[Matthew 13:16, 17 Christian Scriptures 2001]
“But, blessed are the eyes of you (disciples) because they saw; and your ears because they listened. I tell you this truth: Many prophets and righteous persons longed to see what you behold but did not see; and to listen to what you hear but did not hear.”
People like stories. Story-tellers have held crowds in awe from the beginning of humanity. Most good stories have a moral. No teacher in the history of humankind has been so repeated, copied and commentaries published than those stories told by Jesus of Nazareth. His stories are often called parables or illustrations. They not only have a moral behind them, but in the case of some there are prophetic details. These prophecies imbedded in Christ’s parables have already proved partially true as history established. Thus, those parts yet to be fulfilled can be approached with a high degree of confidence or conviction.
Perhaps of all the parables of the Nazarene those found in Matthew chapter 13 are among the most revealing. They reveal not only truths and moral principles, but also prophetic details that may well affect our lives today. What are these? How is my life as a Christian - or non-christian - involved in these charming stories?
In this article an attempt is made to discuss several parables that have a common thread - a Kingdom of the Messiah. These illustrations help us to understand how the King will judge his own realm or domain. They reveal what our own ultimate destiny will turn out to be. A strong associated theme regarding this Kingdom or Realm is that of judgment by the King himself. No Christian will escape this judgment as Paul indicates: “For it is necessary that all of us [Christians] appear in front of the judgment-seat of the Christ, so that we might receive what we deserve for those things performed by means of the body, whether these things be ‘good or vile.’ [2 Corinthians 5:10 NCMM] With such a prospect in view, we approach these parables with keen personal interest.
Another parable Jesus put before them, saying, “The Realm of Heaven may be compared to a man sowing good seed in his field. MT13:25 But, while men were sleeping his enemy arrived and over-seeded zizania among the wheat and then left. MT13:26 Now when the (wheat) sprouted and produced fruitage there also appeared the zizania. MT13:27 So, the slaves approached the landlord and asked him, ‘Lord, did you not sow good seed in your field?’ MT13:28 The landlord answered them, ‘An enemy did this.’ The slaves asked, ‘Do you want us to go and cull-out the zizania?’ MT13:29 But, the landlord told them, ‘No, for by accident while culling the zizania you uproot the wheat also. MT13:30 ‘Go and let both of them grow together until the harvest. Then in the harvest season I will tell the harvesters, ‘Gather first the zizania and bind them into bundles to be burned. But, the wheat gather into my storehouse.” [NCMM]
All of the following parables have one single thing as their focus - the Kingdom. Not the seat of government, but the realm or domain over which the King reigns: the realm of profession -- the Church. Jesus is to use several parables to illustrate truths or mysteries about the Congregation (or, Church) he is to build. (Matthew 16:18; Compare Ephesians 1:19-22) Regarding this domain, territory or realm of the Son’s Kingdom, Paul himself writes: “Who has made us free from the power of evil and given us a place in the kingdom of the Son of his love.” [Colossians 1:13 BAS] The Nazarene is to explain this parable a bit later. So we will examine some details in Matthew 13:36-43.
That this “kingdom” is not the literal celestial Kingdom in heaven is shown by a closer look at Matthew 13:41-43, “The Son of Humankind will send forth his angels and they will cull out of his Realm everything that causes scandal and those doing lawlessness. The angels will cast out (the sons of the Evil One) into the furnace of fire. There will be lamentation and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will ‘shine forth like the sun’ in the Realm of their Father.” We note two “kingdoms”: a] the Son’s kingdom which has the lawless and scandalous within it; and, b] the Father’s Kingdom where the Saints will shine like the sun.
Jesus says that ZIZANIA [Strong's Exhaustive Concordance # 2215, a kind of darnel, resembling wheat except the grains are black] have been planted among the wheat sown in his field. Generally this plant (Lolium temulentum) is called either tares or the “bearded darnel.” (KJV) [Or, MOF: weeds] When young it resembles wheat but with maturity it turns black and stands up straight, while wheat is golden and bows its head. (See Bible dictionaries.) William Barclay observes: “The tares and the wheat are so like each other that the Jews called the tares bastard wheat. The Hebrew for tares is zunim, whence comes the Greek zizanion; zunim is said to be connected with the word zanah, which means ‘to commit fornication’.” Thus, the weeds, tares, or ZIZANIA are a prostituted form of the wheat it resembles.
The landlord or farmer is asked if these weeds should be uprooted or culled out. The landlord responds, “No, for by accident while culling the zizania you may uproot the wheat also.” What is the meaning of this parable? This illustration is unique in that late the disciples ask for an explanation. Jesus gives added details when he explains the meaning of this kingdom comparison.
Then Jesus released the crowds and came into the house. His disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the zizania of the field.” Jesus responded by saying, “The One sowing the good seed is the Son of Humankind. The field is the world. The good seed are the sons of the Realm; but the zizania are the sons of the Evil One. The enemy sowing them is the Devil. The harvest is the consummation of a period. The reapers are angels. So, even as the zizania are gathered and burned in fire, thus it will be at the consummation of the Period. The Son of Humankind will send forth his angels and they will cull out of his Realm everything that causes scandal and those doing lawlessness. The angels will cast out (the sons of the Evil One) into the furnace of fire. There will be lamentation and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will ‘shine forth like the sun’ in the Realm of their Father. Let the one with ears, hear.
After Jesus dismisses the crowd and is alone with his own apostles, and at the end of his explanation, he tells them: “Let the one with ears, hear.” So, anyone who reads this parable’s explanation should listen with comprehension as well as a willingness to respond to the moral within the teaching.
When asking for an interpretation to this Kingdom parable, it is the disciples who call it “the parable of the zizania of the field.” We see also the critical point they wondered about - should the wheat and weeds grow together?
Jesus first explains that the “field is the world.” The Greek for “world” is kosmos and means something arranged in a certain order to characterize it. The whole world of humankind is the field of the Lord. In that field the “good [or, fine/excellent] see are the sons of the Realm [or, kingdom].” Jesus has used the phrase “sons of the kingdom” earlier. In Matthew 8:12 these are children of Israel. The Nazarene tells that Jewish generation that the kingdom will be removed and given to another nation. (Matthew 21:43) That nation proved to be a spiritual one identical to the Christian Church. (1 Peter 2:5-9; Galatians 6:16) The “sons of the Realm” are the children of God within the realm of profession. Compare 2 Timothy 2:19.
It is likely that Daniel 7:14 refers to this international mixture of “sons of the Kingdom” who became subjects in Christ’s realm after his ascension to heaven and enthronement in God’s presence. [Daniel 7:13; Ephesians 1:19-21] Daniel describes these subjects as coming from “peoples, ethnic groups and languages.” This is the same language that describes that reign of kings and priests at Revelation 5:9, 10. [Revelation 7:9]
There is another “seed” sown in this field. These are “the sons of the Evil One.” That is, children of the Devil. This distinction made by Jesus is also in the writings of John. (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10) According to the apostle John what primarily identifies the children of the Devil is hatred and lack of love manifest in charity. On this matter compare Matthew 25:31-46.
