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Scripture Text (NRSV)

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52


13:31 He put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;

13:32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

13:33 He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls;

13:46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

13:47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind;

13:48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.

13:49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous

13:50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

13:51 "Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes."

13:52 And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."



What one thing would I give up everything I own to have? Finding that "one thing" changes us. Finding God in the depths of our hearts changes us forever. I heard the confession of a dear woman who admited for the first time that she needed the forgiveness of God and it totally changed her life. Once she knew she needed God's love --everything was transformed and she became a new person. The old sinner was gone now she was willing to share in God's work. She had to give up her pride in order to realize she needed forgiveness. What do we have to give up to realize that I have the ONE I need? priest in Iowa

Priest in Iowa, I like your approach to the treasure from a spiritual vantage point. Your comment brings to mind all the people who have traipsed through our garage this week looking for that treasure in our periodic family garage sale. A few of these shoppers are so driven, determined that they "garage sale" like it's a life and death enterprise. But they are more like me than I want to admit. I have sometimes daydreamed about acquiring great wealth. The fantastic stories of people opening up the back of an old framed picture bought for a pittance at a garage sale only to discover a priceless copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden there has spurred me to open up old pictures just in case. We are so prone to imagine stumbling onto great wealth unexpectedly. Isn't it ironic that in God's economy NOT owning things makes us wealthy because we are free of the bondage of of materialism? St. Francis and Mother Teresa found the pearl of great price and they like Jesus died without owning any property. Is this gospel Jesus' economic advice to us as affluent Americans today? Deacon in Ohio

Eric in KS

Verse 52 struck me, too. I was wondering if it might be suggesting that the parables bring both old wisdom and new insights --perhaps in response to changing times or circumstances. A "scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven" -- would that be like one who is vocational about the writings and teachings (as opposed to one who is there for the paycheck)? Maybe it connects with the I Kings passage and Soloman's prayer for wisdom? Or could we take it even further, and understand it as the scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven as being one like an artist who brings music to life as opposed to a novice who only plays notes and chords and scales; or in other words as one who has that intuitive grasp of the "spirit of the law" that pervades and gives birth (due to necessity) to the "letter of the law."

I'll be looking forward to others' comments on this, and on the importance of Jesus' question in verse 51 - "Have you understood this?"

Janice in Ks

I'm glad the disciples "got it." I'm struggling, myself. Does anyone else notice that in this collection of 4 parables there are 2 different messages? The first 2 (seed and yeast) seem to say a little goes a long way. The second 2 parables(pearl and fish) seem to say scrap the much and hold on to the little.

So, which is the Kingdom; rampant increase, or weeding out, or both? Is the master of the house the one who holds up for consideration both that which has stood the test of time and also the "new thing", celebrating both increase and stability? I'm shooting from the hip, here. Love me enough to correct me if I'm wrong. tom (back)in TN(USA)

Eric - I had another thought about verse 52. Do you suppose it could be about being trained to see the sacred in the secular, about thinking theologically about common things? And perhaps is an invitation to us, then, to look around and see the kingdom of heaven surrounding us. . . Still pondering in Ks. --Janice

Eric, I don't claim to know exactly what vs 52 means but for what it's worth here is what I think.

I think that the treasure of a scribe is the writings that the scribe is a "keeper" or "steward" of- being trained in the preservation and transmission of. To be trained for the kingdom of heaven (and this is maybe reaching) would be to view the all sacred writings now through the lens of the Christ event. ( Before his departure, Christ opens the minds of his followers to be able to see him in the Scriptures)

The Hebrew Scriptures then take on different meanings for Christians than they do for Jewsih people. For Christians the treasure of Christ is "buried" or contained in the Hebrew Scripture but not evident to non-Christians.

