General Idea: In these parables, Jesus explains the value of His Kingdom, and the foolishness of chasing after the things of the world. His Kingdom is what life is all about; yet, we tend to wrongly preoccupy ourselves with life in a dysfunctional way. We must come to the point that these teachings from our Lord make a difference. We have to ask the question, and present a real, genuine answer to our Lord and to others around us: Is our faith in Christ authentic; is it making a difference? Or, are we the faker, the pretender, the person who causes strife and dysfunction in His Church instead of glorifying Him (Matt. 7:21-29)? The answer to the question of whether our faith is real or pretend requires us to be discerning, to see if our heart is receiving His Word, or we are only looking to ourselves. Is life all about "me," or is it all about Him? If it is all about "me," then there is a good chance your faith is a fake, or, at the least, needs a lot of work. If your motivation is all about Him, then there is a good chance you are a real, authentic disciple of our Lord, and are applying His Truths into your life.
Do you hear His Word? If not, why not? Do you see the value? Are you as a leader willing to give up your feeble ways, and all that you have, to possess His Truth? If so, what are you doing about it? What has God planted in you? What have you done with it? Is it growing, or is it trampled (John 12:23-28)? And, if you do hear and put into practice His Word, have you told others about Him; has your faith multiplied into the lives of others as well? The barrier that most Christians face, the wall that prevents them taking their faith into their life and relationships, is that they hide the Truth by burying it deep in their lives so it is never shown to those around them! When we receive His Truth, we must never hoard it just for ourselves; it must be proclaimed in our lifestyle, in our deeds, and in our words. It must be real and authentic! Why? Because He is real with us!
1. Hidden treasure, God does not intentionally hide His Word from us; rather, it is clearly proclaimed. We just fail to see it.
a. Jesus is speaking in parables, not to hide the wisdom, but to explain in such a way that it can be easier to grasp. Remember, parables are illustrations that made perfect sense to the audience when first given, but, may require more effort for us-2000 years culturally removed; however, His Truth is there, and it is clear!
b. What causes the truth to be hidden? It is because we cannot see the value.
i. A diamond looks like broken glass unless you know what a diamond is, and a fake diamond will fool anyone who does not know what a real one looks like. His truth looks like gibberish to a fool or to a hard heart, but not to one who has the Spirit within him/her.
ii. When we realize the value of His Truth, we will dedicate our lives to Him! We will sell everything and anything that keeps us away-we will even sacrifice what we like, if it is bad for us or clouds His Way from us, so we can possess His truth (Phil. 3:7-10).
c. It is important to note that in no way can we ever purchase His Truth with money (indulgences), or deeds (good works), as the Church thought (unofficially) in the Dark Ages, a belief which spun the Reformation.
d. People would hide their valuables by burying them, even though banks were available (Matt. 25:27). Indentured farmers would sometimes come across valuables, and sell their home to buy the field to get to the treasure. They could not take it away without others knowing and taking it back. Once purchased, it was theirs. This would have been a daydream for most, and Jesus uses it to illustrate His point.
e. Pearls were much more valuable then. Today we farm them. They had to dive for them, searching long and hard, and with little luck in finding them without the benefit of diving gear like we have today. Thus, as a big pearl today is worth a few hundred dollars, back then, it might have been worth a million. This is also a classic folk tale that Jesus' hearers would have known and even dreamed about.
2. The Parable of the Net is similar to the Parable of the Weeds, and teaches us that we are accountable-we will have to account for our lives (Matt. 13:28-30).
a. There will be judgment when we refuse His grace.
b. This parable also teaches we are not the judges; we cannot separate ourselves from the world, or treat others with contempt (Matt. 4:18-19).
c. Dragnet. This type of net dragged the bottom and picked up everything, whereas other nets skimmed the surface and a few feet below-just like today's fishing boats.
d. Scribes/teachers of the law were men well educated and who knew the Law. They were initiated under Ezra to study, preserve, and apply the law, and to teach the people about God. However, they grew away from their call and used it to rule over-even manipulate-the people with power and wealth (Luke 11:46-52). Jesus seriously criticizes them (Matt. 23:13-36; Luke 37-54) for their hypocrisy. It was not because of their authority or position, but because they willfully skewed His Word, living one way and teaching another. God is a God of Truth and expects us, in Him, to continue in truth and proclaim truth. Here, scribes represent what was considered success and treasure; however, they are the old, and the Kingdom is new and improved.
e. Things new and old refer to the master of the house paying for debts and services out of the household money. He guards the treasure and dispenses it as needed. The true scribe will guard and dispense His Truth, and teach others-as in discipleship-not ruling for the sake of authority or politics (Matt. 28:18-19).
f. Verse 52 concludes Jesus' teaching, and the text switches to a narrative form.
3. They were astonished. The people in Jesus' home town of Nazareth by Capernaum, were in awe of Jesus' teaching and miracles, but did not trust Him. To them, He was a curiosity and a show. Perhaps they were too familiar with Him as a boy growing up; perhaps their pride got in the way, as, how can this boy we have known be our Savior?
a. Even though Jesus was rejected before in His home town, He came back again (Luke 4:16-31). Sadly, for them, this would be Jesus' last stop, and an incredible opportunity for them to see God in the flesh, a God they knew about, but ended up not really knowing. It is just as many Christians who grow up in a church know all about Jesus, but never really know Him personally, or place His truth in their lives. The pearl was thrown out, and they will be thrown out, too. Do not let this happen to you!
b. Most Prophets were rejected in their home town (Jer. 1:1; 11:21-23).
c. Carpenter's son. This word is a general term referring to tradesman. Jesus is often considered to be a woodworker; however, He could have been any tradesman, such as a mason or craftsman. Nazareth was manly a community of tradesmen, carpenters, and masons who were building the Sepphors for the Romans. There was a good possibility that Jesus worked on this project, just like it would be a good possibility that any iron worker in New York worked on the World Trade center.
d. These were people who knew, grew up with, and worked with Jesus. Intimacy becomes betrayal!
e. He did not do many mighty works. Jesus was not unable to do miracles; He just knew it would be ineffective, as their unbelief would not change. So, He did not waste His time.
i. Miracles are of no value unless people have faith (1 Cor. 13:2).
ii. Faith did not empower Jesus! He does not need our devotion. We worship Him out of gratitude for what He has done for us.
We, as followers of Christ, do not need to search for Truth, since we have it already (John 14:6; 16:13; 17:17). Now we are required to preserve it, study it, apply it, and teach it to others, as the Scribes were commissioned to do under Ezra. The Scribes failed, and lost their call and love. They focused on the past and negated the present. They elevated the Law so much it was out of the touch and reach of the people. They became prideful hypocrites and manipulators-the quintessential character that God hates the most. They were blinded by power and greed, and did not recognize what they studied. They learned it, but did not live it; they horded it and did not invest it in others. It was academic, rhetoric, and perverted. What we can learn from them is to follow their commission and not their practice. We are to realize our privilege in having the Truth to study, learn, grow in, and proclaim, because it has been revealed to us. We have the Pearl of Great Price; let us learn it and live it! Let us display it with honor and glory regardless of the sacrifice, because our Treasure is far more valuable than anything we could ever possibly give up!
1. Have you ever found anything of value such as jewelry or money? How did you feel?
2. What are some of the wrong things in life that tend to preoccupy Christians, perhaps even you, in a dysfunctional way?
3. When have you come to the point that Jesus' teachings made a difference in your life?
4. Do you hear His Word? If not, why? Is your faith in Christ authentic; is it making a difference? How can you answer the question of whether your faith is real or pretending?
5. How do you know if your heart is receiving His Word? How can you take a look under your hood of personality and ask yourself if you are only looking to yourself? Is life all about "me," or, is it all about Him?
6. In what ways have you, or you have noticed others, fail to see the hidden treasures?
7. What causes the Truth to be hidden?
8. Read Phil. 3:7-10: What will the committed Christian do when he/she realizes the value of His Truth?
9. Does knowing that we are accountable, and that there will be judgment when people refuse His grace, motivate you or turn you off? How, and why?
10. Are you willing to give up your feeble ways and all that you have to possess His Truth? If so, what are you doing about it?
11. How do you now, and how can you better guard the treasure, dispensing it as needed? The Treasure is His Word, along with the gifts and opportunities God gives you.
12. Do you see the value of His Kingdom? If not, why? What is in the way?
13. How do you suppose that the people in Jesus home town were in awe of His teaching and miracles, yet, did not trust Him?
14. Even though Jesus was rejected before by His home town, He came back again. When you are rejected, what do you do?
15. How is it that many Christians, who grow up in a church, know all about Jesus, but never really know Him or place His truth in their lives? How and why did they throw out the Pearl?
16. We are not absolutely certain that Jesus was, in fact, a carpenter-as in woodworker. He could have been any tradesman, such as a mason or craftsman. Would this shatter your image of Jesus? Why, or why not?
17. What do you think about the Scribes? How are they similar to some of our leaders today? How do leaders get themselves skewed from their call?
18. What has God planted in you? What have you done with it? Is it growing, or is it trampled (John 12:23-28)? And, if you do hear and put into practice His Word, have you told others about Him; has your faith multiplied into the lives of others as well? How can you make sure that when you receive His Truth, you will never hoard it just for yourself? What would it mean for you to proclaim His Kingdom in your lifestyle, in your deeds, and in your words?
19. What can you do to formulate your faith to be real and authentic? Remember, He is real with us! The barrier that most Christians face is the wall of taking their faith into their lives and relationships. They hide the Truth by burying it deep in their lives so it is never shown to those around them! Have you done this? I think we all do at times. If you have, what can you do to dig it up so it shows?
20. How can you be better at preserving The Word-studying it, applying it, and then teaching it to others as the Scribes were commissioned to do under Ezra? What can you do to make sure what happened to the Scribes does not happen to you or your church?
© 2003, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org