Our texts on Sunday came from Matthew chapter 13 and it is a collection of parables.
Parables are challenging to preach on, because usually an explanation accompanies them limiting how you can translate or interpret that into our time and our place.
All of these parables are talking about the kingdom of God and all these parables talk about how the kingdom is hidden.
The first one we have is how the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, small but grows up to be a mighty bush. It calls to mind the story about how if we have faith the size of a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are not the smallest seeds in the world, but they are pretty mighty; in addition to growing huge bushes, they also took the bland foods of Biblical times and added spice to it. Bishop Richard Jaech at our Southwestern Washington Synod Assembly stated that we, as Lutherans, need to be like mustard seeds, “spicy”. The kingdom of God is small, and its mighty, and its flavorful, and its spicy; so is our role within it.
The second parable is about a woman who takes yeast and mixes it with three measures of flour, creating enough bread, leavened bread, for over 100 people. Yeast, today, comes in little packets. You mix it with water and it starts filling your home with the smell of fresh baked bread. Its great! I love yeast and bread! But, not so in the Biblical times. In the Biblical times, the “yeast” was a small piece of bread left over from previous baking that has become molded. Sounds very yummy, doesn’t it?
I think that sometimes the ugliness of our world and unfortunate things that happen in our lives, whether initially intended for it or not can be used with, and through, and despite us for the betterment of the kingdom, for the betterment of all.
The third parable is about a man who finds buried treasure. He returns the treasure to where he found it, goes, and sells all his possessions to purchase the land; in order that the treasure might be his.
This sounds odd. Why wouldn’t this man just take the treasure?
That would be dishonest. I think this may point to a need of integrity. That the kingdom of God can be hidden, but when its found, you want it. But, we need to do it the right way. The wrong way for the right reason are still wrong ways.
The next parable is a man searching for this great pearl and he finally finds one. He goes and sells all of his possessions, in order to buy this pearl. Again, once you find the kingdom, even if its glimpses of the kingdom, you don’t want to let go of it. You’re willing to sacrifice everything in order to obtain it.
Our last parable comes with an explanation and its connection to last week’s is not unseen. In this parable, the fishermen throw out their nets and bring in what was hidden from the water, various types of fish, and then fishermen sort the good from the bad. Jesus is telling this parable to his disciples, who many were professional fishermen before becoming fishers of men. And yet, they are not the fishermen in this parable. The fishermen in the parable, doing the sorting between the good and the bad, are the angels. Thus, it returns us to last week with the wheat and the weeds being separated by the angels at the end of days.
Our job is to look for those glimpses of the kingdom, to love, to serve, to seek justice, to act with compassion and mercy, and to proclaim the Word.
Our job is NOT to sort out the good and the bad. Leave that to God. Amen!
The scripture was Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52.
This is a summary of a sermon preached on 29 July 2017 at the congregational camp-out.