Three parables: the treasure, pearl & fish. Mt 13:44-52 WBC 1/9/2 pm
The good thing about parables
- had lots on parables. Want to re-visit because God has re-visited me on it! These ones
That’s the great thing about parables
- so much in them. As many ‘truths’ as there are facets
- So good for the HS to ‘continue to lead you into all truth’
MT 13:52 He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."
- = very best way to learn. Let the individual do the
- inquiring. Asking questions. Coming to conclusions.
- = certainly true that for many people (children) if you tell them to do something, believe something… it’s counterproductive
The traditional interpretation
Almost puts these parables in reverse order:
- hell is a real reality. The fish are going to be separated… and it is possible you might be on the wrong side SO
- get converted
- get serious
- get telling others
- go get the treasure and pearl
- ie start with fish (judgement, fear) and then go to the good bit, the pearl/treasure
OR, the most gracious we get is:
- we’re the merchant
- there’s this treasure, this pearl… and when you find them you WILL just be so overjoyed (true!) that you will want to give up everything you have to possess them so
- go searching now
- pursue the Kingdom of God, now.
- It’ll be worth it
- Hunt hard, because the rewards are out of this world
- Give and give up so you can possess what is of eternal worth and eternal joy
Of course, all of these aspects ARE true in one sense
- it is true you only get out what you put in
- need to put God first. Joy comes with that
But the motivation to DO this often evades us… or runs out
- “I’ve been seeking so long and now I’m just tired”
- And so does the joy. It’s chicken and egg. Which comes first the joy or the pursuing?
- We put the pursuing in first
- (true, eh: seek the Lord that He may be found)
- but our faith really becomes one of WORKS, best summarised by the phrase ‘work harder’
- we know it’s about grace… but we’re so eager to do good, seek and find… please Him… find this treasure… joy
- that it really becomes about WORKS rather than GRACE
- and God becomes the divine Hoover. Always sucking more.
- And we pull ourselves up by our boot laces to ‘press on to know the Lord’ singing ‘don’t let my heart grow cold, I’m calling out, light the fire again’
Actually –this ‘WORKS’ approach CAN be more damaging than we think, long term
- not only is it the gospel turned upside-down
- but eventually we become
- unwilling to ‘go for it’ with the Lord, because our ‘going for it’ has just meant our ‘get up and go’ has ‘got up and gone gone’
- immune to the challenge to really get serious with God… go on with Him
- even when the word/challenge comes right from Him!
YES- we love the Lord, we want to follow Him, but
- if we’re honest it takes second place (to fun, family and other things)
- we are cool to challenge about ‘commitment’. Giving more to him
I’m exaggerating- but this is a very real experience for many. For some of you.
- Illustr: Sheena. ‘Challenged out’
- Illustr: Steve and Gwen, Richard, have stopped going to church
- Illustr: someone else (last week). Just gave up
Of course, this is not what these parables are saying, or produce if rightly applied: but if
- we put the fish (fear, law)
- then see ourselves as the merchant hunting for the pearl (which is the KOG)….
… this CAN be the result.
A fresh look
But, let me use Jesus’ approach to
- help you gain fresh insight into these parables
- ie ask you questions- so you can discover the answers for yourselves
It doesn’t tell us who the merchant is. It just says ‘The Kingdom of heaven is like’. Like what? Like the pearl? Like the process?
So- who might the merchant be?
… who else?
- answ: God
In which case: what is the peal that the merchant is searching for
- (or WHO is the pearl the merchant is searching for?)
- answ: you!
So: what is the KOG like?
It is like God… the Father… Jesus… the shepherd… seeking for a precious pearl
- and in order to have that pearl of GREAT value and worth…
- ……………He gives up… sacrifices EVERYTHING!!
Or, the Kingdom of heaven is like God, finding you… his treasure… in a muddy field….
… and in His JOY… His great love for you….. He goes and sells all that He has in order to buy you.
Oh my word! Wow!
- now that’s a bit of a Tommy turnaround!
- And it’s a perfectly allowable interpretation of this parable.
- I believe The HS showed me fresh insight into this (via someone else)
And there’s even more insight that you can gain from this interpretation
The Treasure is in a field
The treasure is in mud!