The “enemy sowing [the seed of evil] is the Devil. Like the fermenting leaven, the Devil is at work even within the Realm of the Son. Paul describes such when he writes to the Corinthians: “I continue to fear that some how, as ‘the serpent seduced Eve in its cunning,’ [Genesis 3:4] your minds might be corrupted from the single-mindedness and chastity due the Christ. For it is a certainty that if a person arrives preaching another Jesus whom we did not preach - or you accept a different inspiration which you had never received - or a different Good News which you had never accepted - you [Corinthians] put up with him in a fine manner. … For such persons are pseudo-apostles, deceitful workers, refashioning themselves into Christ’s apostles. And no wonder, for Satan continues to transform himself into an angel of light. It is no great thing, then, if his ministers also continue to refashion themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will be according to their works!” (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4, 14, 15 NCMM)
Indeed, virtually every inspired epistle warns of this inworking of evil and lawlessness - which is apostasy - within the Church of Christ. [2 Thessalonians chapter 2; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy chapter 3; 4:1-3; 2 Peter chapter 2; 1 John chapters 2-4; Jude] Jesus had foretold such lawlessness early in the Church’s first few decades. Matthew 24:12 has the Nazarene predicting: “Because of increasing lawlessness the love of many will cool.” [NCMM] Paul agrees less than three decades later when he says, “[This] lawlessness is already at work.” [2 Thessalonians 2:3-9] And, writing six decades after Jesus the apostle John declares, “Little children, it is the last hour, and antichrist has arrived.” [1 John chapter 2]
But this growing together of the wheat and the weeds was not to last forever. The harvest time would come. Is the harvest a generational period covering over a hundred years? Or, is it the end of a period that brings judgment? Jesus calls it “the consummation of a period of time.” The whole phrase in Greek is te synteleia tou aionos. It is nearly identical to Matthew 24:3 (see notes) and Hebrews 9:26. The phrase is also rendered: KJV: the end of the world; TCN: the close of the age; NWT: conclusion of the system of things. It seems the disciples draw their use in Matthew 24:3 from Daniel 9:26 where synteleias occurs in the Jewish Greek Bible (LXX). Jerome translates synteleia by consumatis.
This is an angelic harvest. The King Messiah uses “his angels” to assist in the harvesting of the wheat and weeds. Jesus says the same in the parable of the sheep and goats at Matthew 24:30, 31 and Matthew 25:31. There angels attend the King when he arrives to judge his realm. This is the parousia-judgment. The Nazarene’s parables in Matthew chapters 24 and 25 also deal with this judgment of his own household of faith.
Note from the initial statement of the parable that the zizania were bound and burned “first.” That is, their judgment occurs before the “sons of the Realm” are seen within the Father’s Kingdom. The parousia-judgment is a time of judging the Church upon its resurrection. For, Paul says, “we must ALL stand before the judgment-throne of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) These are those “of Christ at his Parousia” mention in 1 Corinthians 15:23. Within the Household of Faith all professing Christians are resurrected to their judgment day upon the Return of Christ. (Daniel 12:1, 2; John 5:28, 29) Those thus raised to judgment will have two outcomes: everlasting life or everlasting shame and reproach. (Daniel 12:2) Jesus paraphrases the later as a “resurrection to condemnation.” The apostle John also borrows from Daniel 12:2 and John 5:29 when he writes at 1 John 2:28; 4:17 - “Now, little children, continue to abide in (Jesus) so when the time comes for him to be made visible we all might speak openly and freely at his Arrival and not experience embarrassment while standing before him. … [during] the day of judgment.” This is the truth taught by Jesus’ Parousia parables.
Those Christians who are judged to be lawless and scandalous will be exterminated in fire. Compare Matthew 25:46 where the same befalls the “goats.” This is “the consummation of the Period.” Similar to the previous phrase but now with the article in Greek. This is the end of the Age or Period prior to the Return of Christ when the Harvest begins. It may also be the end of the Gospel Age or Age of the Church.
