OF GREATEST VALUE
Holy Spirit of God, enable me to cut through the competing voices that assail me every day. May I discern your voice and follow your direction.
Read Matthew 13:44–52
The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The Parable of the Net
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’1
Missionary Jim Elliot recorded in his journal on 28 October, 1949, ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’ Murdered in the rainforests of Ecuador six years later by those he was seeking to reach with the gospel, aged just 28, Elliot in his life and death embodied the sentiment of this oft-repeated quote. The parables of the treasure and the pearl reveal the unparalleled value of the kingdom, for which we will do whatever is within our control. What are you holding on to too dearly?
Jesus concludes this mini-series of parables taught on the shores of Galilee by picturing a familiar scene. Reminiscent of the story of wheat and weeds, Jesus reiterates the separation to come between good and bad. Some scholars see the net as the church; others consider that the net represents the world. Either way, there is a note of caution, given the clear message that being present in the net by no means guarantees safety within the basket. Where have you placed your security?
Before moving on, Jesus clarifies the disciples’ understanding. Given that Matthew’s Gospel was written primarily for a Jewish audience, we should not be surprised that he (in contrast to the other Gospel writers) includes reference to old and new. Indeed, verse 52, at the midpoint of his Gospel, may be seen as a summary of the complete book he is writing. As Tom Wright reflects on this verse, ‘How can we be sure … that we are both rooted in the old and also bearing the new, fresh fruit of the kingdom of heaven?’2 Are you searching the treasury of the Old Testament and allowing what you discover to be illuminated by the new treasures brought about by Christ?
‘I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.’3
Lord, in your will my life finds purpose and in your love I have found salvation. What treasure is mine in you!
1 Matt 6:21 2 Tom Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1, SPCK, 2002, p178 3 Martin Luther, in Ray Comfort, Luther Gold, Bridge-Logos, 2010, p50
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