Year A Sunday 17/ Trinity 9/Proper 12 : Matthew 13:31-33,44-52
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31 Jesus ( He ) told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches." 33 He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." ... 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. 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 fiery 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 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."
"All Age" talk on Matthew 13:44
For an excellent Powerpoint retelling of this story go to http://www.sermons4kids.com/treasure-in-field-ppt-slides.htm
Jesus told two parables about people who gave everything to gain something of immense value.
The first sold everything to buy a field with treasure in it. The second sold everything to buy a valuable pearl.
Jesus was not suggesting that you can bribe your way into God's good books, but is saying that his followers need to give up everything to follow him. This includes renouncing all pride and self-sufficiency, money and earthly goods, status and popularity. These were the qualities that the Jewish religious leaders exhibited at the time.
Jesus is saying that having God rule your life is the most valuable treasure you can receive. We are to put this first, everything else is unimportant. So when we are presented with something we need to think; "Is it trash?" Or "Is it treasure?"
Here are some things that our treasure and trash... ( you could illustrate these on an OHP/Powerpoint with some clipart )
Friendship/peace with God
Fellowship/love with other believers.
Fruit of Spirit
Gifts of Spirit
Power of the Spirit.
Purpose for living
Relying on God.
Security, unconditional love, joy.
Money, stocks and shares..
Possessions. Gold, silver, houses, cars.
The body of David Livingstone was buried in England where he was born, but his heart was buried in the Africa he loved. At the foot of a tall tree in a small African village the natives dug a hole and placed in it the heart of this man who they loved and respected.
If your heart were to be buried in the place you loved most during life, where would it be? In your pocketbook? In an appropriate space down at the office? Where is your heart?
Dear Jesus, nothing we have can compare to life in the kingdom of heaven. Help us to place our trust in you, so that we may find that priceless treasure. Amen.
Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven, or the rule of God in an individual's life. He uses a number of parables, some which repeat the point he was making.
The first two parables do this. The parables of the mustard seed and of the yeast make the same point, that the demonstration of the rule of God would have small, humble beginnings but grow rapidly to spread around the world throughout history.
The mustard seed is not the smallest seed known today, but it was the smallest seed used by Palestinian farmers and gardeners, and under favourable conditions the plant could reach some ten feet in height.
In the Bible, yeast usually symbolizes that which is evil or unclean (see Mk 8:15). Here, however, it is a symbol of growth. Yeast appears dead and lifeless but, as it is mixed in with the dough it affects everything. Similarly the kingdom of heaven spreads through a person's life. It may also signify the growth of the kingdom by the inner working of the Holy Spirit using God's word.
The Jewish people had expected a Messiah who would deliver them from the rule of Rome, but Jesus did not come to bring a short-term earthly victory in a small Mediterranean country. He came to establish God's rule throughout the whole earth for all time. The birds in the branches of the mustard plant could represent different nations coming to God's kingdom.
After his death Jesus' followers were a fearful tiny band of discouraged and disillusioned men and women. But once they had encountered the risen Jesus and been filled with the Holy Spirit they were transformed into a bold group of enthusiastic evangelists. Their work began in Jerusalem, but quickly spread to other centres. Thirty years later the new faith had reached most parts of the eastern section of the Roman Empire, and probably even beyond, as well as westwards to Rome itself.
See OHP maps ( taken from Lion 'Bible and Christianity CD Rom 2nd edition that I bought for not much more than a mite at SPCK's book shop in Chester ) ...
Soon after Jesus' ascension Stephen's death led to a general outburst of persecution against the Jerusalem Christians. Many Christians were forced to flee from there because of this, but they spread the good news about Jesus wherever they went - throughout the province of Judea and into Samaria to the North. Philip led the way by evangelising extensively among the despised Samaritans, who were half-caste and unorthodox Jews. This resulted in mass conversions.
Other Christians travelled to the coast, the island of Cyprus and to Antioch in Syria, the third city of the Empire, preaching the message of Jesus with great success ( cf Map ). It was in the large city of Antioch that the revolutionary step of evangelising non-Jews was first taken by some of these nameless refugees from Jerusalem.
