In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Matthew 13: 31-33; 44-46
The parables of the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price are all about the kingdom of heaven. The mustard seed, even though it’s the smallest of all seeds, when planted in the field it grows to be the largest of garden plants, becoming a tree for the birds of the air to perch in its branches. The yeast, when mixed into a large amount of flour, is worked into the dough for the rising of delicious bread. Both the mustard seed and the yeast are explosive in value to that which it impacts. So is the message of the gospel in comparison to any other human philosophy.
The hidden treasure found in a field brings about joy to the land owner. When the merchant discovers fine pearls of great value, he sells everything else he has in order to buy one. Small and insignificant, but larger than life in the kingdom of heaven, each of these metaphors depict the impact of the kingdom Jesus ushers in with glory and delight. The treasure and pearls describe the inestimable value of the kingdom, worth giving up everything else to acquire. The treasure is eternal life found only through salvation in Jesus Christ; the pearl is the love of Christ, when discovered there’s no need to keep looking for any other substitute. In every parable, Jesus is offering his outstretched arms of love.
These four parables are exquisitely spoken by Jesus, and packed with powerful truths. It’s amazing to notice how the gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything, just like seeds and yeast transform their environments. And, the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven is a treasure beyond comparison, with the pearl of great price being nothing else but the fullness of being known and loved by God in Christ.
With the luxury of insight from hindsight, we can look back and around these stories being heard and received for the first time. Jesus enters the scene and uses the term Kingdom of heaven, but it’s articulated in a brand new way. Over and over again, Jesus uses one metaphor or comparison or parable after another. His hope is that eventually his followers, especially his closest disciples, will finally “get it” and see once and for all that he is the King of this Kingdom then, now, and for all eternity.
When you hear the phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ can you grasp it in your heart and mind? How well do you understand that not only are we to experience kingdom living here on earth, but we also await the fullest consummation of the kingdom with Jesus’ second coming and our eternal glory? Kingdom of heaven is both already (here) and not yet (glory), so it’s totally understandable why the disciples would be confused. It’s a hard one to grasp! That’s why we must behold Jesus coming to establish his kingdom; believe in his eternal kingdom; belong to his kingdom circle; and become a kingdom builder.