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
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
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
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
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
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
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 today...so 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
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
"What do you thing your doing,
Old Fool?" "Hush, Woman, Help with this
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Clues to the mystery -- the
The greatest mystery ... Christ
has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come
-- 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
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
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
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
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
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
Still working out the
details... and glad to be able to THINK OUT
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
Hope this is
helpful to someone. In His Name, Leon