51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. (Matthew 13) I invite you to practice Divine Reading with me this morning! Do you hear Jesus speaking to you through these parables? Do you have ears to hear Jesus asking if you understand the parables of the sower, weeds, the hidden treasure, the pearl, and the net? Like the disciples who sat with Jesus don’t we say, “Yes.” Why wouldn’t we understand? God blessed us with the mental and emotional aptitude to understand Jesus’ detailed explanations. (see Matthew 13:18-23 and 36-43)We hear the word, receive it with joy, and believe. Belief grounds us. It gives us a firm foundation. Remember, the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Scribes believed in God. Do your beliefs give you something to defend, or a foundation upon which you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. (Am I trying to get you to follow me and my beliefs and doctrines, or am I inviting you to join me as we follow Jesus?) In this passage I hear Jesus call me to deny myself, even as I stand on my beliefs. I specifically hear Jesus call me to deny myself as I listen to him say, “…the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old?” Does Jesus’ instructions to HIs disciples leave you with a huge question? His Word begs me to ask, “Lord, what is the new treasure and the old treasure?” Friends, the power of prayer also encourages us to ask God a question about His Word. Ask, “God, what is the old treasure and what is the new? Why, Lord, should I give from both? Isn’t one better than the other? Isn’t one right and the other wrong? My experience urges me to say, “Continue to ask God such questions until the Holy Spirit’s offers you peace beyond human logic and emotion. Then you and I will know how to deny self, instead of potato chips or chocolate!
So, I asked the Holy Spirit to lead me and open my eyes to see God’s answer to my question: “What is the new treasure and the old?” I was led to the Sermon on the Mount. Listen carefully to Jesus’ words. Listen as he speaks of the old treasure and the new treasure. To give from both fulfills the Law of Moses and the Prophets with the Mercy, Grace and Love of Jesus Christ.
Concerning Anger21 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister,[e] you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult[f] a brother or sister,[g] you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell[h] of fire. (Matthew 5) Herein Jesus first quotes the Law of Moses. “You shall not murder.” Second, He turns to the Levitical Law. Which espouses justice as an eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth. Therefore the Old Treasure is a gift. Without the Law and the Levitical Code we would not know the nature of sin. Jesus points the hearer to the New Treasure saying, “But I say to you that if you are anger with a brother or sister you are liable to judgement. Notice he speaks of God’s final judgment in much the same way we hear it throughout the parables. “You will be liable to the hell of fire…the weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Like so many things that Jesus says, the idea of murder and anger being liable to the same judgment doesn’t seem reasonable. Again, experience has taught me to keep refining my questions and seeking the Holy Spirit’s leadership, guidance, and comfort. Therefore, join me in reading the following passage. Notice that, again, Jesus holds the Old Treasure and the New Treasure side by side.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[o] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
What would Jesus have me do with the person who angers me? Isn’t he saying that one who angers me is my enemy. The Old Treasure tells me I may recognize my enemies by my desire for an eye for and eye. Retribution seeks to get even! But, if the roles were reversed wouldn’t I desire mercy? Shouldn’t I treat my neighbor the way I desire to be treated? Isn’t reconciliation the way to be saved from eternal fire, and much of todays weeping and gnashing of teeth? Yes, giving out of the Old and the New is the way into the Kingdom of Heaven. But it requires a lot of self denial and cross carrying.
So, I find that I love the Old Treasure. I study and know the Law of Moses and enough of the Levitical Code to recognize my desire for retribution and hunger for mercy. This is why Jesus teaches his disciples the meaning of the parables. The one who has ears to hear and eyes to see recognizes the power of denying self, carrying their cross, and the cost of following Jesus. (Matthew 13: 10-17)
Therefore, I must have ears to hear! I must discern the many voices seeking to lead me. Am I following Moses? Am I following the Priest of Levi? How about Satan who slips in and steals the Word of The Kingdom of Heaven sown in my heart, soul, and mind? Until I sort out the voices how can I deny them or myself? What if I deny Jesus?
The Law of Moses will lead me to know my sin. The Levitical Code magnifies my sin and teaches me that forgiveness comes through sacrifice. In the midst of that Life Happens. Along comes a pandemic, and we find ourselves at the center of Jesus’ parable. 1. Since we have cancelled corporate worship, we will not be taking up an offering. The building requires the same amount of funds to pay the bills whether we fill it with our presence or practice ‘social distancing.” See how quickly we can find ourselves in thorny ground. (Matthew 13: 22)
2. Some have said, “We are in the healthy group. We can likely survive the virus. Why can’t we come and worship?” Do you or I want to infect our elders? See how easily problems and persecution blind us from the Kingdom of Heaven. Are we blind to how many children are being raised, part-time and full-time, by the elders of our community?
When the elders are gone who will care for the little children? (Matthew 13: 21)When money, individual rights, and opinions become more important than our neighbors health aren’t we guilty of pulling weeds? (Matthew 13: 26-30)
I have come to see that Paul faced the same questions and challenges we face today. Listen with me to how the Holy Spirit leads us to hold the old treasure and the new treasure together.
10For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”[b]12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law[c] will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
So, faith sounds like the person who has ears to hear and identifies all of the voices competing for control of our lives. Faith looks like people denying self righteous opinions that only seek power and control or a need to defend their beliefs. Faith looks like people carrying their cross. At the cross sin meets forgiveness. Of course I may only forgive my neighbor to the degree I ask, seek, and accept God’s forgiveness. Without such faith any talk about grace is cheap. Faith is Jesus denying his suffering to say, “Father, forgive them they do not know what they are doing.” Faith, is Jesus saying, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. Grace is always an Easter morning experience. Grace breathes life into death! Only God has the power of Grace!