Pr.del in Ia

Bill Loader at Murdoch Univ. in Australia has this to say about v. 52:

"3:52 has Jesus go on to speak of the scribe trained for the kingdom of heaven. Just as Jesus taught with authority and not as their scribes, according to 7:29, so the disciples are to be better scribes, but scribes nevertheless (so also 23:34). The good scribe or interpreter is one who both draws on tradition (scripture) and draws on contemporary experience as a parable of God's reality in the world, thus on both old and new."

Makes sense ... sort of.

Blessings, Eric in KS

Could the theme be "surprises." Surprise is when the mustard seed grows into a large plant from a small seed. Surprise is when the man gives all he has to buy the field with the treasure. Surprise is when you see what kinds of fish you've cught in a net. God's kingdom is often a surprise. We don't always like that surprise, but we are surprised nevertheless. Lutheran Interim Pastor, Illinois

Solomon seems to show us how we can best deal with God's surprises. Prayer is the best way. He is overwhelmed (as we often are also) by the enormity of the job ahead of him. He asks God for the wisdom to execute the job to God's glory. Note also when Solomon later tries his own methods to rule Israel, he causes the rift that eventually splits the kingdom into North and South and imports idolatry that ruins the worship of the true God. Lutheran Interim Pastor, Itasca, IL

I suspect verse 52 speaks of the teaching of those given the gift of teaching and also those given the gift of preaching. These people must bring both old and new insights out of God's Word for all to hear. This is only good teaching and preaching. Other gifted people might also bring old and new insights and abilities to the Church. We are presented with quite a challenge here. Lutheran Interim Pastor, Itasca, IL

I have an idea! If we go with the idea that the kingdom of God is like a surprise, why not surprise our church members? I am thinking about putting a silver dollar in one bulletin, maybe a gift certificate for a pizza in another,and I have to come up with some other things. Then as part of the sermon I could ask people how they felt about the surpises they found. What do you think? PH in OH

Tom in TN-

To pick up on and expand your thoughts? I?ve been struggling, too, and can see two sets of two parables with two different points. (why not sets of three? we like threes, don?t we!)

Anyway, a way to look at all this is that the seed and yeast (or sourdough, which is an even richer image of ?like growing in like?) are images of growth from small beginnings. The pearl and fish images illustrate the great value of what (or more properly whom) we seek as we grow.

The application, then, is that we in the church are called by God to seek growth beyond our current smallness? not for self-aggrandizement but for the sake of the valuable souls God wants us to reach on his behalf.

BTW, growth is not just in numbers. I?m using these parables along with the normal summer slump to encourage the use of a spiritual gifts inventory to prepare our members for ministry as the busier fall comes again.

Steve in Delta, BC

Steve in Delta, BC, commented, "BTW, growth is not just in numbers."

Right! Check out Loren Mead's book "More than Numbers" from the Alban Institute. He does a good job discussing the other sorts of "growth" (e.g., spiritual maturity) that we are called to do.

Blessings, Eric in KS

I've never been a three-point kinda guy, but it looks to me like we do have three sets parables here:

1. Mustard seed and yeast -- small things yielding big returns.

2. The value of the small things (treasure in field, pearl of great price) warrants the effort put into finding them.

3. The effort requires some discernment, sorting through a bunch of stuff, some worthless, to find the good (sorting the catch of fish).

I probably would have arranged them in a different order, but hey, Matthew didn't ask me to edit his work.

Blessings, Eric in KS

I like the 3-pointer. I now realize I miscounted the parables. there are 6, 3 pairs! Seed and yeast, are things which were intentionally worked into the soil and flour to get an increase. The treasure hidden in the field and the pearl hidden in a shell were fortuitous discoveries, surprizes, and opportunities siezed upon to get unexpected riches. The fishermen and the householder were those who sorted the good and bad, the new and old to find and hold onto the best. Having seen things grow in the past, and finding new surprizes all around us in the present, keeps us looking toward the future with confident hope and expectation. How's that? tom in TN(USA)

What is new and what is old.

Old wine is good. New wine is not. Which is the treasure?

New clothing is good. Old clothing can be tattered and worn (out). Which is the treasure?

