Matthew Message #41 Ed Miller

The parable of the hidden treasure, the parable of the pearl of great price, the parable of the dragnet and the parable of the head of the household.


Let me set the boundaries of what we were talking about last time and then pick up from there, where we left off.  As you know, we’ve been studying Matthew 13; the kingdom of heaven parables.  So far we’ve looked at four of them; the parable of the soils and sometimes called the sower; the parable of the sower, sometimes called the wheat and the tares; the parable of the mustard seed and then last time we closed with the parable of the leaven. 

The key to understanding these wonderful parables is to remember that they are all kingdom of heaven parables.  They are all parables about the grace of God, about the realm where God lives and where God rules.  These parables describe Christ and describe grace; the gospel; the good news; the life of the Spirit of God.  They are Christian life parables and they contain Christian life principles.  These parables are not parables of Christiandom, as it’s known in the world today, made up of friends and frauds.  That is not what it’s talking about.  Those who actually possess and those who just profess; just give lip service. 

Some people think that because these parables mention the tares as well as the wheat and the bad fish and the birds and the leaven, that God is describing the church with the good and the bad together.  That is not what He’s talking about.  He’s not talking about the mixture of evil and good in Christendom and it’s obvious and it might even be hinted at in some of these details but that is not what these parable are about.  These parables, every one of them, are optimistic.  They are all victorious and they are all positive.  They all reveal the Lord Jesus Christ.  They describe the Christian life as it would be lived if we lived in heaven.   That’s His kingdom; the kingdom of heaven.  He’s just giving these principles for earth.

One more thing by way of review and I believe it will be an enormous help in understanding all of these parables.  That is, the suggestion that I made that you nail down the chief point of each parable.  There is one main teaching in each of these marvelous parables and the details that are in the parables are just the nuts and the bolts that hold the story together; a spiritual meaning out of each detail.  If you try to squeeze some spiritual truth out of all of those details, you might get yourself in a little Dutch. There’s been some awfully squirrely theology that has come out of the parables because they just dip in and grab out a detail that has no connection with the main point that the Lord had in His mind and they build a theology around it.  It’s very dangerous. Not only if you are studying the parables, but all the through the Bible, study it in its context.  Look at what God is talking about.  Try to catch the burden of the Holy Spirit.  We’re not trying to be clever when we touch the word of God.  We’re trying to see what God is really saying and what is on His heart and what is on His mind.  The best principles of interpretation are those that take you closest to the mind and heart of God.  Try to find out exactly what God had in mind when He recorded that.  I think that’s a safe principle and very sound and a very logical principle of studying any book.  Find out what the author had in mind.  That’s a good way to study any book. We’re going to look at these main principles and then I think the safe way to look at the details is how they tie in to those main principles.  Of course, underneath it all is the prayer that the Spirit of God might illumine us and be our teacher because apart from that we can just forget it.  We’ve just wasted time gathering together.  

Let me give the summary statement of each of the main principles and then we’ll look at the next parable.  Matthew 13:1-9 with its inspired interpretation, verses 18-23, the parable of the sower and the four soils.  The message is this; the kingdom of heaven is like the Lord freely sowing the word of God on all soils but He’s not forcing any soil.  He’s looking for a receptive heart and looking for a receptive soil.  That’s what the kingdom of heaven is like.  God will never force His seed on anyone.  He’ll throw it on all the soils but He longs for the good soil. 

Matthew 13:24-30 with its inspired interpretation, verses 36-43, the parable of the sower of good seed.  In this parable the kingdom of heaven is not likened to a field in which are growing wheat and tares.  It’s not like a field.  It’s like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  This is a parable of hope and wherever the Lord has not planted in your life and mine, shall be rooted up.  Matthew 13:31-32, the parable of the mustard seed.  This is a parable of life.  The kingdom of heaven is compared to a seed, a seed that is insignificant in its beginnings but because it contains life, it guarantees growth and production.  The kingdom of heaven is like a seed; full of life.  

When we closed last time we were discussing the fourth kingdom of heaven parable; Matthew 13:33, where the kingdom of heaven is compared to leaven, describing the workings of the grace of God, brought from without, working deep from within and gradually transforming the unleavened paste into itself.  The kingdom of heaven is like that.  The grace of God comes from the outside, is brought to the inside and begins a slow work from the inside out until it transforms the unleavened paste into itself.  In every case, whether you are talking about the good soil receiving unconditionally and without qualification the seed, or the work of God Himself or the life within the seed, or the transforming power of the grace of God, it’s all positive; it’s all good and it’s all describing the spiritual life that He intends; a reflection of heaven.

