it certainly true (Ephesians 2:8-9), it doesn’t appear to be what the emphasis of these parables are. The emphasis is not in the payment that the land buyer paid or the merchant paid for the pearl; the emphasis is on the worth of the field and the pearl. When both men recognize that worth, they give everything they have to own it, because it is worth more than anything they have. The worth of knowing Jesus far outweighs any kind of sacrifice we would make. When we understand that worth, we have no problem discarding the other pleasures that give us identity, worth and joy!
It is interesting that one of the men was searching after the treasure, while the other man was not; he just appeared to stumble upon it. God acts sovereignly in our lives in many different ways. We all have many choices of “Treasure” in this world, and our passage shows us that the gospel treasure is often hidden and it needs to be sought after and revealed, but when it is found, it is a great source of joy. So much of the world’s treasures speak louder, and vie for our time, talent and treasure, but the things that are truly important and have great worth come upon us in strange circumstances.
The one thing that is important in these 1st two parables, are the fact that this treasure is the only one we need, and that treasure is Christ; not what Christ can do for, but the treasure itself. We are created to be united in Christ to God in this way, and until we are united in Him, we will be searching for other treasures to fulfill that emptiness. To this Paul writes in Philippians 3:8, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” Losing everything we have is worth knowing Christ. In Matthew 19:27-29 he writes, “Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
Sometimes it is hard to realize this, since the eternal joy and life we gain in Christ, is often stifled by the cacophony of sound coming from the world’s treasures promising us everything and delivering little. In reality, when we recognize our new treasures in Christ, it becomes easier to get rid of our old ones. Whether we’re searching for God’s blessings or not, God wants to bless His people with the truth and majesty of His gospel.
Only the Kingdom of Heaven Can Reveal True Kingdom Dwellers (Matthew 13:47-50)
Only God judges those that are His and those that aren’t. We simply don’t know, and I believe there will be a lot of surprises in eternity. When we judge others, we hurt the gospel that we are trying to proclaim. To this, theologian/pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.” The fact is, it is God who will sort out the clean and unclean fish (A reference to Leviticus 11:9-12). God’s judgment will be swift, final and just!
Kingdom Disciples Demonstrate Their Treasure (Matthew 13:51-52)
The fact is, the disciples did not fully understand until Jesus revealed that to them (Luke 24:45), but they were beginning to understand aspects of what He was teaching them. They were becoming attentive to the details and the truths He was revealing to them. The key here is that when they beginning to understand it, they turn their newfound riches into a blessing to others. A “Head of the household” is a landowner and very wealthy, yet he uses his wealth in this parable to bring it out to others. We are called to do the same. We are called to be disciples and make disciples, and this passage reminds us when we are fully trained disciples, we will become givers as a result.
Kingdom Authority Can Be Thwarted By Unbelief (Matthew 13:53-58)
As it is often said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” This is all too true. Many in the church are so familiar with knowledge about Jesus, they no longer know Jesus. It’s a weird paradox, but often too much learning, can breed an apathetic nature to such an incredible God. It is unfortunate to know what God has done intellectually, but fail to believe it internally. Many of those that “Knew” Jesus the closest, disbelieved, demonstrating Jesus’ closeness to humanity.
In reality disbelief is normal, or at least the condition of fallen man, it is faith that is surprising, and a shock when we exercise it. Ultimately it takes faith to walk in Christ, and faith to please God. The writer to Hebrews says that, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” It’s a faith that believes Objectively that God exists, and Subjectively that He is good.
…to the Heart
How well do you understand? Have you become so close to theology that you have forgot whom Jesus is? Is your desire still like a deer that pants for water, or is the stream dried up? Has your walk with God been relegated to the casual relationship that lacks the depth of God’s love? I pray that this year, we can come into an intimate loving relationship with our God even in the midst of our pain and circumstances.
Questions To Ponder
- What is the “Pearl of Great price?”
- Why does it matter here?
- In what way is our time and money in the way of us finding the Kingdom of God?
- In what way do those things cause unbelief in our heart?
For Further Reading
A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Craig S. Keener
The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, Michael J. Wilkins
The Gospel According to Matthew, Leon Morris
Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament 1A, ed. Manlio Simonetti
Sermon On the Mount; Sinclair Ferguson