Some things become more precious with age, and their meanings sometimes change. A photograph of my mother means so much more now that I can no longer look upon her face. The old scriptures now mean so much more now that they are interpreted, or redefined, by Christ.

Still treasure... the scriptures are old, but Christ is new, dramatically new to the disciples, and to us?


O.K. Pastor mary in Ohio is HYPER! (ADHD self diagnosed haha! ) I had Volunteer Chaplain duty de-esculating! Scool of Christian Missons this week TOO Getting ready to study Mexico and the Scandulous Message of James-Faith w/o works is dead. I was thinking about the biblical patriarchs and how if they were like, today they'd have have their own TV Show and Theme Song haha, so, here's a few examples! Adam and Eve-"Bye Bye miss american pie drove my chevy to the levy but the levy was dry- them good ole boys drinking whiskey and rye- saying this will be the day that I die! Don McClean version (not Madonna's); the serpent's-"I'm on Fire" by Bruce'the boss' Springsteen; 4him's-half of my blood is Cain's Blood, half of my blood is able's; Enoch-"Rapture" by Blondie; Methusalah-"He's an old hippie" Bellamy Brothers; Noah-"Rain" by Modonna; Ham,Shem and Japheth-"There's got to be a morning after Posiden adventure" ; Abraham and Sarah-"Faith" George Michel; Ismael-"BORN TO BE WILD!"; Issac-"Family Tradition" Hank JR; Jacob-"Do the Velcro Fly-(leah and rachel get it) by ZZ TOP; Esau-"Rough Boy" ZZ TOP; Leah and Rachel-"Girls just wanna have fun"Cindi lauper;Joseph-"Sharp Dressed man" ZZ top Moses-"You light up my Life" with Shekinah Glory!;Rehab-"I'm looking for a new love" by jodi watley; Ruth-Love will find a way-Amy Grant-Gill;Deborah and Huldah- I am woman! by helen reddy; Saul-"Drive me crazy" Brittany Spears; Witch of Endor-"Ghostbusters!" by ray parker JR; David-"HERO" by Bonnie Tyler; Michal-"Infatuation" Rod Stewart; Delilah-"Betty Davis Eyes" Jezabel-"Devil with the blue dress on" Ahab-" Our love's in Jepardy"; Daniel-"It is Superstition writing on the wall" Stevie Wonder; OK That's it... Just thought modern spin on some patriarchs...sermon in somewhere...maybe to use with your teens...Pastor Mary OH

A poorly retold tale from the Hasedem (sic) Deke in TX – Pace e Bene

Isaac was a poor Jew among poor Jews. He had a dream that there was a treasure under the bridge in the city. Things were so bad in Isaac's household that Isaac thought, "I'll follow my dream for there is little for my family to eat."

After a few adventures he made it to the city and sure enough, there was the bridge of his dreams. It was heavily guarded. Isaac thought that he would wait until night and the moon to set.

In the dark of the night he made his way under the bridge to the spot where the dream treasure was buried. A cold wind blew off the river as Isaac scraped at the hard ground. Above on the bridge one of the guards heard the noise and came down to investigate.

Ivan was amused to see the ragged man digging in the river bank in the middle of the night, "Ho! What do you thing you are doing, Jew?"

Isaac, thought, "I was so close, maybe he will share." " Sir, I had a dream that there is a treasure buried here."

Ivan laughed out loud, his guffaws echoing from the far side of the river, "You stupid Jew, why if I was as stupid as you, following a dream, this very minute I'd be in the hut of a man named Isaac who has a treasure buried under his stove. It's just a dream, get out of here, I would arrest you but for the fine joke. Go on, Fool, before I change my mind!"

Isaac left this city and returned home. When he got there things were as bad as ever but no worse. He held out his hands to the cold dead stove to the wry amusement of his wife. And then to her surprise he shoved the stove over with a mighty heave,leaving a trail of cinders and clinkers.

"What do you thing your doing, Old Fool?" "Hush, Woman, Help with this stone."

Together they pried up the stone that the stove had sat upon beyond memory. Isaac scooped up the dirt under the stone unearthing a chest. Inside was a king's ransom in gold and jewels.

From a sermon by Barbara Brown Taylor “It is a lot to digest at one sitting, but the striking thing about all of these images is their essential hiddenness-- the mustard seed hidden in the ground, the yeast hidden in the dough, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl hidden among all the other pearls, the net hidden in the depths of the sea. If the kingdom is like these, then it is not something that is readily apparent to the eye but something that must be searched for, something just below the surface of things waiting there to be discovered and claimed... It seems like we ought to start (looking) some place really holy, some place really extraordinary... Unless of course God has resorted to the oldest trick in the book and hidden it in plain view. There is always the possibility, you know--that God decided to hide the kingdom of heaven not in any of the extraordinary places that treasure hunters would be sure to check but in the last place that any of us would think to look--namely, in the ordinary circumstances of our everyday lives--like a silver spoon in the drawer with the stainless, like a diamond necklace on the bureau with the rhinestones--the extraordinary hidden in the ordinary, the kingdom of heaven all mixed in with the humdrum and ho-hum of our days, as easy to find as an amaryllis bulb in the dark basement that suddenly sends forth a shoot, or a child’s smile when she awakes from sleep, or the first thunderstorm after a long drought, all of them signs of the kingdom of heaven, clues to all the holiness hidden in the dullest days. Jesus knew it all along. Why else would he talk about heaven in terms of farmers and fields and women baking bread and merchants buying and selling things and fisherman sorting fish, unless he meant somehow to be telling us that the kingdom of heaven has to do with these things, that our treasure is buried not in some exotic far off place that requires a special map but that “X” marks the spot right here, right now, in all the ordinary people and places and activities in our lives." Jeff in NJ

Pastor Mary, ease back on the caffiene, babe. Ha! Loved your top 40. Keep them coming!

Deke, There's no place like home. There's no place like home! Thanks for the story. Magi in the Middle

About v. 52-- from the IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament: The law and wisdom were often compared with treasure (and sometimes wtih a pearl); scribes, who were specially conversant with the law, naturally had the "old" treasure, and the message of the kingdom gave them something new. ... Some scholars have suggested that Matthew's Gospel addresses especially Christian scribes whose vocation is to disciple the Gentiles to the greatest teacher, Jesus." (p. 84) So, I suppose they had the old, the law; and the new, in the Kingdom of Heaven. the old and the new together.

I'm thinking of ancient/future type things... the old story in new skin; the continuation and new growth of the seeds that have been planted in the past. One of the churches I pastor is embarking on a new journey and just got a jumpstart-- God planted a seed and the vision is bearing fruit! I want to build this on the vision that they have pursued in the past... just some thoughts.

E in PA

I neglected to say that this is my third and final sermon in a series called "sowing seeds." That's why I'm focusing on the mustard seed. (first one: Sowing seeds: good soil; second, "weed or feed," and third, "from small to great."

E in PA

Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is exactly this or that.” The Kingdom of Heaven is elusive. It is beyond description. No word can accurately define it. No image can full portray it. No, the Kingdom of Heaven may be like this or that. It may possess some of the qualities of a fine pearl or a vast treasure. But it is not any of these things. The Kingdom of Heaven is not something to be described, as much as it is something to be experienced.

The greatest truth is not that the kingdom of heaven is like anything, but that the kingdom of heaven IS! The Kingdom of Heaven was ushered in with Jesus Christ and will be fully realized at the final harvest when God will rule over all creation and every knee will bend and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The Kingdom of Heaven is a reality and we are invited to participate in the kingdom that is present and in the kingdom that is to come.

Some early thoughts from Pastor John in CT

Regarding verses 51 & 52:

Eugene Petterson has a refreshing translation in the "Message." It reads: Jesus asked, "Are you starting to understand all this?"

