Interrogation 30-07-2023

Monday, 3 July 2023

12:27 PM


Gospel reading for this Sunday

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52



What the Kingdom of heaven is like: (A mustard seed; Some yeast; A treasure; A pearl; A net; A householder)


NRSV version

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

31 He put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’


The Parable of the Yeast

33 He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’




Three Parables

44 ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Treasures New and Old

51 ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ 52And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’


Gospel for Hearers version

31 He told them another parable,

"The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard

which a man sowed in his field.

It is smaller than all seeds but, when it grows,

it is bigger than all the vegetables

and even becomes a tree

so that the birds of the air can take shelter in its branches."


33 Another parable he told them was:

"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast

which a woman took and worked into three measures1 of flour

until the whole lot was leavened."




44 The kingdom of heaven is like this:

When a man found a treasure hidden in a field,

he reburies it and off he goes with joy,

sells everything he possesses and buys that field.


45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant

looking for fine pearls;

finding one most expensive pearl,

he goes and realizes all his assets to buy it.


47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet thrown into the sea

which catches up all kinds of creatures;

when it is full they haul it up onto the shore,

and, sitting down, they sort out the good fish into a pot

and throw away the useless ones.

So will it be at the end of the age:

the angels will go out

and separate out the wicked from among the righteous

and throw them into the fiery furnace;

there will be weeping and grinding teeth.


51 Do you understand all these things?"

They said, "Yes."

And he said to them,

"This is why any scribe who has become a disciple

of the kingdom of heaven

is like a householder

who takes out of his store-room treasures new and old."


From The Gospel for Hearers (Translated from the Koine Greek by Elizabeth B. Edwards,

Formatted by the Rev William A. Johnston), 2013, Diangellia Press.


Robot comment

What are the serious issues raised by Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52?

(An AI robot's response: Note that the robot here provides opinion, not fact and should not be taken as authoratative)


Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 contains several parables that Jesus told to his disciples. The parables of the mustard seed and the leaven both draw attention to remarkable growth arising from insignificant beginnings. Similarly, the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl both point to discovering something of such great value that we are willing to sell all we have to possess it.


Some questions raised by the text:

  • Who is Jesus talking to?
  • Who was the evangelist talking to?
  • Jesus is telling his audience what "the Kingdom of Heaven" is like. He has to tell them in a series of simple metaphors because it is obvious but they cannot see it. So what is "The Kingdom" like?
    • A tiny seed. From little things, big things grow. Don't worry about small starts -- it is the big ending that counts.
    • Yeast in the bread. Just a little bit in flour. Again -- a small start leading to a big ending. (Note: Jesus is not saying that leavened bread is better. There are times when the Jews preferred unleavened bread - like at Passover).
    • Buried treasure. Strange behaviour to bury it again. But the treasure-hunter seems to want to make sure that his ownership of the treasure is understood to be legitimate. Maybe this is about investment.
    • A pearl. A thing of beaty; if you can find it. When you recognise the beauty and its value it makes sense to sacrifice what you have in order to possess it. (However, you might like to reflect on the fact that we can't all afford to buy pearls. You might want to reflect on the notion that the pearls of the faith are accessible to all).
    • A dragnet used in fishing. You throw it into the water and drag it along so that the fish are pulled into it. The trouble with this sort of fishing is that you get a lot of stuff you don't want (this sort of fishing is going out of favour these days). The catch has to be sorted, and only the good stuff kept. There is a parable about life here. The good and the bad are always mixed up together. "The Kingdom": is not some fairytale place where the Good Prince (or Princess) rules wisely, and where evil is banished.
    • A householder (master of the house) values all the stuff he has collected over time, and he is happy to display it all. Everything is treasured.
  • Note that Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven "is", not "will be'. For Jesus the Kingdom is already here. So, the big question for Jesus' audience (and us) is how do we live as citizens of this Kingdom now?
  • Note that Jesus also uses examples that would have made sense to his audience. Maybe some of these examples are a bit dated for us, and maybe we would like to hear of examples from our own time. What would these be? Can you provide some examples for your own audience?


Popular posts

Matthew 10:40-42, Whoever welcomes you welcomes me.... for July 2, 2023