The King will send for his angels [Compare Matthew 24:31 and Matthew 25:31] and they will “cull out of his Realm” those described as scandalous and lawless. [Or, gather, collect out] There are certain undesirables within the Son’s Realm. Are they not the lawless of Matthew 7:21? (Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9.) Jesus describes these as those who “cause scandal.” The Greek is scandala and is usually rendered: KJV: things that offend; ASV: cause stumbling; MOF: all who are hindrances; PME: spoiling; BEC: who lead others to do wrong. The history of the Church has been scandalous. These will meet their King with shame. (1 John 2:28)
They are also those who commit “lawlessness” within the Church. [Compare Matthew 7:21.] These break the two commandments of 1 John 3:23 by their faithlessness and lack of love. They are “cast out” or expelled just like the exorcising of demons. Before their demise into eternal extinction “there will be lamentation” before the judgment-throne of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 2:28)
Only then - or after the destruction of the lawless and scandalous weeds are the righteous seen in victory. [Compare the “righteous” at Matthew 25:37.] The “righteous” are contrasted to the “lawless” for righteousness is the same as being law-abiding. The key law is that of love expressed by charity and hospitality as the parable of Matthew 25:31-46 shows. These righteous members of the Church or Realm of Christ will then begin to “shine forth like the sun” in celestial glory. The strong allusion is from Daniel 12:3 where similar language occurs. [Compare Daniel 12:2, 3 with John 5:28, 29.] The “sons of the kingdom” have now become part of the Father’s Kingdom in heaven. Note this verse in Daniel follows upon the foretold “oppression” associated with the appearing of Michael. (Daniel 12:1, 2 JBS; compare Matthew 24:30)
Jesus concludes this important Kingdom parable with a warning to all his disciples: “Let the person with ears to hear, listen!” This is a phrase the glorified Nazarene is to go on to use in the Revelation. [Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9]
Jesus put before them another parable, saying, “The Realm of Heaven may be compared to a grain of mustard which a man took and planted in his field. The mustard grain is smaller than all the seeds but when grown is greater than all vegetation as it becomes a tree. Birds of the sky find lodging in its branches.”
Having illustrated how his realm or kingdom is composed of both wheat and weeds, Jesus now gives a parable about its growth. Something about the Church -- the realm of profession -- is like a tiny seed that grows into a great tree where birds roost. Jesus uses the tiny “mustard seed” in his analogy. The Greek is sinapeos. Possibly it is Brassica nigra with a seed the size of a pinhead growing to as much as five meters. Wild mustard may have been right before them in yellow bloom along the lake. The Jews used the phrase “mustard seed” to refer to the slightest breach of ceremonial law. [Compare Matthew 17:20.]
Jesus says this tiny seed is “planted in his field.” There is an echo here of the previous parable. May the man and the field be the same? Luke 13:18 has it, “a man took and put in his garden.” This seed is described as “smaller than all the seeds.” The Greek is microteron and could infer the “least of all seeds.” There are smaller seeds (orchid) but most feel Jesus is speaking only of the land of Israel. Mark 4:31 reads: “the tiniest of all the seeds that are on the earth (or, in the land).” Also, Jesus has in mind a domestic seed that is planted in a field or garden within the experience of the disciples.
This tiny, insignificant seed “becomes a tree.” What is the meaning of the parable? In what manner is the Church (the realm of profession) like a tiny seed that grows into a great tree? Had Jesus told Pilate that within three centuries Christianity would be the state religion and the Caesar would be a Christian, how would Pilate have responded? At the beginning of the 3rd millennium the Christian Church is the largest of the religions on earth with Christian America the most powerful nation on earth. William Barclay writes: “Sometimes his disciples must have despaired. Their little band was so small and the world was so wide. How could they ever win and change it?”
When reading John chapter one we get an idea of the tiny beginnings of the Nazarene movement. One relative told another and another told still another. And then there were twelve. And later there were seventy active in the Master’s harvest and “fishing for humans.” After Christ’s resurrection and during the festival of Pentecost there were 120. Within a few days there were thousands. Then more thousands upon thousands. Soon persecuted Christianity numbered in the millions scattered abroad in most nations of the world. Today there are over two billion persons who claim a believe in Christ in one form or another. Certainly the “kingdom of the heavens,” or “the realm of profession,” grew from such insignificant beginnings to a tree of great size. But, what would happen during this phenomenal growth?
Jesus related to them another parable: “The Realm of Heaven may be compared to leaven, which a woman takes and kneads into three seah measures of flour until the whole is leavened.”
The Nazarene now approaches the subject from another angel. He says his realm of kingdom may be compared to a woman mixing leaven into dough until the “whole” was thoroughly mixed and fermented. There is something about the development of Christ’s Church (the realm of profession) which is like leaven.
The Greek for leaven is zume. [Or, TCN: yeast.] What do we know of “leaven” in the Christian Bible? The word occurs 8 times in the Gospels. Leaven is used of the three sects or groups and their doctrine or ideas - the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians. (Matthew 16:6, 11, 12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1) Note it is “three measures” the woman mixes and perhaps these may be - conservative, liberal, and political.
Paul uses leaven as a metaphor for wickedness and badness. (1Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:9) This agrees with Plutarch, the Greek historian, who wrote: "(Leaven) itself [is] also the product of corruption, and produces corruption in the dough with which it is mixed." (Moralia, IV, "The Roman Questions," 109) In view of the above it does not seem twisting matters to view this parable as a prediction about the fermentation of the Christian Church. It began in the purity of the Nazarene’s teachings and example and within three centuries was bastardized and mongrelized until it was virtually unrecognizable from the original. Nearly every inspired Christian writer foretells an apostasy or falling away. (Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 4:3, 4; 2 Peter 2:1ff; 1 John 2:18, 19) Interestingly, no where in these parables does Jesus foretell some kind of restoration of “true religion.”
Some would try to make every single element of a parable important and worthy of some application. This need not necessarily be the case. Note the woman “hid” (ene-crypsen) the leaven. This may only mean knead. On the other hand it may be ominous - the process of fermentation is so subtle as to be unseen. Though Paul notes certain doctrines running amiss, as does John, it is likely the average Christian did not observe what was happening. For example, the process that finally created the Trinity was likely only elevating Christ beyond what the Scriptures require, until the Father and the Son became obscured.
The whole of the realm of profession is to become leavened. After two thousand years of fermentation Christendom (the Church of Christ) has undergone a metamorphoses. This is likely to continue until “that day.” Are their individuals within this realm who will find the Lord’s approval? Jesus once asked: “When the Son of Humankind arrives will he find The Faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8) The explanation of the parable of the Sower reveals the answer - there will be wheat!
Women have been very influential in the development of some 19th Century sects: Mary Baker Eddy and the Church of Christian Science; Ellen White and the Seventh Day Adventists; Mary Russell and the Bible Students who later became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other women founded New Age movements that combine elements of Christianity with Egyptian theology. Even within the 1st Century Church there were certain female influences that worked leaven into the congregations. Jesus himself identifies one in the congregation at Thyatira. [Revelation 2:20] And, finally in the Apocalypse the Church is compared to a woman, “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots.” Also, the 144,000 are described as those who did not become spiritually unclean “with women.” So, on occasion, throughout the history of the Church there have been Christian women who influenced the Body of Christ for good or bad, just as there have been men.
So after over two thousands of years when Christ returns his end-time Saints will be found within this fermented mixture. But how will these wheat and weeds, these Christians mixed up within “the whole” be judged? Jesus repeats elements of his earlier parable from another perspective.
“Again the Realm of Heaven may be compared to a dragnet thrown into the sea and gathering together every kind of (fish). When the net is filled it is hauled onto the beach. Then the (fishermen) sit down and collect the good fish into vessels; but, the rotten (fish) they throw away. Just so it will be in the consummation of the Period: the angels will go forth to separate the wicked from among the righteous. The angels will hurl the wicked into the furnace of fire. There will be lamentation and the grinding of teeth.
There is something about the Christian Church that resembles a fisherman’s dragnet lowered into the world to “catch men alive.” Some call this the Gospel Net. Jesus called his first disciples and told them they would “become fishers of men.” He commissioned his apostles to “Go and make disciples of people of all nations.” (Matthew 28:18, 19) Beginning with Jesus the gospel preaching “dragnet” -- the greatest evangelical effort of all time -- the Gospel Net has been fishing earth’s waters.
At the Return of Christ and the beginning of the parousia-judgment this dragnet is hauled in for examination. This parallels the parable of the Zizania in the Field as well as those parables within Matthew 24:45-25:46. At the judgment the dragnet will be filled with all those who professed Jesus as Lord as Christians throughout the Gospel or Church Age or Period.
The “good fish” are collected into vessels. Or, sorted the good fish into baskets. [TCN] And the “rotten fish” are separated from the good. Rotherham calls these “worthless.” The Greek sapros is rendered rotten or corrupt and often applied to the bad fruit of a tree. (Matthew 7:17, 18; Luke 6:43) These are the same as the “workers of lawlessness” of Matthew 7:21, 22, the zizania of Matthew 13:38, and the “goats” of Matthew 25:40-46.
These rotten fish are those who throughout the history of the Church were habitually vile or wicked. [2 Corinthians 5:10] They include some who did not work direct or deliberate harm to others, but simply did nothing when the humblest Christian was in need. Jesus makes this clear in his later parable of the sheep and goats. [Matthew 25:31-46] Note that the sheep are “righteous” because of their empathy, compassion, hospitality and charity. While on the other hand the goats are so because they saw a need and did nothing.
Paul describes these two groups of Christians at the parousia-judgment in this manner: “However, in harmony with your hard and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in a day of wrath when the righteous judgment of The God is revealed. [The God] ‘will reward each one in harmony with [their] works’ [Psalm 62:12]. Indeed, to those who endure in good works -- glory, honor, and incorruption to those searching for ageless life. But, to those who out of selfishness disobey the truth, obeying rather unrighteousness --- wrath, anger, oppression and distress -- upon every human soul who persists in working harm to others -- first to the [Christian] Jew, but also to the Greek [Christian]. But, glory, honor, and peace to everyone who continues to work at good --- to the Jew first, but also to the Greek. ‘For there is no partiality or favoritism of persons with The God’.” [Romans 2:5-11 NCMM]
Thus, as with the separation of the wheat and weeds, this separation of the good and rotten fish will occur at the judgment upon “the consummation of the Period.” The Age or Period may be the Gospel Age or that time period of the generation that witnesses the Revelation of Christ. (Matthew 24:34) Then “angels will go forth to separate” the two kinds of fish. That is, “the wicked from among the righteous.” There are only two classes of Christians: the good and the bad. The difference between the wicked and the righteous is that the former are hurtful and unloving, and the later law-abiding and charitable. These are destroyed with great lamentation. The grief is before the throne of Christ and in their shame and reproach prior to being hurled into everlasting extinction. (1 John 2:28; Matthew 7:21)
Given the background of these Kingdom parables with their truths and principles what should be the reaction of the disciple who hears them? Jesus goes on to conclude by answer that question.
MT13:52 So Jesus told them, “Therefore, every teacher who has become a student of the Realm of Heaven can be compared to a person, like a householder, who throws out of his treasure-chest new things and old things.”
“Did you (disciples) comprehend all of this?”(The Disciples) answered, “Yes.”
Jesus asks his apostles if they understood everything he had said in the parables. That is did they “grasped all this” [KNX]. They answer, Yes. So we may assume the truths and morals within these parables are not beyond comprehension. Any modern Christian reader should be able to understand these parables.
The Nazarene mentions a “teacher” who has become “a student of the Realm of Heaven.” The Greek for teacher is grammateus and is generally rendered “scribe” though some do rendered it “teacher.” The scribe was sometimes considered a teacher as well as a student sometimes as this was a life-long process. We never stop learning and thus we are always students even though we may become a teacher.