During these early years, Peter evangelised among his fellow-Jews, but only within his own country.
Between AD 47 and AD 57 Paul established flourishing churches in major cities in the Roman provinces of Galatia, Asia, Macedonia and Achaia. By the end of the 1st century there were strong congregations in Alexandria, Ephesus, Antioch, Corinth, Thessalonica, and even at Rome, the capital of the empire ( cf Map ).
By 250 A.D. a significant Christian minority existed in almost every province of the Empire and also in several countries to the east. After another fifty years, Christians formed a majority in parts of the provinces of Africa and Asia Minor. Finally, the Emperor himself began supporting Christianity in AD 312.
Since 1950 Christians have increased by 47% from 682,400,000 1,000,000,000. It has been estimated that there are 6 million "new" Christians in Africa each year and that 1 in 5 Christians are now African. A scholar recently wrote, 'perhaps one of the two or three most important events in the whole of Christian history has occurred: a complete change in the centre of gravity of Christianity, so that the heartlands of the Church are no longer in Europe and North America, but in Latin America, in certain parts of Asia, and in Africa.'"
The typical Anglican today is black and lives in Africa.
A court case was lost because of the silence of an attorney. The distinguished lawyer Samuel Hoar (1778-1856) was representing the defendant. When it was time to present his case, he told the jurors that the facts favouring his client were so evident that he would not insult their intelligence by arguing them. The jury retired to deliberate and returned in a few minutes with a verdict of guilty. Samuel Hoar was astonished! "How," he asked, "could you have reached such a verdict?" The foreman replied, "We all agreed that if anything could be said for a case, you would say it. But since you didn't present any evidence, we decided to rule against you." Silence had lost the case.
Often the opportunity to speak a word of testimony for Christ is lost because we remain silent. Those who need to hear the gospel may conclude that salvation is not important enough to talk about. We need to take part in the spread of the kingdom by praying for people, and witnessing to them in word and deed.
In these last few weeks stock markets around the world have fallen dramatically. I imagine that many people have lost a lot of money, but I wonder if any of them has lost anything of true value?
Jesus tells the next two parables to show how precious God's kingdom really is, and the need to give up everything to gain it. These tell of two people who gave up everything they had to gain something of value. Jesus was not suggesting that you can bribe your way into God's good books, but is saying that his followers need to give up everything to follow him. This includes renouncing all pride and self-sufficiency, money and earthly goods, status and popularity. These were the qualities that the Jewish religious leaders exhibited at the time.
A missionary society wrote to David Livingstone and asked, "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you." Livingstone wrote back, "If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."
Having taught that the kingdom was growing and should result in wholehearted commitment, Jesus tells the parable of the net to show there will be a final separation of those who have given everything to follow Jesus, and those who have not. This is a challenge for some to repent, and an encouragement to those who have turned to Jesus can look forward to a reward in eternity.
The kingdom or rule of God is centred on Jesus who fulfills the Old Testament. Jesus said, Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament by interpreting the teachings of God, the Old Testament, correctly. For example the Sermon on the Mount in Chapters 5 to 7 of Matthew.
Jesus also fulfils the Old Testament's moral and sacrificial requirements. He lived a perfect life in accordance with the Old Testament's code of conduct, loving God with all of his strength all of the time and always loving his neighbour as himself. Jesus also satisfied the Old Testament's requirement that a perfect lamb be sacrificed for people's sins. That is why John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Old testament required that lambs be sacrifices continually, whereas Jesus sacrifice was once and for all because it is all that is needed to secure forgiveness.
Proper teaching about God's kingdom, therefore, has to reflect the Old and New Testaments. This is why Jesus said, "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."
Some pioneers were making their way across one of the central American states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. They travelled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning fiercely and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have understanding as to what could be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it.
As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, "Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?" The leader replied, "My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!"
This is a picture of the believer, who is safe in Christ!
"On Him Almighty vengeance fell,
which would have sunk a world to hell.
He bore it for a chosen race,
And thus becomes our Hiding Place."