Text: Matthew 13:44-52
For wisdom in discerning the Kingdom of God
To hold memory together with hope
For those who work the sea
Each of the Gospels provide a unique and valuable portrait of Jesus, but I suspect that Matthew, with his feet firmly planted in the Jewish world of Torah, captures the cultural thought of Jesus best. For instance, his regular use of the phrase “kingdom of heaven (kingdom of the heavens)” connects to Jewish piety about using the name of God that the gentiles Mark and Luke do not know. It is likely a piety that Jesus himself shared.
Matthew also shows greater concern to demonstrate that Jesus is grounded in “what came before.” The Jesus in Matthew is faithful to the Law—he comes to fulfill, not to abolish, he comes to reveal, not to abandon. The story that Matthew tells is of a Jesus who has one foot firmly planted on the Law and the Prophets, even as with the other foot he is striding toward the wondrous revealing of God’s new action. So, of course Jesus commends to the disciples the (now Christian) scribe, who acts with wisdom and knowledge and therefore draws out of both Old and New the treasures that belong to the Kingdom.
We Americans, on the other hand, have always been suspicious of “what came before.” The current accusations against the past and its inhabitants, however just those accusations may be, are nonetheless the latest version of what Americans have been saying from our beginning. We throw off the tyrannies of the past; we move toward a brighter future; we owe no allegiance toward “what came before.” I think a good argument can be made that our very tendency to let the past disappear, forget what happened “back there,” and live only, always in the present moment is one root cause of our current struggles.
For the Christian, we have no cause, no good reason to forget. We cannot ignore that we are part of a community that has a two millennia memory, with an extended family whose memory goes back even farther. More importantly, the Word that God speaks to us in this day does not change; wisdom always seeks to compare what we know of God now with what he told us back then. Both Old and New are full of treasures that the wise and knowledgeable seek.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks