Matthew 13:31-33, 44-46
We have discovered that the thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel is plumb full of kingdom-of-heaven parables. Anyone interested in God’s things can here acquire a better grasp of kingdom truths, for such was Jesus’ intent in this girdle of parables that produces a midriff bulge in Matthew’s Gospel.
The Mustard Seed
Now put your finger on the parable of the mustard seed (vv. 31-33). We’ve already had other parables of seed, field, and growth, so we ask ourselves: “Now what does Jesus emphasize in this one?”
Well, He emphasizes the kingdom qualities of sturdiness and sheltering. In brief, migrators find the outreaching branches of the Kingdom, settle in, establish their homes and raise their families in the shelter of God’s kingdom of grace. We like this because we are rich with such experiences in our congregational family.
Next we follow Jesus into the kitchen. There’s a truth hidden in the housewife’s bakery. The yeast (leaven) she uses does its job from the inside out, doesn’t it?
And although the yeast does its job quietly and gently, it does a most thorough job which cannot be brought to a halt short of a hot oven. Aha! We deduce that when the hand of God blends His Word into human hearts, and when the Word comes into vital contact with all particles and layers of our life, God makes it work (ferment, actually) in a quiet, powerful, unstoppable way. And it keeps on expanding until it has done its job.
We thank God for working like that with us!
The Hidden Treasure
Now skip down to verse 44. Imagine that on a cross-country hike in old mining territory you stumble upon a moldering cabin, and as you nudge around in a trash pile nearby in hopes of uncovering a relic, you see the glint of a cluster of gold nuggets. Wouldn’t you rush to town, identify the parcel in the plat book, pay the back taxes, and purchase the plot, if you could? Why? Because you recognize your opportunity to possess an overlooked treasure, that’s why!
So it is that a person idly wandering through the Bible may happen to noticed the gold of God’s gift in Christ Jesus. Dare he hope to lay claim upon it for his very own? When he finds out that he may, he publicly stakes his claim on it.
That’s how some folks stumble upon the kingdom of heaven and acquire salvation, sort of “by accident.” Hallelujah!
The second of the “treasure” parables (vv. 45-46) diverges from the accidental-discovery aspect to the slant of purposeful pursuit.
Here’s the serious minded truth seeker (perhaps a nobler version of church shopping) who makes it his business to research all religions; thus he reads the Koran; he dabbles in the literature of Eastern religions; he studies the philosophies of Marxism and New Age; but he does not feel satisfied with these plastic imitations.
In his study of the Bible he then discovers the Pearl of all pearls, the Genesis Prototype, the legendary Gem counterfeited by others; he beholds the iridescent Pearl produced by God’s own Son devoting Himself to the tedious job of covering over the grit of human sin with layer upon layer of His own works for sinners, and the Father–upon inspection–has decreed that He is totally satisfied with the resulting flawless pearl. This is the Pearl which God Himself has produced!
When he learns that this is the way the kingdom of heaven is available to him, he latches onto the priceless treasure of Jesus’ righteousness with a rejoicing heart.
Same to you. Amen!
–Prof. Em. Paul R. Koch