Instructed For the Kingdom Of Heaven—Matthew 13:44-52
“51Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them,
“Therefore every scribe who has been instructed for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder
who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. Verses 51-52
6God raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace
in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6-7
We Are Instructed To
Ú Find The [TREASURES] Of The Kingdom Of Heaven in The Scriptures.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Verse 44
1 For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1-3
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17
Ú Find The Pearl That [MATTERS MOST] In The Kingdom Of Heaven In the Scriptures.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Verse 45
8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. Philippians 3:8-9
Ú Find Yourself [SEPARATED] From Evil In The Kingdom Of Heaven In the Scriptures.
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Verses 47-50
16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be your father, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
I am so glad you are here this morning, because it is a joy to be with you. To me you are very special group of folks. To begin our lesson we must understand what Jesus meant by the term Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew’s gospel is the only New Testament book to record Jesus references to God’s kingdom as the kingdom of Heaven. In Matthew Jesus uses the term Kingdom of Heaven 32 times in 31 verses and the term Kingdom of God five times in 5 verses. Compare that to the other Gospels: where Jesus; in Mark uses the expression Kingdom of God 14 times in 14 verses; in the Gospel of Luke 32 times in 31 verses; and finally in the Gospel of John twice.
The idea of the kingdom is central to the mission and message of Jesus. We cannot travel through Gospels without being acutely aware of its importance to the understanding of God’s purpose and plan for us. In the Gospels both expressions, Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven, are used interchangeably throughout Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom. They are exactly the same thing.
The Greek word kingdom means the authority, power, and influence of the king. It is the realm or the state in which he exercises his royal prerogatives. The church is his kingdom in that Jesus has all authority and exercises his will in the hearts of believers. But you can also say that all the nations are his kingdom because again Jesus is the king of all kings and dominates and controls all of history. Even his enemies can be placed within this understanding because they are under his feet, and all of them are or will be subject to his royal will. The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven is the invisible eternal power of God expressed in the lives of his people, of his physical world, and of the his invisible spiritual realm of eternity. The Kingdom of Heaven’s influence is in both the visible realm and the invisible. So that no one escapes its blessing or its curses, because there is no place, no era, and no one more powerful than Jesus the Christ.
When Jesus taught the people about the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew thirteen he uses eight parables to explain about it. Today we will look at only three of them in depth. In verses 51 through 52 at the end of his discussion he asks this question, “51 “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” When they responded with yes Jesus tells them the last parable about what a scribe is like who is instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven. The word scribe is used to refer to one who was a learner and educated in the word of God. He was able to write and read the Holy Scripture to others. That is why many of the Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin are referred to as scribes.
Scribes that are instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven are compared to a householder who has a treasure house in which there are old and new items. In those days a wealthy man got that way because he knew how to salvage and save the old as well as being able to buy and store what was new. Of course the old would be used first before the new. For example garments that were still useful would be stored until they were needed again. Everybody got hand me downs, but sooner or later things wear out. So the wise householder had purchased and stored new garments to replace the worn out ones. Scribes in the Kingdom of Heaven are like that. They have stored in the treasure house of God all they need to live with God in his kingdom.
Paul says, “6 God raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” When Paul speaks of the heavenly places he is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven. God graciously raises us from spiritual death to life with Christ, and we sit with Jesus in His ever new realm of heavenly influence and power. The reason is to exhibit to us the riches or treasures of his grace, and what is remarkable is that God continues to display his treasures to his scribes in the coming ages of time. God’s store house is eternal and it is the Kingdom of God. It exists in both heaven and earth, and it exists in that place in you that you learn about God.
The question is how to do we receive instruction in the Kingdom of Heaven? The answer is that we need to read the Bible. It contains both old and new in its store house of God’s grace. Both the old and new covenants are meant to be searched, explored, and used. Let me encourage you to understand that N.T. cannot exist without the O.T. And the O.T. is incomplete without the N.T.
These two covenants work together like two peddles on a bicycle. When you push one peddle down the other comes up ready to supply power to ride the bike. They power each other and us as we learn about God’s rule in our lives. The three parables we will study this morning help us to prioritize what is important in the Bible. And if you understand you are instructed to do three things through these parables. You need to find the treasures in Scripture, the pearl of Scripture, and yourself separated from evil through Scripture in the Kingdom of Heaven.
To begin: we are instructed to find the treasures of the Kingdom of Heaven in Scripture. Jesus explains, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” We have all seen people walking around with metal detectors looking for hidden treasure in the ground. One might find a coin or a ring, but it is unlikely that he would find a treasure trove. Today we have banks and other financial institutions, so that saving and spending money is a lot different than 2000 years ago. Today we deposit a check from our employer, and then write checks from our personal accounts to purchase what we want. Most of us don’t carry large amounts of metal coins around with us. We’ve develop a more efficient system of money.
However, this has not always been the case. Often in ancient times people buried their money in the ground especially during times of war. And if things went badly as often it did in Palestine their treasure was lost until some other generation stumbled upon it. In 1948 when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered one of the documents that was found was a treasure map. During the apocalyptic destruction of Israel in 70 ad someone hid treasure. And right now somebody in Israel is out looking for it.
People sometimes in the first Century were very fortunate and found some old treasure that made them wealthy. The Jewish rabbis actually had a rule about these circumstances. This in a nutshell simply stated “finder’s keepers.” The picture that Jesus’ parable paints is that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who discovers a treasure trove in a field. It’s been hidden and so he covers it up again, and with joy sells everything he owns to buy the field. When you are instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven you will allow nothing to keep you from possessing the kingdom of God
Paul writes to the Colossians, “1 For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Paul worked very hard for those who knew and for those who did not know him that they would be encouraged by the possession of two things. First as an apostle he strove that their hearts would be knitted together in love. Second he worked that they would have the riches of understanding the knowledge of God’s mystery of Jesus. And in verse three he says that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. If you want those treasures then you must gain an understanding of the Scriptures.
What do you need to sell in order to buy the treasures of the Kingdom of Heaven? First you need to sell some of your time to buy its wisdom and knowledge. With joy can you set up a time every day that to open the Bible to find a nugget or two of the kingdom’s wisdom? Time spent in this way will enlighten and encourage you. Second you need to sell some of your energy in the study of Scripture. Bible study is hard work and requires energy. You need a fresh mind eager to learn what God wants to teach you. Mental energy spent in this way will strengthen your inner man and make him grow. Third you need to sell some of your priorities to have the wisdom and knowledge of the kingdom. What engrosses your mind and heart that you feel is important? Those hobbies or concerns or pleasures may be keeping you from developing the joy of the Kingdom’s power. Priority spent in search of the treasures of the Scripture will help you to make each day worthwhile. It will give purpose and meaning to your life. Jesus says to sell it all and purchase the field to possess the treasure of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Paul says, “16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The key word is LET. You have to allow the word of Christ to dwell in your heart not as a poor man with a couple of pennies, but as a rich man rolling in wealth.
Do you remember the Disney cartoon Donald Duck? One of the characters is a duck named Uncle Scrooge. Now old Scrooge is the wealthiest miser in the world. He keeps all his money in a treasure house and inside of it is a gigantic swimming pool. It has a diving board that every day Scrooge uses to dive and swim around in all of his money. He does back strokes and paddles around enjoying every moment. Your heart is a treasure house that needs to be full of the words of Christ. And every day you need to dive into it, swim around in it, and you will discover the Kingdom of Heaven and all of its joys.
Next we instructed to find the pearl that matters the most in the Kingdom of Heaven in the Scriptures. The second parable we want to consider is, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” An emporos or merchant was a wholesale dealer whose business was to buy and resell merchandise. He would travel within a country and to other countries looking for items to buy and then resell for profit. In Jesus’ parable this man is a dealer in fine pearls, and therefore is someone with an experienced eye and discerning tastes.
Pearls are extremely valuable because of their rarity, beauty, and difficulty in harvesting them. The emporos would haggle with the divers over the price of the pearls to resell to the wealthy, who considered them as investments; much as diamonds are used today. The Talmud speaks of pearls as being beyond price. Some pagans even worshiped the pearl as a deity. The wife the Roman emperor Caligula often wore a vast fortune of pearls in her hair, and on her neck, arms, wrist, and fingers. Cleopatra was said to have owned two pearls that would be worth millions of dollars today. When an extravagant ruler wanted to flaunt his wealth he dissolved a pearl in a glass of wine and drank it. And the N.T. describes the gates of the New Jerusalem as 12 single large pearls. Indicating the priceless spiritual value of entering into membership in God’s church.
In the parable the emporos finds the one pearl of such rarity and beauty, and whose value is so great he must sell all his other pearls to purchase it. This merchant is placing his business and future all in one transaction. Jesus is telling us that the kingdom is like the action of our merchant friend. For God to truly rule and influence your life is you have to find the one pearl of great value whose worth to you is more than all other pearls you have. It is a single minded obsession with that one pearl that allows God to empower and transform your life. And the Scripture is not that pearl but it is the place to find it.
What then is the pearl that is of such a price that you must sell everything of value to you for its ownership? Paul tells us it is the value of knowing Jesus Christ. He says, “8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.” He says that the value of knowing Jesus is the surpassing value. This surpassing value is priceless and worth the loss of everything else. To emphasize the point he says I consider everything else as rubbish.
The knowledge of Christ is living our lives through faith in him. It is trust in his words to guide and direct our hearts into a deeper and deeper relationship with God. It is not living by rituals or self righteousness, but in a sincere committed walk with Jesus. It is the experience of the reality of his actual presence in our daily routines. It is his Righteous influencing our hearts, minds, and actions because we have come to know Him. We have become his servants as well as his brothers, and our relationship is based in the foundation of his grace and not our self worth.
Do you really want to stand in the judgment of God with how well you’ve obeyed the rules of law? Are you so confident that you are without sin that you don’t need the pearl of God to make you spiritually rich? How do you want to be found by God in judgment? Have you purchased or made this transaction to own the one pearl Jesus Christ who makes you fabulously wealthy beyond your imagination, or are you still possessing all the other little pearls of life that seem important?
Jesus is the pearl of great price. Haggai called him the treasure of the nations in chapter two. He is the one person that you must find and experience. That is why God inspired human beings to write the Bible. The Bible bears the same nature as Jesus himself. It is both divine and human. To see Jesus walking down the street he would not be remarkable for what he looked like. He would be remarkable for what he did and said. The Bible at first glance looks like any other unremarkable ancient book. But if you dive deep into it you will find the oyster that has the pearl of great value. It is remarkable because its purpose in the O.T. and N.T. s is to reveal Jesus Christ to you for faith. In all of the Bible there is not a book, chapter, or verse that does not lead to the pearl of great price Jesus the Son of the living God. He is the one thing you must focus on in the Bible to discover what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
Finally we are instructed to find ourselves separated from evil in the Kingdom of Heaven in the Scriptures. The last parable is, “47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” This is a parable about the judgment of those who are in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Bible teaches that all humans will be judged. However, many of its teaching about the judgment focus on the nature of the kingdom and the judgment, not of all humankind, but of those who are in the Kingdom of God. This parable is one of those places.
Two thousand years ago on the shores of the Sea of Galilee there were two ways fish were caught in a net. First was a hand thrown net cast out into the sea with lead weights. It would sink to the bottom and then be drawn to the surface. This kind of net was used by a single fisherman. The other way is what this parable refers to. The word used here is a word that is translated by other versions as a dragnet. It was a large net or seine that took several men in two boats to cast and then dragged to the shore. Another way the dragnet was used was to anchor it to the shoreline, and then the boat would go in a large arc dropping the net off , and then men would drag it ashore catching all kinds of fish.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like that net. It catches all kinds of human fish that are dragged to eternity’s shore. Within the kingdom there are good people who love God, and there are bad people who are evil hypocrites. The kingdom’s dragnet gathers them all up and drags them to an inescapable destiny on the shoreline. Here angels sort them from each other into two different eternal destinies. The good are placed in vessels, but the bad are thrown away. When you reach eternity’s shoreline all your options are over. There will be no opportunity to change to the good or fall into the bad. Heaven and Hell are sealed forever.
However, while we are being dragged to eternity’s shore we have opportunity to become a different kind of fish. This opportunity is based on the principle of choice. Paul using a different picture, but teaching the same principle says, “16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” Since the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus’ power, influence, and presence living in us then God calls us to come out of our idolatry and to part company with evil. Abraham Lincoln said, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”
Brothers and sisters we can misapply this Scripture, and unfortunately we have. God has never called us to part with the weak, or those who have different opinions than we do. He has not called us to be angry condemning narrow minded legalists. The God of heaven is one of grace and mercy. And he expects us to be patient, kind, and encouraging to others. Our goal is to build each other up to have a relationship with him and his family.
The parable of the net teaches that when we are instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven we strive for the holiness and not self righteousness. It is God’s who calls us to remember the judgment, and to know that the angels will separate us from the evil that is in his kingdom. When we have to break fellowship with those in the kingdom it must be because the Scripture have said this will destroy the body of Christ. There is sin that leads to death John declares and there is sin that does not. All sin is wrong doing and if we love God we will confess and humbly walk in his light.
Patient loving acceptance should be the norm, because we are all sinful and have doctrinal error. But as God’s angels drags his net to the shore we must grow and change. When God says something is unacceptable he does so clearly in the Bible. We don’t have wonder about it. We don’t have go through tortured logical inferences about it. God will say plainly that this behavior or that belief is unacceptable among his people. And we are to come out those things and pursue holiness, because he has called us to separate ourselves from evil.
Specifically we are called to separate ourselves from those filled with hatred and sectarian division in their hearts. From those who pervert the gospel from grace to works. From those who deny the divinity and lordship of Jesus. He’s called us to part company with those who persist in un-repented sins of the flesh like sexual immorality or drunkenness. He says come out of them and he will welcome us as a father welcome his sons.
In conclusion Jesus wants you to be a well instructed scribe in the Kingdom of Heaven. If your life and heart are under his authority then you will use the whole Bible to grow and help others to know God. You will be discovering new treasures, and enjoying its one pearl of great value, and you will separate yourself from evil. And the reward is to experience the power and deity of Jesus in your life and for your whole eternity.
Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you for your power, authority, and influence through Jesus. Help me to be well instructed in the Kingdom of Heaven. I want to find its awesome treasures, and possess Jesus it great pearl of value. But I know to do so I must part with evil and strive for holiness. Father I am so imperfect and sinful please help me to come out of evil and love you. I need your power to keep me from being self righteous as I lay my heart before you this morning. Forgive me, and guide me to do your will. In Jesus name, amen.