Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”
If you haven’t, the meaning of this adage is you cannot make people change their established patterns of opinion and behavior. For many, this is a universal law about human nature that only becomes more ironclad as a given person ages.
Jesus would respectfully disagree. Here in Matthew, chapter 13, as He has unfolded “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” Jesus hasn’t just been looking to convey some useful information. Through seven parables Jesus discloses crucial insights about the Kingdom over which He reigns as King: its beginning on the earth, its nature, its spread, its immeasurable value, and—ultimately—its culmination in the final judgment. The very point of the revelation of the Kingdom of God is to transform our lives – to radically change our opinions, attitudes and behaviors as a part of our Father’s world and His movement and work in it.
Still in Peter’s house, having earlier dismissed the crowds at the shore, Jesus offers His disciples one last parable of the Kingdom – for now – what is known as the parable of the storeroom. Interestingly, even though this is the pinnacle of Jesus’s soliloquy, this eighth and final story doesn’t get much play in the pulpit or in bible studies. Lacking perhaps the everyday connection and the dramatic tension of the tales of a farmer, weeds, mustard seeds, yeast, treasures, pearls and more, this parable can come across as rather boring and bland.
And yet, as we will discover, there is more than meets the eye or the ear in Jesus’ summary of His teaching here in Matthew 13. Before He begins, Jesus is going to turn to His disciples – us – and ask quite pointedly, “Have you understood all these things?” In this question Jesus is provoking us to think back through everything He has taught us. He is pressing us in the direction of applying these truths about the Kingdom, and not simply leaving it up in the air or in our heads. He wants us to personally and practically integrate our lives into the reality of our Father’s will and reign.
Up until this point, Jesus has been telling us what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. He tells us what the Kingdom is but not how to get there – until now. In this last and final parable of the chapter, Jesus will teach us how to access the Kingdom. Jesus is going to point us toward something old and something new. Jesus will help us to understand that what God unveils before us – culminating in Jesus’ sacrifice, death, burial, resurrection, ascension into heaven and His sending forth of the Holy Spirit– is something fresh and yet familiar. To enter into this Kingdom – to experience it, to participate in it, to give witness to it’s glory – all we have to do is live and learn. Let us hear and understand, to be a disciple of Jesus is more than simply to be a student in the sense of learning things. To be a disciple of Christ is to not only learn the truth about the Kingdom, but to live the truth of the Kingdom.
Grace to you!