“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And 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.”
And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Jesus did not give these three parables to the crowd. He gave them only to his disciples. The first two are about those who receive the Gospel. The third is about both those who receive, and those who preach it.
The first two of these parables tell us about the value of the kingdom. It is more valuable than anything else. The Kingdom of Heaven is worth denying ourselves every other pleasure. Nothing should inhibit our pursuit of obtaining such a great value.
We need to remind ourselves of this on a continuing basis. The allurements of the world captivate us. As a result, eternal life fades from our view. We only desire what we can see, hear, and touch. We do not treasure spiritual graces from God. We do not recognize their great value.
Is it necessary that we abandon every other possession to enjoy eternal life? That is not what Christ is teaching in these parables. Rather we are to prefer the Gospel over everything else. If we are unwilling to give all for the Gospel, we do not understand its value.
In both examples, the men bought that which was of great value. One bought a field. The other bought a pearl. Jesus did mean we may buy the Kingdom of Heaven. We may not buy it at any price. It is not purchased through asceticism. It is not purchased with piety or good works. That is not the point of these parables. The parables are to expound on the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven. That its value is more than all we have.
But praise God it is a gift. We cannot buy it. (Acts 8:20, Romans 5:15; 6:23, Ephesians 2:8; 3:7) He gives it to us, without charge. We should recognize its value.
In the third parable, Christ compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a great catch of fish. He does not teach anything new here. Instead, Jesus re-enforces what He has already taught. The Church, in this world, contains both evil and righteous men.
In this parable, ministers are the fishermen. They let down their net and it catches all sorts of men as nets do. Once the net is full they draw it to shore. There is a set time when the gospel fulfills its purpose. It will not return void. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
When the net is full and drawn to the shore a separation begins, good from the bad. The angels will separate hypocrites from true Christians. They will separate the good as valuable and they throw away the evil. They are vile and of no value. While the net is in the sea, we do not know what is in it. The fishermen themselves cannot tell. Nonetheless, they are careful when they draw it. Such is God’s care for the visible church. Ministers should concern themselves for those under their charge. Even though they are aware of the mixture.
When Jesus completed His teaching, he asked, “Are there any questions?” The disciples said they understood. Remember Christ taught these parables in private. Jesus wanted to ensure they have learned the lessons.
He says that teachers are like heads of the house. The Head of the house insures there is enough food not only for them and their household but others as well. The lesson is the teachers of the Church should prepare by study so they can give out of a full storehouse. They should have a variety of instructions about God’s word.
Many commentators understand “things new and old” as the Law and the Gospel. But this appears forced. Rather it means a teacher is to always study and learn. He is to add to his knowledge. This is so he can share the old things he has already learned and new things that God’s word has revealed.
Matthew tells us when Jesus finished he went to his hometown. Mark tells us there was some intervening time. What Matthew is indicating is after having taught for some time in Judea, he returned to Galilee. But when he arrived home, His reception was rather cool. Luke gives (Luke 4:22) is similar, but not the same account.
The reaction of people in his hometown is like people everywhere. Jealousy filled them. “Who does this guy think he is? I grew up with him. He thinks he is better than the rest of us.” As a matter of fact, Jesus did think he was better than the rest of them. He was better than the rest of them. He was God incarnate.
They referred to Jesus as “the carpenter’s son.” This was derogatory. It indicates that they knew Jesus as a common laborer like themselves. The reference to his mother Mary was also derogatory. A man was not regarded as his mother’s son unless they intended an insult.
Jesus had worked in the town as a carpenter until He was 30. So He was well known. To now hear Him as a Prophet stuck in their craw. “Where then did this man get all these things?” Why Him and not us? They were jealous.
Christ’s response was, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.”
This is a general proverb. It states men are grateful in inverse proportion to the familiarity of the prophet. Familiarity breeds contempt. Nowhere did Christ receive less honor than on His home turf. Instead of being the first to accept the grace offered to them, they drive him away. It is amazing that a prophet of God, whom others receive, they despised.
Matthew concludes this passage by telling us Jesus did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Mark is more emphatic. (Mark 6:5-6) Mark said He “could not.” This does not imply we control God’s power. God is sovereign. God is omnipotent. God can and does as He wills.
Both Mark and Matthew agree. Christ’s countrymen closed the door to the performance of many miracles among them. Throughout scripture, miracles have a specific purpose. They were to confirm the message and/or the messenger. The people Jesus grew up with were so filled with jealousy miracles would have no effect. They had already tasted His power. But they stupified themselves.
Augustine compared faith to the open mouth of a vessel. He compared faith as resembling a stopper. It either opened or closed the vessel into which God pours His grace and mercy.