That brings us to the last three kingdom of heaven parables;  Matthew 33:44, the hidden treasure, verse 45&46, the merchants seeking pearls, and verses 47-50, the dragnet.  We’ll look at these as we looked at the others.  We’ll try to identify the main point and then look at the details in terms of that main point.  Follow along from verse 45-52 and even though 51 & 52 is in another parable, it’s not a parable of the kingdom of heaven.  It’s the clincher to the whole section but it’s not about the kingdom of heaven.  So, we’ll look at that; I’ll include that in our reading.  “’The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field which a man found and hid and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every king and when it was filled they drew it up on the beach and they sat down and gathered the good fish in the containers but the bad they threw away.  So it will be at the end of the age.  The angels shall come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous and will cast them into the furnace of fire and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Have you understood all these things?’  They said unto Him, ‘Yes,’ and He said unto them, ‘Therefore, every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.’” 

Verse 44, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which a man found and hid and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and he buys that field.”   As you can see, the only information we have to work with is in verse 44.  It’s only one verse.  It’s a short parable.  There are not many details but it’s amazing, even the ones there are, what a variance in interpretation there are among the commentators; even in a one verse parable. 

Let me get before your heart what I consider the Holy Spirit’s burden, the main point and the chief teaching of this wonderful parable.  The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, a precious treasure.  His point of this parable is the exceeding value of the kingdom of heaven.  It’s like a treasure and most especially, the heart of the kingdom of heaven, Christ Himself.  Christ Himself is the heart and soul of the kingdom of heaven.  When you talk about grace, you are talking about Christ.  When you talk about the laws of the Spirit, you are talking about Christ.  The kingdom of heaven is the realm in which the king rules.  So, the treasure here, I believe is the kingdom of heaven, but especially as it relates to our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is presented as a valuable treasure; a great wealth; a fortune.  Such a great treasure, that the one who found it could only do one thing, and that is to sell everything that he had so that he’d have enough money to buy that treasure, to buy that field.

So valuable is the gospel, so valuable is the grace of God, so valuable is the truth of the Spirit, the kingdom of heaven, so valuable is the treasure Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, that there is only one reasonable wisdom.  That is, to part with all earthly, so called “treasures” and obtain the only real treasure, the Lord Jesus Himself.  Of course, that main point is consistent with the balance of truth throughout the Bible.  Christ throughout the Bible is presented as a treasure and He’s constantly contrasted with those treasures of earth, where moth and rust corrupt, where thieves break in and steal.  This is the One that He spoke of when He said to have a single eye and to have your treasure laid up in heaven.  This is what He means when He says to be rich toward God.

One time I saw an acrostic on the word “faith”.  An acrostic is when it takes the first letter of a word and then makes a saying about it.  The acrostic was this, “Forsaking all I take Him.”  That’s the message of this parable.  He’s the One that’s the great treasure and in order to get that great treasure, forsaking all, I take Him.  Jesus is to be highly esteemed over the price of the whole earth.

Let me mention some of the details in this particular parable.  Even though it’s a short parable, there are five details that the scholars have fought about through the years.  Let me get a little bit of it before you and try to touch on what is common denominator.  We don’t want to argue over these things or try to select a school of thought but just find out what the Lord had on His heart.  The first question, of course, is what the field is.  What does the field stand for?  The field had treasure hidden in it.  Some say, “Well, that’s easy to understand the field.  Matthew 13:38, the field is the world.  You see the Lord Jesus Christ came down as a treasure from heaven and He was hidden because of His condescension. He was hidden in the field; in the world.”

Others say, “The field is not the world.  The field is the Bible because the word of God is where Christ is hidden.  That’s the field.”   Others say, “No, it isn’t.  The field is Satan’s dominion and that’s why that fellow could rip him off and hide this thing in his field, because he’s a usurper and Christ came into the devil’s world.  He’s the prince of the power of the air and he’s the god of this world and in the wilderness didn’t he tempt the Lord Jesus saying, ‘All that Your eyes see I’ll give you,’ because this is his world.  So, the field is satan’s world and this man found Christ in satan’s world.”

Someone else says, “It is not.  It’s the human heart.  That’s the field.  When he hid the treasure where it would not be lost, he hid the treasure in his own heart because it could not be lost as long as it’s hidden in the heart.”  Others say, “No, no.  The field is Israel.”  Others say, “No it isn’t.  It’s the church.”  Others say, “No; it’s the remnant.”  They go bananas over all these details and that’s just the first detail. 

What is the field?  Let me give two answers to the question.  The first is that I don’t know.  I’m not sure it means anything.  The second answer is the common denominator truth.  I know this; the field is the place where the treasure is.  I know that from the parable.  That’s safe.  The field is the place where the treasure is and the field was only important and valuable because it contains the treasure.  It may be better off to leave it blank and just say, “Whatever contains Jesus, that’s the field.”  At least there is a great life principle that flows from that, even if God didn’t intend that.  Always in your life, always, always, always  keep your eye on the treasure and not on the field.  I suggest that you do that.  Always look to Christ alone.  But there is also a sense in which the field has value.

We’re to appreciate not only the treasure but the field that contains it.  For example, if God were to provide physically for you and he were to use some human instrument to provide your physical needs, when you receive that provision, praise God.  Worship the Lord and adore Him.  He’s the source and reservoir of all gifts.  It comes from God.  But then also appreciate the field.  Appreciate the instrument that contains the treasure; the field that He used. 

Whatever contains Jesus; it could be the Bible or it could be other Christians.  Very often they are the vessels that contain the great treasure.  It could be nature.  Sometime in your life when you’re meditating on the Lord and you are out in nature, that contains the Lord Jesus.  It’s a precious thing when it contains Jesus.  It might be a book or a piece of literature or a radio program or television program.  It could be a suffering that He brings into your life; a disorder of some kind; a sickness or a loss; some experience.  If it contains Jesus, it’s precious.  It’s not as precious as the Jesus it contains.  The treasure is always greater than the field but also appreciate the field.  Nothing in life is worth passing by that contains the Lord Jesus.  Everything else you can let go of but those things that contain the Lord, lay hold of those.  That’s the first fact and I suppose the first answer is the right one.  I don’t know what that field is supposed to represent.

The second fact, what does the hiding mean?  Again, men have tried their hand at it and tried to interpret and some with their eye on the Lord in a Godly way.  They say that the treasure is hidden, Christ is hidden because of man’s blindness and man’s ignorance, and until God reveals Him, He’s hidden and we can’t see Him.  He’s hidden by our ignorance.   Others say, “Well, that can’t be so in this parable because it’s not God that hides it but it’s the man who finds the treasure that hides the treasure in the field.  So, what does the hiding mean?”  One says, “Hiding might not necessarily imply secrecy.  That’s what we usually think of when we’re going to hide it, so that you can’t find it and I don’t want anyone else to know where it is.  So, I’m going to hide it from others.”  Maybe but then someone else says, “It may just be that this man has found such a treasure, he doesn’t want to lose it, so he’s putting it where it won’t be lost; hiding it in the sense, not of secrecy but of safety and putting it in a safe place. ‘It’s such a great treasure I can’t put it just anywhere.’  So hiding may not even mean secrecy.”  Others think there is a rather shady deal going on in this parable, that there is some under the table dealings.  A man finds a treasure and then he hides it in the field and then he goes to the owner and says, “I’d like to buy your field,” and the man who owns it doesn’t know there’s a treasure in it, so he sells it for the price of the field and this guy gets a good bargain because he knows there is rich ground there because he himself has buried a treasure in it.”  And there are all kinds of explanations as to what that is to mean.   What does it mean?  What are the details?

Again, I think the hiding is one of the details that if you try to interpret it, you are going to end up in all kinds of trouble.  I think it’s just holding the story together.  Let me illustrate what I mean.  This might sound simplistic but I think it’s at least this much.  Notice verse 44, the kingdom of heaven is likened to something.  It’s likened to not like a treasure on a table or a treasure in a box.  The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hid in the field.  That’s what He’s saying the kingdom of heaven is like; it’s like a treasure hid in a field.  If we stopped there we’d have no problem.  How did the treasure get there?  Is this too simplistic?  Somebody hid it there.  That’s one of the details.  If He’s going to say, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hid in a field,” he would say, “Someone hid it there.”  I think it’s a fact in order that He might have a likeness to the kingdom of heaven.  I don’t know if it has a spiritual significance.  Why this detail.  I think it’s just to tell us how it got in the field, so that He could have a story and He could have something to compare the kingdom of heaven to. 

