DUNCAN/The scribe of the kingdom
Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 13:51-52. We have already surveyed 7 kingdom parables in this great passage, and we refer to them as “kingdom parables” because each of these 7 parables are designed to teach us unexpected qualities of the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God. They are designed to correct misunderstandings that we might have about the nature of the kingdom that the Lord Jesus Christ came to set up. This is obviously important for Jesus’ disciples. Jesus had already commissioned them to be preachers of the kingdom of heaven. It was their job to proclaim this kingdom to their generation. You can’t proclaim what you don’t understand.
These are two short verses packed with practical spiritual truth. If we are truly citizens of the Lord’s kingdom, then these truths will make a practical difference in our lives, in our thoughts, in our priorities, and in our attitudes. These two verses are designed to move us to do two things: they are designed to move us to embrace the truth that Jesus taught in His parables, to apply that truth to our own hearts. Jesus doesn’t want us simply to be interested by these parables. Jesus doesn’t want us to be smarter because we have listened to these parables. Jesus wants these parables to change the way we think about the kingdom. But more than that He wants these parables to transform the way we live as part of the kingdom. But there is a second thing that this passage desires to get across. In this passage, we are moved to understand the nature of true Christian preaching and teaching. So, we will see two things from this passage. First, the question about understanding. And second, Christians must understand the task of the gospel minister and the nature of his message.
I. The Question About Understanding
In verse 51 Jesus asks the question, “Have you understood all these things?” He says this to His disciples, and they reply, “Yes.” In that short exchange we learn that Christians must endeavor to embrace the truth of God preached. It is not simply to be listened to, it is not simply to pique our interest, but we are to embrace it with our hearts and with our lives as we hear the truth of God proclaimed. The question that Jesus asks here is designed to press His disciples to grasp the implications of the parables that He has been teaching.
We know that the people who listened to the parables were interested. Some of them got an inkling of what Jesus was talking about. We know that the disciples understood many things – by their own words they understood many things that Jesus was teaching in these parables. But Jesus doesn’t just want to change the minds of the disciples. He wants to change their lives. He wants them to change the way they look at the kingdom, and He wants them to change the way they live in the kingdom. He’s doing personal, practical, pastoral application of the truth in that question. Why is the application of the truth so important? It is because the mere hearing of the Word profits no one. Jesus Himself, over and over, calls the disciples not to be hearers of the Word, but hearers and doers of the Word. It is not enough for our bodies to be brought within the reach of the sound of the preacher’s voice. Our hearts, our minds, our consciences, and our lives must be brought within the reach of the judgment of the Word of God that we might be changed. The application of the Word of God is essential to our growing by it. That’s precisely what Jesus is doing by asking those disciples the question, “Have you understood all these things?”
II. Christians Must Understand the Task of the Gospel Minister and the Nature of His Message
In verse 52 we learn that Christians must understand the task of the gospel minister and the nature of his message. Jesus says to them in verse 52, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Christ’s disciples were learning to teach. He wanted to stress to them that the things that He was giving to them were not things that they were to keep and ponder in their hearts and not share with anyone else so that they could become great spiritual giants.
The reason that He was giving this truth to them was so that they could share it with anyone, with everyone else with whom they came into contact. What did it mean for them to be disciples of the kingdom? It means four things. First, they are to be students of the Word of God, and they are to be followers of the kingdom of heaven. To be a disciple means more than simply to be a student in the sense of learning things. To be a disciple means for your life to be transformed and to follow in a different way. They not only learn the truth, but they live the truth.
The second thing that we see that Jesus says here is that the scribe who is the disciple of the kingdom is considered significant in God’s eyes. God looks on him like a householder. He is one who is enriched, and he is enriched in order that he can provide for his family. The third thing that Christ says about the disciple of the kingdom is that he has a responsibility to provide for his house. Look at His words in verse 52: “He is like the head of the household who brings out of his treasure things old and new.” Why does he bring out his treasure? He brings out the treasure that he has in order to provide. The scribe who is the disciple of the kingdom has a responsibility to provide spiritual food for the family of God.
And fourth and finally, the scribe of the kingdom teaches things both new and old. He draws out of the Old Testament, but he teaches the foundational truths of the Old Testament in light of Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of heaven. It’s so important for us to know what Jesus expects from those who are disciples of the kingdom, who herald His Word, so that we can place ourselves under a ministry where we do not have to screen it for false teaching. And of course, those disciples teach the whole counsel of God, things both old and new, from the law and from the gospel, from the Old Testament and the New Testament. The disciple of the kingdom preaches the whole counsel of God for the spiritual blessing of your soul. May we seek after the whole counsel of God, and may we be doers of the Word.