The Kingdom of Heaven is like.... Reflections - 7-26-17

 Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

 31-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.” 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.” 

44 -“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. 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?” 51- They answered, “Yes.” 52- 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 really think that the author of the gospel of Matthew was going for a “guffaw” in verse 51. After telling a long series of parables in chapter 13 which are to give us insights into God’s kingdom and character, Jesus asks his disciples, “Have you understood all this?”. “Yes” they answer. 
Hmmm. Really? 

Read the verses assigned for today (above). There is one parable piled on top of another (5 or 6 depending on your opinion of v. 52). 

Parables are tricky. We want the meaning to be clear. This equals that. This is the moral of the story. I want to know what it says an be done with it. But, they don't really function that way.

Some of the gospel writers do in fact lay out a “clear meaning” of some of the parables. The verses omitted in the lesson today, were included last week to explain the parable of wheat and weeds; similarly, earlier in chapter 13, verses 18-23 explain verses 3-9. 

One of the first questions I am going to ask when I “get to heaven” is going to be “Did Jesus actually give those interpretations at the time, or did someone else get antsy and fill in the blanks afterwards?” Often those of us who are educators of children and youth (well, and adults) tend to fill in the blanks a little too quickly as well. That can slam the door on other perspectives and insights.

One common way I’ve heard a parable described is as something “cast alongside” something else to reveal something about that first something - an allegory or a comparison, or a riddle. 

This kingdom Jesus is talking about, which is both “at hand” and “yet to be”, is an expression of God’s will. It shows us what is important to God. It shows us what is important about God. It reveals values and points to ways its inhabitants can live it.

Read those verses again. Using that pile of parables, what do you understand about “the kingdom of heaven”?

What does it mean to experience the kingdom here and now?

The comment section is there for your ideas!

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245