ROOTED IN HIM
Matthew 13:31-35 & 44-52
31-35 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet:
“I will speak to you in parables.
I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.”
44-52 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Do you understand all these things?”
“Yes,” they said, “we do.”
Then he added, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”
v31 & 32 • A man TOOK a mustard seed & planted it. The Kingdom is like the seed. It is small and grows to a significant, even disproportionate size compared to other seed/plant ratios.
Action: taken & planted.
Motive: to grow, produce herbs & lodging.
v33 • A woman TOOK leaven and hid it in meal. The Kingdom is like the leaven. The leaven spread through the 3 measures of meal.
Action: taken & hiden.
Motive: to spread, permeate.
v44 • A man discovered a treasure chest in a field. He hid it, sold all he had and bought the field. The Kingdom is like the treasure. It is only his if he owns the whole piece of land. It is assumed that what he pays for the field is a fraction of the value of the treasure.
Action: discovered, hid & bought.
Motive: to be owned.
v45 & 46 • A merchant found the pearl of his dreams, sold all he owned and bought it. The Kingdom is like the merchant.
Action: discover, sell out & buy.
Motive: joy of ownership.
v47 – 50 • A net was cast in the sea that gathered everything. The Kingdom is the net. Then they (angels v48) pulled it ashore and separated the clean from the unclean. Jesus says this is a picture of the end of the age.
Action: cast in, gather & separate.
Motive: completion of the age, gathering in of all, enter new age.
v35 says Jesus is revealing through these parables secrets that have been untold from the foundation of the earth.(Ps 78:2)
v 52 implies that understanding these parables is like becoming the head of a family, bound by duty to embrace or prohibit even by force, holding final authority to judge everything, old or new.
This is a pretty heavy proposition! So many of us have a natural tendency to assume that kind of authority without hesitation, ignoring the fact that our judgment doesn’t actually change anything.
Authority is something we all want, but authority is a “vested” attribute, a gift. It’s not to be self-assumed. Even Jesus, the Son of God Himself, says, “I have been GIVEN authority…” Mt 28:18+.
To think that a vested authority from God would actually be connected with understanding these parables makes me search very hard for keys that would unlock their deep fountains of truth.
In that search I have seen several connective strings of relationship in these word pictures that have continued to draw me deeper into the search. One of those strings is the “hidden” nature of the initial part of each one. There’s the seed that is hidden by planting, the leaven that is hidden in meal, the treasure hidden in the field. These three are described as hidden with the idea that they will become visible. In growing a crop, the planting always comes before reaping. The initial stage involves hard work with nothing much to show for it except freshly broken soil. The seed becomes a tree, the leaven spreads, the treasure is found. The merchant is willing, as is the drag-net, to obtain everything rather than risk losing or damaging the treasured catch.
Maybe you have some thoughts on these parables that you would like to share. How is the Kingdom of Heaven like a mustard seed or leaven or discovered treasure to you? How does it work like a merchant or a net? I would enjoy reading your insights.