The Good the Bad and the Ugly

(Matthew 13:47-50)

This parable of the kingdom is about the end of the time when Jesus comes to judge the world. We saw earlier that he will allow the weeds to grow with the wheat and they will be separated at the end of the days. This parable is saying much the same.

The net will be cast into the sea of peoples and all people will be gathered into it. Like each of the fish caught in the net they will be judged and graded. All people will be judged as well and it will be determined whether they are fit for the kingdom of God or worthless. Those deemed fit will go into his kingdom to live eternally with God & Jesus Christ. However those who fail to meet the test will be sentenced to punishment and will be thrown into the lake of fire with Satan and his demons.

This is a warning. If we want to avoid judgement we are to make the right decisions now. Now is the acceptable time of salvation as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:2. If we ignore his warning and follow the ways of this world, then we choose the path of destruction.

It is my hope and prayer that I will achieve the right to enter God’s kingdom. It is also my hope and prayer that all who read this will heed of Jesus’ warning and seek out the truth for him or herself.

Parable of the Merchant Seeking Pearls

(Matthew 13:45-46)

This parable is similar to the previous one where a man finds a great treasure in a field and covers it until he can buy the field. However a few nuances make this parable slightly different.

In that previous parable (verse 44) the man discovers a treasure hidden in the filed. He didn’t know or expect it to be there for he wasn’t looking for treasure. He just stumbled onto it and realising his luck, took full advantage of it. Some Christians come to the Lord that way. They are not necessarily looking for God, but they stumble across him and realise this is what they have been looking for all their life.

However in this second parable of the merchant seeking pearls, we see a different perspective. In this case the merchant is looking for pearls of value. He is searching and seeking diligently to find a valuable pearl. Then again we see he finds one pearl of immense value, so he goes and sells all of his possessions so that he had sufficient money to but that pearl.

There are people who likewise are looking for the truth. They have been through all kinds of systems, religions and philosophies but nothing satisfies. These are the other lesser value pearls. While some may provide a little value, some are rubbish and worthless. Then they find Jesus, Jesus may find them and they discover the fullness of what he offers. In comparison to everything else they have been looking at this is awesome. So they give away all they have and as Paul wrote when he found God, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)

Paul had discovered the pearl of great value in Jesus Christ. He was a perfect example of the man described in this parable. Paul was searching for the truth but until Jesus revealed himself to Paul, his life was going in the wrong direction.

The lesson here for all of us is that when we find such a valuable asset, whether by stumbling on it like treasure in a field or seeking a pearl of great value, make it your own. There is nothing that compares to the worth of knowing and being known by Jesus Christ.

Hidden Treasure Parable

(Matthew 13:44)

What would you do if you found a hidden treasure in a field? Let’s say you found gold nuggets or diamonds. Would you go and tell everyone about it? Would you tell people where you found it? Not likely. The hidden treasure parable is saying the same thing.
The hidden treasure parable tells us that find the truth of the gospel is like finding hidden treasure. It is of inestimable value. Like finding hidden treasure in a field, you should not go and tell everyone about it. Keep it to yourself, at least for the time being.

When a person first finds the truth of the Kingdom of God, they experience great joy. Here at last is something that can fill the gap, the emptiness or the longing in their lives. Many people experience emptiness before coming to the Lord because they find this world offers nothing permanent. There is no hope in this world, but in Jesus there is the promise of peace, joy, salvation and eternity.

So the parable of the hidden treasure says that when a person comes across this great treasure they should cover it up. Don’t race off and tell everyone about it. First make sure you have it for yourself. In the parable of the hidden treasure Jesus said the man went and sold all that he had to buy the field. By this means he could ensure that he had full right to the treasure. That it was his and his alone.

Some people believe that as soon as you become a convert you ought to be out on the streets evangelising the world. They point to the great commission, which is to preach to the entire world. But how is a person to do that if they don’t yet fully understand it for themself? When people ask them questions they can’t answer they do not put their best foot forward in Christ.

Instead, the message in the hidden treasure parable tells us that we should make sure this treasure from God is our own first. We must first understand the teachings of Christ and God’s Kingdom before we go out and tell everyone about it. This is what he means by selling all we have to buy the field. If a person does not do this, then others can mock, cajole or do many things to drag them away from the Lord and they will lose this great treasure. To lose this hidden treasure of God that leads to life would be a great tragedy.

The Kingdom of God is Within You – Parable of the Leaven

(Matthew 13:33)

This short parable of the leaven is talking about the kingdom of God within you. It is similar to the previous parable of mustard seed, but there are some marked differences. There are many commentators who have placed a negative connotation on this parable of the leaven because Jesus uses the analogy of leaven as something evil in other places. How ever in this scripture he is comparing this analogy to the kingdom of heaven, which is good, and so it should be seen in the light of something good.

Leaven is important to the making of bread because it causes the bread to rise and makes it soft and palatable. The way leaven works is through an organic process. As it sits in the flour mixture it slowly expands and works its way through the flour until all of the flour becomes activated by the yeast or leaven. Leaven improves the quality of the bread.

In the parable of the leaven we see a more personal view as it shows the kingdom of god is within you and how the gospel works to transform you. First we see a woman “hides” a piece of leaven, which is yeast or yeast affected dough, in three measures of flour. The act of hiding this leaven is interesting and the process of hiding something is seen in other places as well. We see in verse 44 of this chapter that a man found a hidden treasure and covered it up till he could acquire the field and own it fully. Similarly this woman hid the leaven in the flour.

When a person hears the words of the kingdom, if they do not fully understand it, the evil could snatch it away if they are not careful. This was like the birds taking the seed in the parable of the sower. (Matthew 13:4, 19) Thus by hiding it they can meditate on it and learn more so that the word expands and grows in them, transforming them in the same way that leaven transforms flour to make bread. It is a slow growth as the words of the kingdom of God work on your life.

Like the leaven is in the flour, the words and the truth of the kingdom of God is within you. The teachings of Jesus act on your life from within, working from the inside out. The work of transformation is a work that occurs by the Holy Spirit on your own spirit. It starts within and changes your life from within, just as leaven transforms flour from within. This work of transformation is a long slow process, which is also why we speak of walking with Jesus. We do not run with him but we walk. Walking is sustainable for a long time, and suggests a slow but steady progression to reach a destination. Leavening a lump of dough is also a slow process and progression until it is fully ready for baking. And we are being slowly transformed by the working of the truth of the gospel as we grow from within until we are changed into the image of Jesus.

Who will go into God’s Kingdom?

(Matthew 7:21-23)
 
Jesus tells us in this section of scripture that not everyone will go into God’s Kingdom. There are many who appear to be righteous that will miss out.
 
It is not enough to call on the name of the Lord to gain entry into God’s Kingdom. Jesus says here that not everyone who does so will gain entry. And we see that some of these people who will miss out did many mighty or significant works in the name of Jesus. Yet still they did not gain entry into the Kingdom of God. The question that obviously arises is why? There are many in today’s churches who are seeking to do magnificent works that may miss out too. We see many who set up ministries, who go out into missionary works, who preach and prophesy and exercise the power of the Spirit but still may miss out.
 
The key to entry into God’s Kingdom though is not in the mighty works. It is not in saying great words or preaching the word or prophesying or missionary work or building churches, schools, hospitals or any of the other works that can and are being done. No, the key to entry into God’s Kingdom is by doing the will of the Father.
 
What is the will of the Father? It is to believe in Jesus whom he sent to be our saviour. Paul wrote in Romans 1:17, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” It is by faith or by believing in God and Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour that we shall live and gain entry into God’s Kingdom. The apostle John made it even more clear that faith in Jesus was the key saying in John 6:40, “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
 
So the key is through faith in Jesus Christ. All the works that a man may do will come to nothing if he does not have faith. It is the condition of the heart and the faith that a person has that is the key. The question will be whether they are truly doing these works for the Lord or for their own benefit. There may be people who believe they can buy or even bribe their way into heaven; that by building churches or setting up ministries of different sorts they can gain forgiveness for their sins or make atonement for their evil ways. Likewise some years ago there used to be talk that by going to church and donating to the church was like putting savings or credits into a “spiritual bank account.” That these things would offset any sins that a person may have committed or would do in the future. There is no spiritual bank account. God does not weigh up a measure of sin and a measure of good deeds to see which pile is the larger to decide whether a person has life or not. Those who believe such things are blind and have been led astray by false teaching and lies. These things are of no consequence for the forgiveness of sin cannot be bought and God cannot be bribed. Forgiveness is freely available to all, but only through faith in Christ Jesus and through repentance.
 
The works of God are not like the works of man. Jesus was asked about this matter in John 6:28-29 which says, “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So the works of God are about faith in Jesus Christ, and without faith there is no entry into God’s Kingdom. No person will be accepted on the basis of works of the law as Paul wrote in Romans 3:20, “For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” He added in Galatians 2:16, “…a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.”
 
Do you want to go into God’s Kingdom? Then learn what it means to be doing the will of God. Learn what it is to have faith in Jesus Christ and what to believe, for that is the pathway to life.