They answered, "Yes."

He said, "Then you see how every student well trained in God's kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it."

Living in rural Maine, this makes a lot of sense to me, and I even know some general store owners who can do this!

Isn't this what we in pastoral ministry are called to offer? What ever people need when they need it, whatever Scripture can apply to one's situation, whatever Word of comfort, or challenge needs to be available at a moments notice. We are to be students, well trained!

A W-G rocky coast Me.

I'm beginning to see God as the pearl merchant. Each one of us is the treasured pearl of great value, for which God sold everything. We have been bought at the cost of the infinite becoming finite in the person of Jesus. The transformation from divinity to defenseless human infant seems like giving everything up to me. Just thoughts. Please comment. Peace. Mike in Saskatchewan

Mike in Saskatchewan,

Mike, you got it. I have heard this text preached many times and the point was about what we found in salvation. The real truth is the "pearl of great value" that God sees in you and I.

JJ in LA

v 52! Could it be the treasures of "anamnesis" and the treasures of "prolepsis"? Incarnational, sacramental spirituality of discovering "Christ within, the hope of glory", of re-living and living the life of Christ the Way, of recovering and recapitulating the treasures of Covenant-making history, revitalized by the Exodus in discovering our contemporary desert, or being baptized again in the Reed Sea, of the anticipatory opening up of past, present, and future before the "kairos" of God's Kingdom come in "realized eschatology" (as witnessed from OK last week). Liturgical theology, as well as aesthetic-spiritual theology, I believe is "rich" in what it has to offer today "for today"! Yet, strangely I also experience a chaos, a confusion, in a dichotomy, in that various forms of "praise???-contemporary???" worship as well as so called "traditional" worship formality, do not begin to connect with this richness of Biblical and Traditional Revelation nor the "Wounded G-D" at work in the dawning Kingdom where justice is rolling down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream in the midst of "abandoned-suffering" humanity sitting outside the gate of the temple-sanctuary. "Hidden treasures" of a dawning Kingdom that comes in us, with us, without us, in spite of us...Is not this the source and resource we have to draw from in the hermeneutical task to which we are called? We are so powerfully rich to work for the transformation of the self-system (our own and others) as well as the transformation of the social-historical-cultural systems of the world and yet perhaps the Church remains frozen, peripheral, as a "paralyzed force" in the face of political-economic-religious-family structures and forces today! Re-reading and praying through T. S. Eliot's "Hollow Man", "Waste Land", and "Chrouses From the Rock" may help in my state of confusion. Or, it may only cause me to enter the deeper realization of "How long, O Lord?" which Isaiah asked of G-d in the 6th Chapter only to hear of a burned over lanf again and a smoldering burning stump in which resided the "Holy Seed"! (PaideiaSCO reflections and confusions in north GA mts)

I am considering the greed that drove the man to hide the treasure and then take advantage of the owner to buy it.

In our world this doesn't seem ethical. In theirs, it was at least questionable and the subject of rabbinical discussion.

But God gave us the desires and emotions and the drive that lead to greed. He just didn’t give them to you so you’d be greedy. He gave them to you so you could desire a relationship with him as much as a greedy man wants money. That’s what the feelings are there for.

Whenever they are misdirected.... When they are aimed at gathering treasures or aimed at getting rich, they are aimed the wrong way.

They should be aimed at knowing God and serving him.  GC in IL

Not so much as a comment on the text as a worship idea: I plan on having different readers stand up where they are and read one of the mini parables as if they were arguing for their position. Then I will ask the congregation if they "have .. understood all this?" (I'll probably have to ask the question twice, telling them after the first time that they should answer out loud either 'yes' or 'no')

For the sermon structure I will be talking about the great love stories of history like Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, Jacob and Rachael, God and us, the pearl of great value.

Steve Hermes Cascade MT.

