Scripture: Jesus said, "Then you see how every student well-trained in
God’s kingdom is like the owner of a general store who can put his
hands on anything you need, old or new, exactly when you need it"
(Matthew 13:52, The MESSAGE).
Observe the Context:
This word from Jesus is offered in the midst of a sermon series of
parables on the kingdom of heaven. Among these parables are the
- Parable of the Sower – Matthew 13:1-9
- Parable of the Weeds – Matthew 13:24-30
- Parable of the Mustard Seed – Matthew 13:31-32
- Parable of the Yeast – Matthew 13:33
- Parable of the Hidden Treasure – Matthew 13:44
- Parable of the Pearl – Matthew 13:45-56
- Parable of the Net – Matthew 13:47-50
least one of the dominant threads in the warp and woof of the kingdom
of heaven is extravagance. A sower sows more seeds than makes sense,
wheat and weeds grow together, a tiny seed becomes a mighty tree, a
woman prepares biscuits for hundreds, a tremendous price is paid for a
treasure in a field or a pearl of great price, and many are the fish
caught in the kingdom net … even if some are discarded. Did the
crowds get it? Do we get it? We know the disciples did not get it.
disciple ask Jesus why he always teaches in parables and he begins his
answer with these words, "To you it has been given to know the secrets
[or mysteries] of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been
given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an
abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be
taken away" (Matthew 13:11-12, NRSV).
Apply the Lesson to My Life: So who is given the
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven? As I recall the promise lifted
several weeks ago, the kingdom of heaven belongs to the "poor in
spirit" and those "persecuted for righteousness’ sake" (see Matthew
5:3-12, and "What’s Love Got to Do with It?"). It seems to me that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the
redeemed of the Lord who the psalmist sings of in Psalm 107.
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
those he redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south (Psalm 107:1-3).
Who are some of the redeemed according to the psalmist?
- "Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them" (Psalm 107:4-5).
- "Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons,
for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel
of the Most High" (Psalm 107:10-11).
- "Some were sick through
their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction;
they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death
- "Some went down to the sea in ships, doing
business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the LORD, his
wondrous works in the deep" (Psalm 107:23-24).
Have you wandered
in desert wastes, sat in darkness, been sick in your sinful ways, or
seen the Lord’s power on the mighty waters? Have you been brought
through the storm? Then what is the response of the redeemed?
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders (Psalm 107:31-32).
kingdom of heaven belongs to those who turn the story of their lives
into the story of God working out something new and powerful within
them when all else seemed hopeless. The kingdom of heaven belongs to
those who understand God’s extravagant love in the midst of life’s
devastation. Because when we offer the brokenness of our lives to
another person and tell them what God did with that brokenness, then we
become like the owner of a general store who knows where to find
everything to help a customer. It is not about how much Bible we
know. It is not about how many scripture verses we have memorized. It
is not about not the breadth and depth of our theological knowledge. It
is about our experience with Jesus … the One Who Was, the One Who Is
to Come, and especially the One Who Is (right now).
Jesus you are with us right now. We want to complicate matters, but you
have been working on us throughout our lives. You have brought us
through the stormy waters, desert wanderings, wasted days and wasted
nights, and out of the darkness. You have redeemed us. Teach us to rely
on our experience with you and the testimony of you experience with
others contained in Scripture. I give thanks for those in my life who
have weathered the storms and emerged from darkness. Their wisdom leads
me on … AMEN.
SOAP = Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer