“He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 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.” (Matthew 13:31 – 32)
I very much enjoy metaphors, similes, and analogies – especially analogies. And to me, that is what parables are, analogies that help us understand a concept or issue etc. And with understanding we can use that concept or work through an issue. Coming out the better for it.
The Kingdom of Heaven may seem to start out small; maybe the way Jesus started out “small” as a baby. But with time and nurture from the Divine, Jesus grew to encompass the whole world and to embrace all of humanity and creation.
“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.” (Verse 33)
Again, something small and seemingly insignificant has the power and ability to make a large change, a change that results in a “new” thing. When I was younger, I tried using yeast to bake things. I did not have the cooking skill to make bread or rolls. But I can take seemingly diverse ingredients and make a wonderful food item – anything from baked goods to rich savory stews. My finest creation is my cheesecakes that transport the eater to a “happy place”. Not the Kingdom of Heaven, but a very tasty experience nonetheless.
“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.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.” (Verses 44 – 48)
A treasure worthy of any sacrifice, and that must acquired at any cost. That, beloved reader, underlies the need to change our lives in order to conform ourselves to the example that Jesus set, and to sacrifice our own human will in order to follow the Divine’s will. Because, if we do not, we may just find ourselves outside of the Kingdom of Heaven.
“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” (Verses 49 – 51)
Do you understand this, beloved reader? Do you understand what these parables have to teach you and I? We like to think that no one is really outside of the Divine’s redemption and mercy. That last minute decision for the Lord God versus life long commitment makes us “as clean and white as snow” (to use a really unhelpful and archaic analogy). What it means it that our sins are wiped away, gone and forgotten. The reality might be, however, that there is a time limit on our decision. The clock is winding down, but we have no idea when the final second may come.
“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.”
I look back on the years that I have been writing comments and commentaries, stretching back to the years when I was just starting seminary. I think about all that I have written, and I do consider it treasure – both old and new. I do not keep the “treasure” locked up, but have always been moved to share it. Not, however, that it has always been grabbed up by others or clamored for by millions. It is offered humbly and sincerely. Through the offering of it, I have been moved forward in my faith and spiritual life. I would like to think, or at least hope, it has moved others forward as well. Shalom & Selah!