Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: How can someone become a citizen of God’s kingdom and a member of His family? Through Matthew alone of the Synoptic Gospels, he preserves: 1) The Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44), 2) The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value (Matthew 13:45–46

Buried treasure is the stuff of popular stories (a more colorful equivalent of winning the lottery today), but also in the ancient world a more realistic possibility than it is today, even with the help of a metal-detector. Before banking was generally established, to hide wealth in the form of coins, metals or jewels in a jar or box in the ground was a recognized way of securing it, especially in times of crisis; the famous Copper Scroll from Qumran Cave 3 lists the locations of huge caches of precious metals and other buried treasure (perhaps hidden in anticipation of the Roman invasion (France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (540). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.)

Matthew 13 contains a series of parables, true-to-life stories that teach spiritual truth. The Greek word “stories” (13:3), or “parables,” suggests the idea of comparison. Parables often place two concepts, one known, the other unknown, side by side for comparison...Although parables are fictitious stories, they present content and situations that are true-to-life. Parables contain wisdom elements, making them, in some ways, much like the Old Testament proverbs. They show how the truth being taught relates to the hearer, who, but for keen and obedient hearing, might well miss the parable’s personal implications (13:9, 43: cf. 2 Samuel 12:1–7). In order to properly interpret parables we must: (1) Know the original setting in which the parable was given is important for understanding its intended meaning. The known must be understood to make the transference to the realm of the unknown. (2) The central problem of the parable must be discovered. The parables were designed to deal with a particular problem or question. This can usually be discovered from the immediate context or related verses. (3) The central truth of the parable must be determined. Most of the parables focus on one central truth. Even those that have multiple points of comparison are usually designed to answer one question. Why did Jesus teach in parables (Matt. 13:10–23) There were two major purposes: (1) to reveal truth to the receptive (13:11–12) and (2) to conceal truth from the unresponsive—those who rejected Jesus (13:13–15). In addition, Jesus’ use of parables fulfilled prophecy, for Psalm 78:2 predicted that the Messiah would teach by this means (Matt. 13:34–35). (Hughes, R. B., & Laney, J. C. (2001). Tyndale concise Bible commentary. The Tyndale reference library (408). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.).

In the first four of the eight kingdom parables in Matthew 13, Jesus focuses on people’s various responses to God’s kingdom, on its present coexistence with Satan’s kingdom, and on its power and influence in the world. The four preceding parables show how the kingdom is bestowed (sowing seed) and how it operates (growing, permeating). Now Jesus shows how it is acquired (Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (541). Minneapolis, MN.: Augsburg Publishing House.).

A basic question that would naturally have arisen in the minds of Jesus’ hearers was, “How does one become a part of God’s kingdom?” “Are people simply born into it, like they are born into citizenship of their country?” they wondered. “Or is it like being a Jew? Are we, as Jews, automatically citizens of the kingdom because we are descendants of Abraham, or must we do something else?”

How can someone become a citizen of God’s kingdom and a member of His family? Through Matthew alone of the Synoptic Gospels, he preserves the parables of: (Nolland, J. (2005). The Gospel of Matthew : A commentary on the Greek text (563). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.).

1) The Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44)

Matthew 13:44 [44]"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (ESV)

As He does in the other parables, Jesus builds this simple story around an experience or situation familiar to His hearers. The phrase "kingdom of heaven" was equivalent to “the kingdom of God” in Mark and Luke. Matthew, in writing to the Jews, did not use God’s name but ... “heaven.” (Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 9: The First Christian Primer: Matthew. Study Guide Commentary Series (120). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.)

Few, if any, would themselves have found such a treasure; but the practice of hiding valuables in the ground was common. Jesus likens the kingdom to a man who finds treasure (see on 6:19) hidden in a field. Treasure might denote the place where valuables are kept (2:11), but here it is the valuable thing itself. The term “treasure” is comprehensive, so that we may think of all the precious things in the kingdom: righteousness, pardon, peace, etc., all that is spiritually priceless. God’s treasure, hidden, indeed, is to be found by us (11:25; Col. 4:3, 4; Luke 19:42); ... As regards the reality the field brings out the thought that God did not hide his treasure far off in the heavens where no human being could even come near it but in a common, lowly place, where it could, indeed, be found, but certainly not by the earthly wise, proud, and self-sufficient. 1 Cor. 1:27–29. (Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (542). Minneapolis, MN.: Augsburg Publishing House).

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