Have You Understood These Things? (Matthew 13:51-52)

By Ryan Shaw

We proceed with the last parable of Jesus in the series of eight in Matthew 13 relating to the Kingdom of God. It is not concerned with the Kingdom itself but with the responsibility of disciples to teach the Kingdom during the period between Jesus’ first and second coming.

The pattern of the parable is a question and answer. After finishing teaching the seven parables Jesus asks the disciples if they have understood what they heard – “Have you understood all these things?” They answer “Yes, Lord.”

It was a sincere and honest answer yet it is evident they had not truly grasped the implications. The Lord knew they had not really understood but takes them at their word and begins the parable.

“Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the Kingdom of heaven…” (vs. 52) This refers to those who heard the teaching and understood the truths just given. To bear responsibility in the Kingdom means accurately understanding “all these things” that He taught.

We are not truly prepared for responsibility, according to Jesus, if we are not first clear in our spiritual understanding of the meaning of the parables of the sower, tares, mustard seed, leaven, hidden treasure, pearl and net. We grasp them individually yet also as a unit.

To bear spiritual responsibility requires some grasp of the spectrum and application of these seven parables. Jesus calls those with understanding “scribes.”

The “scribes” were a class of Jewish leaders originating under the teaching of the great Old Testament scribe, Ezra. At that time it was a pure class who taught and explained the law.

By Jesus’ time this category of leader had been reduced to teaching tradition that bound people up instead of setting them free. Jesus had some of His greatest clashes with scribes.

Jesus calls disciples internalizing and applying the parables, “scribes.” This is a prophetic act as Jesus is transferring the role of a true “scribe” from those who had failed in their calling to these uneducated disciples.
They would do as Ezra had done and explain the truths of the Kingdom to a new generation.

Disciples with understanding of the Kingdom, as revealed through these seven parables, go into the world as teachers who provide explanation of these things. They are taught by God and able to communicate with authority because they have experienced a measure of the truth of the Kingdom parables in their own lives.

A “scribe,” of the Kingdom Jesus just taught, faithful to take a stand for the Kingdom in the world, is likened to a householder. “…is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

A householder in the ancient world was a picture of a shepherd, father and king that merge together as one person. It is a person effectively heading up the affairs of a home as shepherd of his people, father of the family and king of the nation. Jesus used the term “householder” this way at least ten times in the gospels, mostly depicting Himself.

What does the householder in this parable do? He brings forth treasure from his treasure house. It is implied the “householder” has vast material resources. What does he do with them? He scatters them widely and lavishly.

A disciple bringing forth “things new and old” speaks of an old principle with a new application. The “old things” are the eternal realities of the Kingdom. The “new” are the applications made by Jesus concerning the phases of its development in history.

The Kingdom of God is an old concept. Jesus’ interpretations for how it will manifest itself between His first and second coming were new applications of it. These applications would have been surprising to the disciples.

The Kingdom of God never changes as it is rooted in the very nature of God Himself. Yet it has sprung forth with new expressions, methods and applications through Jesus among the “sons of the Kingdom.” These are detailed in the seven parables themselves.

Disciples saturated in spiritual clarity about the Kingdom of God as described in these seven parables have access to an eternal treasure house of things new and old.

This means they have a realistic grasp of the human side of the Kingdom (first four parables) seen by the world of natural sight but also know full well the divine side as it is seen in the purpose of God (second three parables).

This new order of “scribes” possesses an authoritative responsibility as “householders.” We lavishly bring forth things old and new – the Kingdom of God applied in every sphere of life in the new covenant.

The great treasure house of the Kingdom is available. We bring this treasure forth among our generation by speaking the view of His Kingdom provided in these parables.

We have been given an entrustment in this parable. If we walk it out our influence in this age will be His influence, bearing eternal fruit for the Kingdom of God.

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