“we have this treasure in jars of clay” 2 Cor 4:7
- the treasure isn’t all neat and clean. It’s real, earthy, sullied, in a bit of a mess.
- Broken. These clay jars easily get broken.
- Christ didn’t die for us when we were perfect. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Roms 5:8
- He didn’t wait for us to get our act sorted out… be righteous… before he searched for us, got joyful
- “you did not wait for me to draw near to you”
- “while the son was still a long way off, the Father saw him”
So- there’s no room for this thinking ‘what I DO will make Him love me more… bring His blessing…
- He is overjoyed… sells everything… gives up everything… His life even… when you’re covered in mud!!!
The first 2 of these parables, basically, are about His GRACE.
- His pre-venial grace. His grace that got there and found us… touched us… touched our lives… helped us to respond….
- Even before we’d THOUGHT about Him. While were muddy and still a long way off
He buys the whole field
Now- here’s some other insight. And it could almost give the wrong (incomplete) impression if it weren’t followed by the FISH.
- but note: we haven’t got to the fish, yet!
- let’s stick with the good bit. The GRACE bit. Let’s be happy to stay with the treasure and pearl… before our insecurity… or our need to feel elite or elect… or our need to earn favour… takes us prematurely to the fish.
“What’s the field?”
- if God’s the merchant (or treasure hunter), and we’re the pearl, the treasure.
- What’s the field???????
- Answ: society. The world. All people
Christ bought the whole world. He died for the sins of the world. The whole world. All of creation. He buys the whole field
- so He might have us within it.
This IS in the Bible.
- 1 Jn 2:2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
- 1 Cor 5:14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
- 1TI 4:9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10 (and for this we labour and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe.
Now. Some of us start getting a bit insecure at times like this. Even though these passages ARE there in the Bible (and we say we honour the Bible)
- we’d rather they weren’t
- we like to skip over them
But can you see why SOME are universalists? Can you? They are not blind buffoons who don’t like the Bible. THEY see it IN the Bible!
- so: some universalists may well be brothers and sisters! Eh?!
- They love God, Jesus and people
So: let’s be frank, open and honest. What is this saying?
- Jesus died for the sins of everyone. The whole world. Every dirty rotting jewel, pearl…. That He loves SO much
- Christ’s sacrifice… price paid… was enough for the sins of the whole world. Everyone
- The cup run’s over. The blood of Christ is super-sufficient
- In fact: He died to redeem ALL of creation. The world. Every bit
- It all matters to Him. He loves it all. We should love the whole of creation, too.
This is ALL incredible good news: and I shall return to it. As this overwhelming love is what I want to leave us with
But: then comes the parable of the fishes: which tells the rest of the story. (but it comes after the grace)
- not everyone will accept this incredible grace… love… sacrifice
- it’s their own fault: because the sacrifice IS sufficient.
- But they’ll reject Him. His offer. His sacrifice. LIFE. Redemption
- They don’t want to be pulled out of the mud, cleaned off and polished up. They rather like the mud. And “who are you to tell me I need cleaning up, anyway!” I don’t need it
And God: respecting the free will he has given them, us- will let them have their way. To exist without His presence. Cast out of the net where they will regret it deeply.
But- back to the good bit of the parable… story… kingdom of God. Back to 1) treasures and pearl first 2) then fishes
- isn’t this good news? You’re his pearl, treasure. He gave up everything for you
- isn’t THIS motivation to sacrifice… love… in return
- not out of LAW
- but out of His GRACE. Kindness.
- “It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance” Rom 2:4
And this is SO liberating!
- truth is: many of us have believed a lie about God. We think He doesn’t like us… yet alone love us… and that He’s eager to judge/disapprove…. And we need to appease Him
- and it has bound us up
- the REAL truth is:
- He is SLOW to anger and abounding in love
- He loves us because He loves us because He loves us
- He’s full of joy over us.
- He’d give up everything for us.
…. And He even likes us as well!
THIS is the truth. And you shall know the truth and it shall set you free
- if the Son sets you free you shall be free indeed
Lord, let your glory fall
Nothing in this world
Father, I want you to hold me