The Scriptorium

Understanding the Kingdom

Understanding is one thing. Learning is another. Matthew 13.51-58

Matthew 13: Kingdom Extravaganza (6)

Pray Psalm 5.11, 12.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Sing Psalm 5.11, 12.
(Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
Let those rejoice who seek You and shelter ‘neath Your wing.
Their tongues shall rise to speak to Your praise; Your grace they sing.
Your people You will bless, Lord, all those who to You yield.
Preserve them with Your best Word, and guard them like a shield.

Read Matthew 13.1-58; meditate on verses 51-58.

Prepare.
1. If we understand Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom, what should we be like?

2. How did the people of Jesus’ “own country” respond to His teaching?

Meditate.
Having finished this teaching segment, Jesus asked His disciples whether they understood “all these things” (v. 51). They indicated they did. And, at one level, I’m sure they were being honest.

But understanding a teaching is one thing; learning it is another. The disciples had not yet learned the Kingdom, but they would, in time. And they would come to treasure it, even to the point of giving their lives for it.

Jesus elaborated on one aspect of what it means to be “instructed” concerning the Kingdom of heaven – that is, truly to learn it (v. 52). As we learn the Kingdom, we bring out its bounty (Greek: θησαυρός, thesaurus – treasury) to enjoy and share. The Kingdom is not just an idea. It’s a reality that brings blessing to all who participate in it. The phrase “things new and old” may have connoted wine to the disciples, or other precious items. We may understand Jesus as referring to old and new aspects of the Kingdom, or even Old and New Testaments (though there was no New Testament in Jesus’ day). We are to enjoy, experience, proclaim, and share all aspects of the Kingdom from whatever source we find them, whether old or new.

In Jesus home town of Nazareth, His teaching was not well received (vv. 53-57; cf. Lk. 4.16-30). The people were astonished at His teaching, but mainly because they didn’t expect it to come from Him. He was, after all, just the local carpenter’s son, wasn’t He?

Well, no. And their failure to believe in Him when He applied the prophecies of Scripture to Himself deprived them of the greater blessing of His ministry (v. 58). Jesus withholds blessing where faith is not in evidence.

Rather than let their astonishment lead to wonder, and wonder to faith, the people of Nazareth became “offended at Him” (v. 57). People will always be offended at the teaching of Jesus, but that didn’t stop Him from teaching, and it shouldn’t stop us from talking about Him. Their unbelief will be their loss; our faithfulness in proclaiming Christ and His Kingdom will be our gain.

Have we understood all these things?

Reflect.
1. How would you explain the relationship between understanding and learning?

2. What are some examples of “things old and new” that you delight in about the Kingdom of God?

3. What can we do so that, when we’re talking to people about Jesus, and they become offended, they are offended because Him and not because of us?

A scribe is one who, through continual reading of the Old and New Testaments, has laid up for himself a storehouse of knowledge. Thus Christ blesses those who have gathered in themselves the education both of the law and of the gospel, so as to “bring forth from their treasure things both new and old.”
Cyril of Alexandria (375-444), Fragment 172

Send me forth in the joy of Your Kingdom, Lord, as I go out to…

Pray Psalm 5.1-8.
What will you bring of the Kingdom – old things and new – in working your Personal Mission Field today?

Sing Psalm 5.1-8.
Psalm 5.1-8 (Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
O Lord, attend and hear me, consider how I groan.
Receive my cries and near be, and love me as Your own.
By morning, Lord I seek You, for You will hear my voice.
My every need You speak to, and make my soul rejoice!

In sin You take no pleasure; no evil dwells with You.
Vain boasts You will not treasure, nor those who boasting do.
Sin kindles Your hot anger, You crush all those who lie.
The violent live in danger of Your all-searching eye.

O Lord, Your lovingkindness escorts me in this place.
I bow before Your highness and praise Your glorious grace!
In righteous ways You guide me; Your pathway I will know.
No good will be denied me as I with Jesus go.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore