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Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.
Matthew 13:52 (NKJV)
Matthew 13 introduces us for the first time to the Greek word parabole. In Matthew 13, Jesus for the first time speaks in parables to his audience. Why not speak in plain language to them? It was an invitation to them to find out more—to go on a journey of discovery—to go deeper in search of meaning. His disciples got the cue card and did exactly that. They pulled him to the side and asked what the parables meant. The parables prompted the enquiry.
The point of this post is not to unearth what the parables mean but rather to point out how teaching in the New Covenant should look like.
First, the parables that Jesus taught were about him.
- In the parable of the sower—Jesus is the sower and Jesus is the seed– word of the kingdom—the gospel—grace. Jesus is the good ground that produces a hundred, sixty and thirty-fold fruit.
- In the parable of the wheat and weeds, Jesus sows the good seed.
- In the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus is the mustard seed, though the least of all the seeds grows and becomes a tree so that birds of the air come and nest in his branches. Grace starts small.
- In the parable of the leaven, Jesus is the leaven hid in three measures of meal. Grace works from the inside out.
- In the parable of the hidden treasure, Jesus is the man who finds a hidden treasure in a field, he then sells all that he has and buys that field.
- In the parable of the merchant seeing beautiful pearls, Jesus is that merchant who found a pearl of great price sold all he had and bought it.
- In the parable of the dragnet, Jesus at the end of the age will separate the wicked from the just. The just? Just by faith and not by good works—not good people but people who relinquished their goodness and accepted Christ’s imputed righteousness on them.
Second, the ministry of the New Covenant is to bring out treasure, new and old.
Jesus, the master teacher shows us how New Covenant teachers should teach. New Covenant teaching is revealing the new in the old and the old in the new. A common adage goes like this— the new is in the old concealed and the old in the new revealed.
If the Bible is about Jesus, which it is, then it reasons that our work as gospel preachers, teachers, commentators, theologians, scholars, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders and bloggers is to do just that—reveal Jesus—unveil Jesus.
Andy Stanley has taken flak for his series of messages on unhitching the Old Testament from the New. He makes valid points if you listen to him carefully. I suppose it is the use of the term “unhitching” that gets him into theological hot water. You can listen to his series here. I would prefer if Andy would have revealed to us how the Old Testament is a treasure trove of puzzle pieces when put together reveal the whole story of grace. We need the Old Testament to reveal Jesus and connect to the New Testament.
Because we are designed for stories, the Old Testament gives us fodder to keep our listeners engaged in the story of grace. The stories in the Old Testament nudge us towards the greater story—Jesus’ story. This is why we need the Old Testament. Unhitching it from the New Testament, in the literal sense, will make us lose a vital ingredient to the sumptuous dish that is grace. Human beings are designed for stories. A wise teacher will read the stories in the Old Testament and unveil Jesus—bring out the treasures new and old.
Personally, it is awe-inspiring and beautiful to listen to Bible teachers who unveil Jesus in the Old Testament. My appreciation of who Jesus is and what he did grows. My life is changed. I get bored and distracted when I listen to inspirational, motivational, psychology, philosophical, practical and even end-times preaching and teaching. Listening to anything else is like eating candy or marshmallows. They might taste sweet but not satisfying or even nourishing.
It warms my heart and my imagination soars as I listen to teaching and preaching that unveils Jesus. It’s like dining at a Michelin 3-star restaurant where Jenny, I, and our friends are served an 8-course gourmet meal. There is joy and laughter and we converse without a care in the world. The restaurant manager, bless her soul, has to come and inform us that the restaurant is closing for the evening. That’s how it feels listening to teaching that brings out old and new. You are drawn into a world that has no sense of time—a world of awe and wonder and yet able to live in the real world. Wow!
Could The Life Place be a place where treasures new and old are brought out? Could we be a place that serves the 8-course gourmet meal instead of burgers with chips and a soft drink? Will it be a place where people befriend each other, laugh, and chat about who Jesus is and what he has done? I sure hope so.
That’s what grace looks like