1 Kings 3: 5-12 Matthew 13: 44-52
Once I discovered that Dan, during his time with us here at St David’s and Castle Square had decided to preach by exploring the Parables. I thought it would be a good idea, on the Sunday’s that he and the family are not with us, if I continued with his trend. It provides some continuity for us as we explore these riddles, and it challenges me to do some thing other than follow the Lectionary – which is what I’m used to doing!
I like the way that Jesus uses examples of daily life to paint pictures of God’s Kingdom. That can however, for us be more than a little bemusing. For me, and maybe for some of you too – I need to seek wisdom as I unpack the stories and look for the surprise held within. Maybe long before Jesus became incarnate, Solomon understood the need to seek God’s wisdom if he was to fulfil his calling, both diligently and faithfully.
The first of the Parables we heard this morning, is probably not one of the most well known of them and, may seem out of character to the way that Christ describes the Kingdom of Heaven, although this might sound strange to us, it would be perfectly natural to the people in Palestine not only in the days of Jesus but would also paint a picture that the people of the area would still recognise today. Palestine is probably the most fought other country in the world and in the time of Christ when war threatened it was common practice for people to hide their valuables in the ground before they took flight in the hope but when they returned they would regain that which was important to them. It may seem that this parable glorifies a man who on finding treasure, even if that is by working hard and digging deeper than perhaps he needed to, hides it and secures it for himself at any cost, in fact at the cost of everything he owned. So is the message in this story we need to be encouraged to work hard, to dig deep to do good put in the extra effort so that we too may hold the Kingdom – the treasure, in our hands? Or is there more to it than that? Rather like the way we contemplated our own lives and our community as the soil in the parable of the sower. Is there some treasure within us as individuals or as a community of God’s people that” we are in danger of missing, burying, or throwing away? Perhaps you have experienced the sheer joy of discovering even for a fleeting moment a wonder that you cannot believe how you or someone else has never noticed before.
In our second parable about the precious pearl we hear again about the kingdom of heaven being like treasure. In the ancient world pearls had a special place in people’s hearts – in fact it might have been said that pearls were a girl’s best friend! This means that Jesus was saying that the kingdom of heaven is the loveliest thing in the world, to be in the Kingdom is to accept and to do the will of God. Where this parable may appear to have the same point as the previous one, there is a difference. The man digging the field was not necessarily searching the treasure he stumbled on it unexpectedly. The merchant who discovered the pearl of rare beauty, has spent his life in the search. The result is the same, everything he knows and owns needs to be sold or let go of in order to be part of the Kingdom. I believe this parable is demonstrating that the Kingdom is not something to be owned or held like other things we have in our lives, how ludicrous is the story of a pearl buyer and seller who in finding the best pearl ever has to give up being a pearl merchant altogether?
These incidents happen, like being swept up in the indiscriminate fishing net, God desiring all of creation to be reconnected with God self. The surprise for me in this passage was that it is God’s agents or Angels who sort the good from the bad, it is not down to humankind to judge. Maybe this is saying that God doesn’t reject us but those that are discarded are the ones that reject God.
Grace, we don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it, in most cases we don’t even anticipate it, but there it isThe Grace and Love of of God, Thanks be to the ever loving and generous God!