The Greek for “student” is matheteutheis. Others render this TCN: received instruction; PME: becomes a disciple; NEB: a learner. The perfect teacher is one who is also a life-long student. Such a student-teacher is compared to a “householder” or the “master of a house.” [NOR] This person searches the household “treasure-chest” and brings out, or throws out various items. The treasure are his own goods, the things he has saved. Jesus has used the word “treasure” in relation to the heart. See the notes on treasure at Matthew 6:21 and Matthew 12:35. As a student or learner (a disciple of Christ) each of these apostles has had truths stored up from the Jewish religion -- laws, principles, doctrines, prophecies. Now each ones has new truths and news ways of expressing these from the Master teacher, Jesus.
The Nazarene calls these treasure-chest items “new things and old things.” The New Jerusalem Bible footnote here reads: “The Jewish teacher who becomes a disciple of Christ has at his disposal all the wealth of the Old Testament as well as its completion in the New.” William Barclay writes: “There is something suggestive here. For it means that Jesus never desired or intended that any man [or, woman - editor] should forget all he knew when he came to him; but that he should see his knowledge in a new light and use it in a new service.” (Page 90) No person embarking on discipleship to the Nazarene can refuse to “throw out” in personal witnessing to others truths old and new.
The apostles had a wealth of truths and laws from their Jewish backgrounds, and now they had new thoughts and principles to give to others. It is interesting that despite a separation of two thousand years, the Hebrew-Jewish part of the Bible is called “old” while the Christian part is called “new.” Both elements are in the “treasure-chest” and the two sources may be used by the Christian teacher in the spiritual education of others.
Each disciple must become first a student, then a teacher who continues to be a student. Paul is critical of some Hebrew Christians who failed to do this: “Regarding [Jesus] we have the word to speak and hard to interpret since you have become sluggish in your hearing. For there are those who ought to be teachers by now, but you have a need to be taught by someone all over again from the beginning the elementary principles the sacred words of The God. You have become those needing milk and not solid nourishment. For every person partaking of milk is really unfamiliar with the word of righteousness because they remain babies. However, solid nourishment belongs to mature persons, those who through the use of their sensory organs have been trained like an athlete to be able to distinguish between what is good or bad.” [Hebrews 5:11-14 NCMM]
If after a reasonable period of time as a Christian the disciple is still just a student there may be something that needs to be done. What is it? Actually the answer lies in two Kingdom parables in Matthew chapter 13. They both involve possessions. “The Realm of Heaven may be compared to a treasure hidden in a field. When a person found that hidden treasure out of sheer joy he went and sold everything he possessed and bought the field. Again the Realm of Heaven may be compared to a traveling merchant seeking excellent pearls. Upon discovering a very valuable pearl he leaves to sell everything he possesses and bought the pearl.” [Matthew 13:44-46 NCMM]
There is a saying that “time is money.” The converse is also true, “money is time.” In other words it takes a certain amount of time to acquire possessions. In America the minimum wage is about $5. So if one wanted something that cost $50 they will have to work ten hours to acquire that possession. The Christian may be torn between where and how he or she will spend that time. Those with a short-term view - get all out of life now - may feel their personal leisure and enjoyment is more important. Whatever time they have left they may spend becoming a Bible student and teacher. Others who take a long-term view - with eternal life as God’s promise - may wish to demonstrate this faith by sacrificing certain leisure time or possessions to do as Jesus taught above.
The essential principle is to find a balance in a practical and simple lifestyle that leaves more time to bring out things old and new from that spiritual treasure-chest. In this way the serious Christian as a “genuine disciple” of the Nazarene Master is willing to sacrifice all to buy the “valuable pearl” of Kingdom blessings and privileges. [For details see notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000 on Matthew 6:24-34.] Given the above in Jesus’ teachings of the Kingdom parables, we do well to listen to his closing words: “Let the person with ears to hear, listen.”
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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