You could force and I know there are plenty of places in the Bible talking about hiding.  If you want to we could go into spiritual principles about the hidden Christ.  All I’m trying to say is I’m not sure that God intended anything by that.  If you want to study the hidden Christ, study Colossians, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”  There’s a lot in there about the hidden Christ but I don’t think in this parable that God means anything by it except that it’s one of the details that holds the story together.  I know this treasure was in the field and that it was worth everything that this man had.

One of the big points of this parable is finding the treasure.  You can’t find it unless it’s hidden.  It’s just one of those details that is needed if you are going to find the treasure, I think.  I think He was just creating a likeness to the kingdom of heaven and He just threw that detail in.

The third fact has to do with the word “found” in verse 44, “A man found this treasure.”  Some have contrasted this parable with the next one; the seeking merchant.  And they have observed in verse 44 there is no seeking.  He just found it.  He wasn’t looking for it.  He wasn’t searching for it.  The treasure in verse 44 apparently was unsought.  I don’t know how.  He doesn’t tell us.  This man evidently stumbled upon it, unaware.  While in the next two verses the merchant is out deliberately searching for jewels, for pearls.  From that point, some have said the Lord is the treasure and, therefore, He’s just found.  No man seeketh after Him.  He’s just found.

Some time ago, you probably remember it, I forgot the group that started it, but there were buttons and bumper stickers with the words “I found it.”  I think it was Campus Crusade, or something.  I don’t know who started it.  When man says, “I found it,” God says, “I revealed it.”  That’s the only way man is going to find anything.  He doesn’t find it by searching for it.  He finds it because God is gracious and God reveals it.  We won’t go into this now, but here’s a good definition of seeking the Lord.  It’s from Luke 19.  What is seeking the Lord?  The answer is “responding to Him seeking You.”  You read the Zacchaeus story in that light and you’ll understand what it means to seek the Lord.  It’s nothing else than responding to His seeking you.  Whether or not God intended that saying, “he found it,” was that he wasn’t seeking for it, and all.  I don’t know how much God intended in this parable.  It doesn’t seem to contradict the grace principles, yet I still think that’s just scenery.  I think it detracts from the main point. 

There is one detail, though, that I think is important in terms of the main point and it has to do with the expression, “From joy over it, he goes and sells all that he has.”  In your mind or in your Bible, or however you do it, underscore “from joy over it”.  I think that detail is in keeping with the main point.  And it’s perhaps the most important detail of this parable.  The parable has to do with the preciousness of Christ, the great treasure.  So valuable is this treasure, that the one who finds Him, recognizes the worthlessness of this world; no value whatsoever.  And he surrenders everything; nothing is kept back; everything is surrendered and everything is counted loss, for the excellency of knowing Christ.

I thinks it’s important to underscore the words “from joy over it” because it sheds light on the truth of surrender.  This is a great parable on surrendering everything to have Christ.  When a man or woman’s eyes have been opened to the value of Jesus Christ and you come by revelation to see how precious He is, there is no struggle in surrender.  There is joy in surrender when you have the value of Christ.  When a man struggles with surrender and has trouble surrendering his family or his children or his job or his income or his vacation or his talents or his education, it’s a dead giveaway he has a low vision of Jesus Christ and has a low value of the Lord.  There is no pain in letting go of vanity.  It’s easy to let go of nothing.  There’s no pain in dropping garbage.  Fact is, there’s a joy in dropping garbage.  The problem comes when we don’t see it as vanity and we don’t see it as garbage.  When this world appears to have an intrinsic value and appears like it’s worth something and we lose the fact that it’s passing away, it takes a mighty miracle of God to show us the real value of this world.  And He never shows us the real value of this world, except first He show us the real value of Christ and it’s in proportion to that revelation of Christ that you see how vain this world really is. 

It’s easy to say, “Gold is vanity, silver is vanity, houses are nothing, lands are nothing, I don’t want prestige, I don’t want fame and I don’t want popularity, I don’t need a whole bunch of friends, position is nothing to me.”  It’s easy to say that.  Is it true?  When does it become true?  It becomes true as God increases our vision of how precious our treasure is.  The more clearly we see how precious He is, the more we’ll see how worthless everything on the earth is.  This can’t be reversed.  It cannot.  If I struggle with surrender it’s because I have a low view of Christ.  If you have a struggle with surrender it’s because you have a low value of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Until by God’s quickening you see Him as your exceeding treasure you’ll never let go.  Never. 

