Monday, October 11, 2010

On Matthew 13

Many theologians, many greater than I, have take some of the parables in Matthew 13 in a way I would not - especially the parables of the Hidden Treasure and Pearl of Great Price. These are understood by many to be about how we are to strive and give up all things for Jesus and thus obtain the kingdom of heaven. (As a note, a very well written version of this may be found here ). This is a very pious approach... I just don't think it does justice to the text, nor is it what our Lord is teaching.

Matthew 13 has 7 parables, and all deal with the Kingdom of Heaven.

1. The Parable of the Sower -- and in the meaning we are told this is about the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Seed is the Word.

2. The Parable of the Weeds -- again, the kingdom of heaven is compared to a man who sows good weed. . . and then there is wickedness.

3. The Parable of the Mustard Seed -- The kingdom of heaven is like a man sowing the littlest weed and it grows.

4. The Parable of the leaven - the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven which gives growth to the flour when given to it.

5. The Parable of Treasure in the field -- the Kingdom of Heaven is like the man who finds a treasure in a field and gives all to buy it.

6. The Pearl of Great Price -- The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who sells all to buy a great pearl.

7. The Parable of the Net - The Kingdom of Heaven has the agents of Christ gather all, and in the judgment separate the righteous from the unjust.

In parables 1-4 and 7, "the Kingdom of Heaven" leads to a discussion on what Christ does for salvation - He plants the seed that grows, He gives the growth, He rescues the faithful from the unrighteous.

Why then would we think that 5 and 6 - both about the kingdom of heaven - would suddenly be about what we have to do for Jesus? Rather - is not Christ Jesus the One who gives up all to purchase, to redeem us?

Now, to be sure, as Christians we are to reflect Christ Jesus - what our Lord does for us should be how we are to live. But the Kingdom of Heaven isn't about you - it's about Jesus and who He is.

Come, let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith!

6 comments:

ROBERT LLOYD RUSSELL said...

Great post and comments.
You said: "These are understood by many to be about how we are to strive and give up all things for Jesus and thus obtain the kingdom of heaven. (As a note, a very well written version of this may be found here ). This is a very pious approach... I just don't think it does justice to the text, nor is it what our Lord is teaching."

You are right on!! I have a new book out soon (One Precious Pearl) which examines the pearl of great price in some detail as well as an overview of all the parables in Matthew 13. This book will be available in less than 60 days from Amazon, etc.

The pearl cannot be salvation as often interpreted without violating good interpretation principles. The pearl is as stated the Kingdom of Heaven and my belief it is a sub-portion of the kingdom - the universal church of Jesus Christ--who is the merchant man in the parable.

God bless you for your comments.

christopherdhall.com said...

Ok, Brown, you just did the classic "Lutheran Shuffle"--which is a radical misreading of the text in order to make Jesus sound more like Walther or Elert.

The patristic consensus is, and always was that Christ is the pearl of Great Price.

See, it can be just as consistent when you look at 1-4 and see how great the Kingdom is--then respond by selling all to get it, then 7 describes what happens in the end to those who are or are not in the Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

The White Horse Inn is beginning a series on these parables and makes the same point that you are making in this post. You can find more here: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/2010/10/08/exploring-the-parables-of-jesus-part-1-2/

George said...

The patristic consensus vs. Walther or Elert. I guess one sounds more impressive than the other.

But please, Christopher, why not defend the interpretation of the fathers? Tell good brother Eric why he's wrong (and, by the way, I don't guess that he follows Walther here, but feel free to show me I'm wrong).

Do the Rev. Eric Brown's words violate the rule of faith? What is "radical" about suggesting that Jesus gave up all to purchase His bride? Is that concept foreign to the fathers?

George

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Chris,

I contend that the Kingdom of Heaven is Christ's way of pointing to His own salvivic reign. The question I have is this -- when does Christ Jesus, our Lord, ever use the Kingdom of Heaven to point to us, rather than Himself for us?

When our Lord says, "The Kingdom of God is among you," is this not our Lord pointing to Himself?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

George,

So you know, Chris and I are circuit mates and buds, so we have hashed this out a touch before (hence the "Lutheran Switch" is short hand for us).

But... he can't refute it =o) It is not that I wish to sound more like Walther or Elert, it's just that there are times when Walther and Elert sound more like Jesus thank Chrysostom or the Gregories do.