New and Old From the Treasure

A particular title from a blog article I saw today reminded me of these words of Jesus found in the ‘kingdom parables’ of Matthew 13, as they are known:

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:51-52)

Jesus had just spent quite a lot of time laying out teaching about the kingdom of God, or kingdom of heaven. And He had done it in parabolic fashion, as was His habit at times.

First of all, I think it interesting that He asks the disciples if they understood all the things He had just taught. There simple response is, ‘Yes.’ It’s interesting because they don’t always understand the parables, though Jesus would take time to explain if necessary (see Mark 4:10-20). But, even more, Jesus used parables to sometimes confound those that are not His disciples, not even willing to give an explanation to help them understand (see Matthew 13:10-17).

But here, after some helpful explaining from Christ, they say they do understand all these things.

So, Jesus continues with some helpful concluding thoughts following His parables: Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.

This is probably a well-known passage, at least to any Bible student or the one who has been walking with Christ for quite some time. But I am intrigued about a few things from this verse:

1) Firstly, the people spoken of here are trained for the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God. This isn’t patty-cake, patty-cake Christianity. This is true discipleship, true following of Christ, truly seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.

It was Paul who taught that the ultimate goal for the body of Christ was maturity (Ephesians 4:11-16). He told the church in Colossae that he struggled with all his energy to present them as mature (Colossians 1:28-29). And Paul let Timothy know that the teachings he had passed on must now be entrusted to faithful people (2 Timothy 2:2).

So, back in Matthew 13, Jesus is not trying to form a group simply made up of Sunday-attendees. Nor is He even try to build a group that could say they have one or two extra add-ons like a small group or Bible study attendance. He is passionately concerned to build up a people who are trained and equipped to follow Him. He wants a prepared Bride to marry, one that is pure and spotless. Remember, He did say He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). Thus, we must at least expect His commitment to this.

Can we catch the heart of Christ to see His followers trained for the kingdom of God?

2) Before moving on to some thoughts about ‘things new and old’, I note that Christ said these things come out of the treasure. Whatever path we want to go down in considering what this treasure is, let’s just stop and realise that this is a treasure.

Again, He isn’t calling us into anything that is a little extra add-on. He is calling us into things that are worth something. Matter of fact, this is so worth something that we should be willing to sell all that we have for this treasure (see Matthew 13:44-46).

And the things that we bring out of this treasure are things of worth. I mean, come on. Don’t we get caught up in the slightest of details at times. Don’t we get caught up in those things that are worth nothing in eternal perspective. But what a patient Father we have. Whatever those old and new things are, they are at least worth a whole lot from the God-perspective. These are things that would withstand the testing of fire (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Remember, we are pulling from a treasure. This is no trivial matter.

3) Lastly, a true disciple of the kingdom of God knows that they are to bring from the treasure both new and old. Now, this is incredibly hard in a 21st century, individualistic society. It’s all about now and today. There is no room for yesterday, much less yester-year.

Of course, the young guns will remind us of the deadness of many things of old. And I do know there are such things that must be discarded, if you will. They served their purpose, but it is time to move forward and move on.

But, again, we must marry the two together, find that healthy tension between the two. At least that is what Jesus tells us the wise scribe of the kingdom does. If you want to go to either extreme, then you will never truly walk in line with the kingdom perspective. And you will never pull from that treasure.

That’s challenging!

For the one who only thinks about today – they have missed it. For the one who lives in a land of nostalgia, only remembering the good ol’ days – they have missed it. But the one who catches a glimpse of the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of the King, they know that they are to pull things both new and old from the treasure.

I want to be this kind of disciple: 1) trained for the kingdom, 2) pulling out from the treasure, and 3) being faithful to pull out both new and old. This is the call of Christ.

The Lordship of Jesus In The Church

Back a couple of posts ago, in the article entitled Entrance Into The Church, I briefly looked at the importance of Christ as Lord of the church. We recognised that many people will focus on Christ as Saviour, which He most certainly is, but many fail to realise that He is also Lord and Master of the church, God’s ekklesia. Or another way of stating it is that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:13-16). And that, my dear friends, is the focus of this article.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus proclaimed:

‘I will build my church…’ (16:18)

Here, Jesus is proclaiming His ownership of the church. It belongs to Him, for as we saw in Ephesians 5:25, Christ ‘loved the church and gave himself up for her’. Building the church, His people, is a priority for Christ since He is Head of the church (Ephesians 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 2:18-19). No one can claim the rights as Head and Lord of the church except the One who gave His life for it and declared He would build it.

And it is the people of God who confess Him as Lord:

…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

But, if we are honest, Christ’s Lordship is not the most favourite characteristic to consider about Jesus. Most are fine for Him to forgive them of their sins, be the one who is a friend and brother, and even identify Him as the one who came to conquer the great enemy. However, to surrender every single thing in our lives over to Him, that is not too appealing to the crowds.

Yet one cannot truly be a Christ-follower, part of His ekklesia, if one is not committed to His Lordship in their life. It is absolutely impossible. And even for those who love to emphasise other aspects of Christ, yet forgetting He is Lord, must also realise that it is because He is Forgiver, Conquering Victor, Friend, Brother, Prince of Peace, etc, that He is also Lord and Master. Only the Lord could be such to us.

Even more, we see how God planned to exalt Christ above everything, not just His own ekklesia:

20…that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20-23)

This is also echoed here:

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

He has the name that is above every name and one day every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. But Christ’s church is to already recognise that in both word and action.

No doubt, the church in the western world, and especially in America, would love the Burger King option of Christianity – Have it your way. But the Lordship of Jesus Christ is not an option that we can choose to accept if we so desire. Jesus is not a smorgasbord of certain things we can pick and choose from as if we are at the hippest buffet restaurant in town. His Lordship is an absolute fact. And those who are truly part of Christ’s ekklesia are called to submit to that reality.

This is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We know the Scripture:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice Jesus did not ask us to get people to make decisions by raising their hand and walking down an aisle. He wanted us to make disciples. One who is a disciple is one who looks to hold to the teachings of their Master. And this is to be even more true of Christ’s ekklesia. Not only that, but a disciple is willing to be disciplined in their desire to follower the Master.

As Edmund Clowney stated:

‘To be sure, if the church rather than Christ becomes the centre of our devotion, spiritual decay has begun. A doctrine of the church that does not centre on Christ is self-defeating and false.’ (The Church, p15)

Ouch! This stuff hurts if we thought Christianity was something like Burger King. Lordship, Master, disciple, discipline, surrender – all words that might make us cringe. Yet, at the same time, we can find confidence and assurance in the midst of such a calling on our lives knowing that our Lord Jesus is all-good, faithful and has our best in mind.

Christianity is to be Christocentric, that is Christ-centred, not self-centred. Therefore, let the church not be swayed from anything less than surrendering our entire lives to Christ. No, this does not mean we will be perfect in this age. We will always be learning as true disciples. But, as we are committed to His Lordship, we will move ever closer to walking out the high calling that we have received in Christ. This truly is glorious.

Click here to read some more thoughts on the Lordship of Jesus in the church.