New and Old Treasure

Today’s post concludes the series exploring the kingdom parables of Matthew thirteen.  I want to share some final thoughts in relation to the following parable (number eight?) that ends Jesus’ teaching.  Depending upon the translation, this one is either referred to as the householder, the owner of a house or the master of a house.  Normally, this parable rarely finds its way into the overall tally with the others in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew.   I think this brief one bumps the number of parables to eight.  By way of context, this one follows immediately after the Lord finishes the parable of the dragnet:

“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:51-52, ESV).

My off-the-cuff observation may sound a little snarky, but the disciples’ affirmative response to Jesus’ question surprises me.  These men asked him earlier to explain to them the meaning of the parable of the weeds (Matt. 13:36, ESV).  It seems to be a little bit of a stretch to take the disciples at their word.  Now, I do not want to draw too much from this point.  After all, it probably reveals more about me rather than the disciples.   In no way do I want to read into the text what it does not say.  If I place myself in their shoes, would I behave any differently?  I think no is the honest response.  After all, if Jesus does not question or rebuke them for their answer, then it might behoove me to keep moving forward instead of making a mountain out of a molehill.

Now then, what does Jesus intend to teach his disciples with this parable about a master of a house?  Based on the context, it seems to me that the Lord expresses the view to the twelve that they are possessors of both old and new treasure.  He has entrusted to them the secrets of the kingdom, which they are to steward (Matt. 13:11-12, ESV).  I see this final parable as anticipating the great commission that the Lord commands his disciples before his ascension to the right hand of the Father (Matt. 28:19-20, ESV).  In this parable, he does not instruct them to venture out among the nations.  Instead Jesus lays the foundation for their future missionary efforts. According to his’ own words, he has trained the apostles for the kingdom of heaven in order to share the old and new treasures (Matt. 13:52, ESV).

Did the sharing of the kingdom’s old and new treasures end with the death of the apostles in the 1st century?  The answer is a resounding no.  Every person who came to faith in Christ under the original apostles inherited their same calling to bring out of their storehouse both the new and old treasure.  The Lord inaugurated this pattern during his earthly ministry, and established it with the Great Commission before his ascension.  All those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior throughout church history had a responsibility to share the new and old treasures of the kingdom of heaven.  They are not to be hoarded nor buried deep within the earth.  The expectation of Jesus was that his followers would come alongside men and women in order to tell them about the good news of the kingdom.  Today, this remains the mission of each believer and the church.

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