Perhaps historically, vs. 52 means that the Evangelist is recording this message as a scribe trained for God's Reign contributes new material (Matthean redaction) and old (the Jesus parables as told by himself and as preserved in tradition.)MDH

Steve Hermes, please tell me more. My sermon thoughts around this scripture are about love. I heard an Anglican pastor in the Maritimes preach regarding how much Jesus loved God. And that these parables were an excpression of this love...A love that, like the seed and the leaven may start out small (it only takes a spark) but becomes all consuming.

When we have even a taste of this love, it begins to touch every part of our lives and we, in turn, are enabled to touch the lives of others. In fishnet terms, many are drawn in.

Can you add to this? Or subtract from it?!

iv in British Columbia

"A scribe trained for the kingdom" When there is something wrong with my van, I can read my owner's manual, or take a wild guess -- but I will save time and frustration by taking it to a trusted mechanic who knows what to look for to correct the problem. I should know better (after all, my father owned a gas station with 3 service bays), but I lack the training of that mechanic.

When I have a health problem, I can check the first aid book or try a folk rememdy -- but I will save time and frustration if I go to a doctor who has been trained on what to look for to restore my health. I should know better (after all, my grandfather was a doctor) but I lack the training of that doctor.

When I need something fixed at the parsonage, I can read the do-it-yourself manuals -- but I will save time and frustration if I get ahold of the handy worker in the church who knows what to look for to make things right. I should know better (after all, one of my brothers is a maintenance supervisor for an apartment complex) but I lack the training of that handy worker.

I remember reading somewhere that most anyone can do 90% of the work doctors do -- but that it is the 10% that makes them worth their money. When it comes to matters of faith, most people could do 90% of what we do as clergy -- but it is that 10%, knowing what to look for after being firmly grounded in the scriptures and traditions (the old treasure), and yet open to the movement of the Holy Spirit and the revelation of Christ-in-our-midst (the new treasure), that sets us apart as "scribes trained for the kingdom." Christ has challenged us to see God in common things, common people, common living, so that we might have the common faith, and live as members of the kingdom now.


I haven't had a chance to start reading here yet (though I've printed out a bunch and hope to get to scanning thru it tonight). . . . However, reflecting on the passages in Matthew, I've got a loose framework for where I'm going (and a title, too), as follows:

TITLE: "Jesus Christ: International Man of Mystery"

The mystery of the Kingdom of God.

Clues to the mystery -- the parables.

The greatest mystery ... Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!

-- Are you ready?

-- Are you ready?

-- We know not the day nor the hour. That's a mystery, too, Jesus said.

Still somewhat early ... I may yet go another direction. I preached this 3 years ago, and dealt generally with all of the parables in the text. I may need to focus in more sharply on 1 or 2 this week (leaning toward the yeast). "Come, let us keep the Yeast?" . . . Looking forward to seeing what else has been posted so far.

--- Dave K. in Ohio

P.S. to MTSOfan and Unitedfan . . . I was amused by your exchange last week. I had long assumed MTSO was a "Methesco" flag, but was glad to see someone "call the question." I, too, went to United. UTS may have its shortcomings, but our football team (the Fighting Theologians?) can whip yours any day of the week. ;-)

The first reading fascinates me. All of us do what Solomon is doing in our text - he struggles to find wisdom. We know as pastors that wisdom can sometimes seem like a rare commodity in God's distribution of gifts. I know I am often baffled when confronted with certain ethical decisions (homosexuality being one among many).

This week as we sit down to write our sermons we are again in need of wisdom to discern what God is saying. Commentaries will provide the knowledge, but something else is needed to find wisdom. But what is that something else?

How many times have we struggled to find clever words that might touch at least one life Sunday morning, only to be speechless? I have sat in front of my computer for hours at a time wondering what I am supposed to say. I can almost hear the ticking of the clock get louder as Sunday morning is fast approaching and still I have nothing on my page. So what to do?

A seminary professor once gave me advice. He said the best thing we can do when we are at a loss for words is to pray. I've often thought, in desperation, that I don't need pray right now I need words. But somehow prayer always seems to work. Either I find the words that appear like water into wine, or I find the acceptance that this Sunday won't be my best sermon but I will give it my all anyway.

My point is that as we struggle for wisdom, whether writing a sermon or facing life's challenges, we have the ability to do what God has said, "ask".

I Kings gives us the answer to both Solomon's dilemma, as well as our own dilemma in understanding the Gospel. It says in I Kings 3:5 "ask what I should give you."

God wants us to ask. Imagine that! What a great message for a person faced with a difficult decision. God says that we should ask. This will be foolishness for those who are looking for quick answers, but will appear as wisdom to those who listen to God.

We may not have the answers to everything, but God gives us the ability to make wise choices. God invites us to ask. But the trick here is to listen. Wisdom is not attained only by sages and gurus, it is attained even by babes willing to listen.

Have you understood all this? If not just ask God.

A new pastor from the Jersey Shore...<+><

Finally getting around to reading the NIB commentary on this passage. Interesting note about the yeast parable. Seems that "three measures" of flour would make enough bread to feed 100-150 people! (It is equivalent to about 10 gallons!) It is also the amount of flour Sarai used to make cakes to feed the three "angels".... Thus, the commentator says, the focus here is on "the surprising, miraculous extravagance of the coming kingdom."

Makes sense to me!

Blessings, Eric in KS

PH in OH,

Splendid idea... I LIKE it ... what do we "pursue" as our treaure... do follow our hunger... or are we pursued by it.

My son found out for himself the difference between being followed by a police officer... there is a great difference between THAT and being PURSUED by that police officer. He got his first speeding ticket... don't know if I can use HIS story... at least I'll ask before and if I do use it. :?)

What "drives" us? What "treasure" is found hidden in the rummage sales of our lives?

Good thinking PH and others... I think it's early...

thinking on these things...

pulpitt in ND

A W-G, I was going to mention "The Message",the new Eugene Peterson version. I just picked it up at Annual Conference this summer and have been delighted as read with fresh eyes and ears this dynamic retelling of the old, old story.

I like what the variety of parables says about Jesus the teacher. When he tells one to the planter he then turns and tells it again in terms of the cook. Here's one for the ploughman and here it is again, but for the merchant. This one the outdoorsy fisherman can get, and here it is once more for the domestic householder. No one gets left out. All have a chance to be in. Like Father, like Son. tom in TN(USA)

Just a thought, suppose that the field is the human heart, and that the treasure (soul?or Jesus?) is "found" and buried by God in our hearts, and He pays the ultimate price to purchase the field and the treasure (heart and soul).

This is what I like about parables is that there are so many angles that they hit us. It has been really interesting reading the various takes of the others on this site as we work through this section of Matthew. Deke in TX – Pace e Bene.

In addition to the information about the 3 measures of flour making enough to feed 100-150 people, the NIB also points out how in these parables Jesus uses commonly known symbols and then turns them upside down.

In the parable of the mustard seed, he takes (there is some conjecture in this one) the image of the imperial tree which symbolized empires including apocalyptic imagery of the coming kingdom of God and turns it upside down by making it a mustard plant. The mustard plant is no great tree. It generally gows 2 to 6 feet tall and under extraordinary circumstances may reach 10 feet. So describing the mustard plant as a great tree is in itself a great surprise.

The second image is that of yeast. In Jewish traditions yeast is almost always presented as a symbol of corruption. But Jesus turns it around and presents it in a positive light and uses it to describe the kingdom of heaven.

This all comes from the NIB page 309.

As with the parable of the sower, there is an awesome extravagance in the kingdom of heaven! Seed for all kinds of soil! A mustard seed that grows into a tree! Bread to feed 100-150! The kingdom of heaven is beyond our wildest expectations and dreams!

I appreciated what Sara in GR said about last weeks gospel in the 1999 postings about us not having to wait for the kingdom, we're in it now! We're the wheat and the weeds growing in the field, that's the kingdom and the kingdom is now. But at the same time we have to be aware of the harvest that is coming and work to be wheat and work to help others be wheat. As I saw last weeks parable the goal at the end of the age is to not have any weeds to burn. Such extravagance!

Some very interesting stuff to chew on! Mark in WI

I like Brown Taylor's comment about the treasure being hidden in plain sight. Jesus asked the disciples if they understood. I'm not sure they did. I wonder if the treasure, the pearl, etc. Jesus is speaking of is simply and profoundly himself standing before them, but they don't "see," don't understand. revkate in oregon

I vaguely remember a story from my youth about a king would as so proud and confident of his security and boasted that nothing could be stolen from his Kingdom. He also offered a challenge to everyone that anyone catch stealing would suffer the harshest of punishment, but if anyone could successfully proved that they stolen and had gotten away with it, they would share half his kingdom. There was only one way in and out of the castle and that avenue was guarded by security with special powers of perception.

One day a little boy left the kingdom pulling a little red wagon full of sand. The guards scrutinized the lad and one with special touch perception in ran his fingers through the load and finds nothing being stolen, another with extra vision skills (the ability to see through things) stared into the sand but sand. Finding nothing, they let the boy through.

The next day the lad departed the kingdom again this time with a wagon full of gravel. The guards repeated the search process and finding nothing allowed him again to pass.

This went on for several days with various types of worthless loads- though the guards grew increasingly suspicious they could not find that the boy was stealing anything of value from the kingdom.

Finally the boy requested an audience with the king claiming that he’d been able to steal from the kingdom every day. The king saw the boy and called in the guards. The guards testified that the boy had came through their watch every day but swore on their honor that the boy was lying and had taken nothing except for sand, gravel, dirt and the like.

And the boy said, “Yes, but I’ve also stolen a wagon everyday.”

Pr.del in IA

Hello all...

I was talking to my secretary about my sermon title..."Ruammage Sale Faith"

We got to talking about "Rummage Sale Treasures" that we had experienced... she told about our church rummage one year in which she found a "beautiful piece of slag glass"... "Slag glass?" I inquired... it is then she told me about the refuse of glass blowers and how at the end of the day they created something from the "left overs".

Some are critical of the term "slag" because of its association with the refuse from iron smelting.

Still if you think about it... what do we do with our "slag" at the end of the day? How do we create something beautiful out of the "left overs" of our lives.

To put it another way... "the Kingdom of God could be compared to a piece of glass slag"....

Still working out the details... and glad to be able to THINK OUT LOUD!


pulpitt in ND

Hi, In one portion of the sermon I am planning I will explain a zoetrope, then I will say something about There are 6 parables in the verses selected for today, all of which start with “the kingdom of heaven is like.” Well, what? What is the kingdom of heaven like? To answer that question I want you to quicken your understanding, I want you to make your understanding of the kingdom of heaven to come alive in a new way. The way we will do this will be a little like making little drawings of the meaning the kingdom of heaven and putting those little drawings in a zoetrope or a moving picture machine.

Listen as I read just the first part of each statement Jesus made about what the kingdom of heaven is like: · The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed · The kingdom of heaven is like yeast · The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field · the kingdom of heaven is like …fine pearls; · the kingdom of heaven is like a net [with]fish of every kind · the kingdom of heaven is like …treasure [that ]is new and…old.

Notice that in each of those statements the kingdom of heaven is like some THING; like an object—a seed or a treasure. But if you look more closely you will notice that the kingdom of heaven is really more like an action associated with the thing. For example: The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour. So if we look for the life, the action in the parables we find that the kingdom of heaven is: · like planting a mustard seed that grew · like working yeast into the bread and causing it to rise · like finding and buying treasure that is in a field · like finding and buying a pearl · like catching fish in a net · like bringing out treasures new and old

Action is important. Planting the seed, working the yeast into the bread, buying the field, all of these require action....

Hope this is helpful to someone. In His Name, Leon