You give a little baby a $100 bill wrapped in a box with pretty paper on it and a nice ribbon and then tell me what he’ll play with.  See, he has no value for that $100 bill.  He’ll play with that paper and he’ll play with that ribbon and he’ll play with that box because that’s valuable and it has color and it crinkles when you move it around.  You can wrap it around your fingers and arm.  You can drop it on the floor and pick it up very easily.  If you go and try to take that wrapping paper from the baby, you’ll make the baby cry.  Do you know why?  It’s because that has value to that little baby and the baby hasn’t seen the value of the $100 bill.  Of course, in these days that might not be a good example.  $100 bill doesn’t have too much value anymore either.

Now watch.  You take that little example and then because we’re sophisticated adults, let’s bring it up to our own level.  It’s the same thing.  With all of our savings accounts and securities and all our desires for things and material possessions, nice vacations and automobiles and education and influence, when God finally opens our eyes we’ll see that it’s wrapping paper; an old paper bag, an old box and just a ribbon.  It’s nothing.  When God begins to open our eyes to the real treasure we’ll have no trouble letting go of the wrapping paper.  We’ll have no trouble of letting go of the worthless things, the vanity of this life.  When God opened our eyes to the value of Christ He automatically opens our eyes to the vanity of the world.  The tragedy is Christians are appealed to constantly surrender to a Christ that they don’t value and you can’t surrender to a Christ you can’t value.  You can’t surrender to a stranger.  You can only surrender to a friend.  The issue is no longer surrender but it’s cultivating a relationship with God, so that you might have value, you might have a friend and surrender, then, will become as easy as pie. 

I suggest when this man found this treasure and he understood the value of the treasure, we read, “With joy he sold all that he had.”  It was a sheer delight to let go to get that treasure.  It was a jubilee.  Surrender is designed by God to be a celebration and not a bondage.  Some people say, “Oh, it’s so hard to surrender.”  It’s because they don’t see Jesus.  They don’t see the treasure.  It’s not hard to surrender when your eyes and the landscape of your heart is filled up with Christ.  Then it becomes easy. 

In this connection let me just quote Philippians 3:8, “I count all things but loss, in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”  I suggest that’s exactly what He’s teaching in this parable.

Verse 45 & 46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Some people think there is no difference between these two parables.  They are the same truth stated under two different figures of speech.  One is a treasure in a field and the other is a pearl.  They say that Christ is like a hidden treasure and He’s worth all of the earth.  Christ is also a pearl of great price and, again, He’s worth all the world; sell everything to have Him, “Forsaking all, I take Him.” 

I believe God didn’t intend it that way.  These parables are not at all teaching the same thing.  They are different; wonderfully different.  Notice verse 44 & 45, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”  You see, in 45 it’s like a treasure but in 46 he’s like a merchant.  Some people read 45 & 46 as if the kingdom of heaven were like a pearl.  It doesn’t say that.  It doesn’t say the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl of great price.  It’s not!  It’s like a merchant; a merchant whose hands are full of pearls; a rich merchant, a merchant who became poor, a rich merchant who became poor by selling all that he had to buy a pearl of great price.  Do you know anyone like that?  A person who is very rich who became poor in order to purchase a pearl of great price, who spent everything He had?  You see, this is a parable of our dear Lord Jesus.  In this parable He’s not the pearl of great price.  You are.  In this parable He’s not the pearl of great price.  I am.  The people of God are, the church is.  Christ is the rich merchant who became poor to buy us.

Notice how those two parables go hand in hand.  The first, He’s the treasure and I give everything to have Him.  In the second you’re the treasure and He gives everything to have you.  I’m the treasure and He gives everything to have me.  The chief point of this second parable is just this; the Lord Jesus is the seeking merchant and He holds back nothing in order to possess you.  In this connection I love 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet He became poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich.”  Isn’t that a verse?  “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He was rich, yet He became poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich.”  2 Corinthians 8:9.  This is one of those truths that we are tempted to read “La, la, la.  I mean a lot to Him.  I know that. I’m valuable and I’m worth something.”  If God would open our eyes to the truth of it! 

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have felt worthless.  I’m sure all of us at one time or another have had no self-value and no self-esteem.  We have the attitude that nobody really cares if I live or if I die.  My life is not worth two cents; it’s not worth a red cent.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, lay hold of this in simple faith.  You are of more value, according to this parable, than all of the gold and all the silver and all the oil and all the uranium and all the precious metals on the earth.  There is only one way to compute what you are worth.  It’s the same way you compute anything is worth.  How much would someone pay for it?  How can you value the blood of Christ and feel worthless at the same time?  That’s not possible.  You cannot appreciate the blood of Christ and fell like a nobody.  The blood is the measure of your worth.  If you have a high view of the blood you’ll know how much you are worth.  For you He laid His glory by.  For you He spilled out His blood.  He considers you His treasure.  He considers you the pearl of great price.

I know earth is not always congenial to this truth and it doesn’t matter how despised you are or are mistreated on the earth by men, you are still His diamond in the rough.  You are still His crown of glory.  You are still His treasure.  You are still His elect.  You are still His bride.  You are still His pearl of great price.  Fear not, little flock, it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  You are so valuable in His sight and I am so valuable in His sight.  The more I see by grace, by revelation how much He surrendered to own me, the easier it will be for me to surrender to own Him.  I believe that’s why as He’s coming to the end of these parables, He’s bringing these glorious kingdom truths to a great climax.

That brings us to the final parable of the kingdom of heaven; the parable of the dragnet.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the see, gathering fish of every kind.  And when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach, and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.  So it will be at the end of the age.  Angels shall come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous and will cast them into the furnace of fire.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

This is the last kingdom of heaven parable and in a sense it’s a clincher.  It wraps up the truth about God’s kingdom.  We learned from the first parable that He won’t force His grace but waits for receptive soil.  We learned from the second that He is the One that plants in our lives.  We learn from the third that the seed will grow because it’s life.  We learned from the fourth that as the grace of God spreads in our life, we’ll be transformed and changed.  We learned from the fifth parable that as He increases in value as our treasure, we surrender and we just touched on the truth that we’re very precious to Him.  It’s a kingdom of heaven truth that He paid the price of His blood, that He might possess us.

How would you clinch that?  Do you see what I’m saying?  How would you end up?  How is this parable of the dragnet a clincher?  How does it wrap it all up?  Let me tell you what this parable is not teaching, in order that you might know what it is teaching.  It’s not teaching evangelism.  That’s what I’d always heard, “This is a parable of evangelism; throw out the gospel net and bring in the sinners.”  It’s not talking about that.  This parable, as you can see, the net is not dragged in until the end of the age.  You have the idea with a dragnet that you throw it out and drag it in and throw it out and drag it in and throw it out…  You are always fishing and you are throwing out the net and dragging it in and throwing the bad fish back and throwing it out and dragging it in.  It’s not that at all.  There’s no separation now.  This is not some method of evangelism where we throw out the life line and throw out the net.  He’s not talking about that.

I believe the key to understanding this parable is understanding these two things.  #1 The net was cast into the waters one time and now it’s just sitting there.  It’s not moving and even though it’s called a dragnet, it’s not being dragged.  It’s just sitting there and the fish are swimming all around it and going in and coming out.  It just sits there.  #2 Verse 48, “And when it was filled,” it was filled with what?  All kinds of fish; good fish, bad fish?  No.  It’s a kingdom of heaven parable.  It’s optimistic and positive.  He’s not talking about bad fish at all, or else He could have pulled it in at any time.  What is He waiting for?  He throws out the net and He waits until it’s filled.  With what?  The good fish; seekers, Christians.  This is how He ends; with the patience of the Lord.  The kingdom of heaven is like the Lord throwing a net out and just waiting until all the fish from the ends of the earth are gathered in and then finally when it’s filled, and not before…  As long as there is one elect fish swimming on the outside, He’ll never pull it in.  But when it’s filled, then He pulls it in and then there’s a separation, to be sure.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is He’s waiting for the good fish to fill the net.

In one sense this is a missionary parable; not telling us how to be missionaries but showing how He does His missionary work.  Verse 47, “Fish of every king are swimming into the net, every nation, kindred, tongue and tribe.”  And even though this parable is optimistic and positive, this final one adds a great warning.  It shows the patience of the Lord waiting for the net to be filled but there has a lot to do in this parable in the day of reckoning and the day of discrimination, the day when He separates the true from the false and it will be a complete and final separation.  The point is not a judgment coming.  That’s not the point.  That’s a detail.  The point is a net waiting.  He’s patient.  But I’ll tell you, it’s a solemn warning.  Judgment is coming and the wicked will be separated from the righteous.  There will be a furnace of fire and there will be weeping.  There will be gnashing of teeth and the bad fish will be thrown out.  They will be rejected.

This is a wonderful blending, I think, of God’s part and man’s part.  All these parables are, really.  The net is cast into the water and now the fish must swim into it.  It’s a wonderful illustration of both parts.  If I were God, I would have drawn that net a long time ago.  I think if you were God you would have seen the wicked fish and drawn that net a long time ago.  But we learn from another book that the long suffering of God is salvation.  He is patient, not willing that any should perish.  I think as we wait even in this day, some bad fish are turning into good fish and swimming into the net.  He’s waiting.  He knows when that last fish will go in.

Verse 51, “’Have you understood all these things?’  And they said to Him, ‘Yes.’”  I wish they had said no.  I really do.  Then we’d have a few extra explanations.  Lillian asked me, “Did they really understand?”  I don’t know.  That’s inspired but it might be their inspired chicken hearted answer.  Anyway, they said yes.  He said, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household who brings forth out of his treasure the things new and old.”  Now, here’s a parable but notice it’s not a kingdom of heaven parable.  He’s not saying “that the kingdom of heaven is like”.  He’s saying, “The scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like..”  That’s not just words.  That’s a different direction.  He’s talking about something else.

There are scribes of the kingdom of heaven and there are scribes who have become disciples of the kingdom of heaven.  What is a scribe?  What was it in the New Testament?  It was a scholar.  It was a student.  It was one who studied and one who wrote.  A scribe who studies and has all the answers.  They know all of the words and they could give all the answers.  The scribes of the kingdom of heaven; “That’s me.  I know.”  And then there are scribes, students, who have become disciples of the kingdom of heaven.  Notice in verse 52, “The one who has become a disciple is like the head of a household who brings forth out of his treasures.”  He’s only bringing out of his treasure.  He has everything.  It’s all there.  Everything is there but he brings it out little by little.  He gets a little bit at a time; things new and things old.  Did you ever come to this book and see something brand new, “I never saw that before”?  And sometimes He takes the old truth and quickens your heart to them again and it’s like meeting an old friend.  It’s the same old truth but now it’s alive.

Here’s what He does.  First He gives the kingdom of heaven truths and then He says, “Now are you scribes or are you disciples of those truths?  Do you just know how to say them or are you entering in to those truths?  Are you taking out of the treasury things new and things old? Are you just studying the facts or are you entering in?  Old, because we’ve heard it before; new because the dew of heaven is upon it, because the Spirit of God has made it alive and because there is fire in our breast and because we’re quickened again to those same old truths and they are made alive. 

This is how He closes the parable section.  God isn’t saying, “Don’t be a scribe.  He’s saying to be a scribe that’s become a disciple.  Study and study hard but then enter in.  And out of the great wealth that God has given us of the kingdom of heaven, this great treasure, let the Spirit of God give you things new and things old and don’t always want to come and say, “I want something new.”  You don’t always need something new.  Maybe you need something old that God will make alive again to you soul.  You need things new and you need things old and you need old things made new.  You don’t always need novel things.  You need to be made alive to God.

My heart goes out to so many Christians because they are scribes of the kingdom of heaven but they aren’t scribes who have become disciples of the kingdom of heaven.  These are kingdom of heaven truths that He gave and now He says, “I want you to go into that treasury and I want to give you things new and old, little by little, until you have the whole treasure.

Father, we do thank You for the portion of scripture that we touched on this evening.  Once again, as we prayed on other occasions, we pray again, don’t work in our hearts the things that we think these verses mean but work in our lives everything that You are certain they mean because You inspired them.  How we rejoice, Lord, that you’ve given us the Lord Jesus to be our treasure.  Increase our vision of Him, we pray.  Lord, we can’t understand it but how we rejoice that He considers us His pearl of great price; His treasure and has given all for us!.  Thank You, Lord, that the net is still in the water and even tonight you are gathering from all over the earth fish into that net.  Thank You, Lord, for such grace as this!  Make us all scribes who have become disciples.  We ask in Jesus name.  Amen.

(For copy of this transcript in Word click this link… )