Ross Stackhouse - August 15, 2021

A Merchant Searching for Fine Pearls

Sketch: At face value, this parable is basically the same as the one before it. But you can’t read parables at face value. When we sit with Jesus and digest this parable, curious details might stand out. The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant? Really? The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. So, is the focus more on the merchant’s searching? Finally, he finds one of great value, sells everything he owns, and buys it. Like the week before, there’s a figure who liquidates all he owns to buy something of transcendent value. Are we to take away the same thing from last week? A-J Levine’s thoughts come to mind here. By the end, this man’s entire makeup has changed. He’s no longer even a merchant. This pearl must be something. Again, I will facilitate a table discussion with Jesus.

Scripture References: Matthew 13:45-46

From Series: "The Kingdom of Heaven is Like"

Being around Jesus is like being around this well that you draw from all day long day in and day out and you never exhaust it. He knows the way of heaven. He knows the way of life that is right for us. And he tells us parables because they require a relationship with Jesus to understand. You can’t make any good sense of one of Jesus’ riddles without spending some good time wrestling with it with the Holy Spirit’s help. Jesus doesn’t want to spoon feed us knowledge like we’re newborns. He wants to eat with us--as people who want to be fed with things, we are learning are good for us. To digest a parable well, you’ve got to sit down with Jesus and chew on it slowly. This is basically impossible in a world of fast, processed food. Digesting a parable requires Jesus’s company. It requires the Holy Spirit’s help. It requires the one thing God lives for, dies for, and lives again for: relationship. I want to invite everyone in the next four weeks to sit at the table with Jesus and with me to digest four parables. Three out of four of these involve Jesus’s saying “The kingdom of heaven is like…” Digesting these parables together—without my taking on the traditional role of explainer or answerer—will help people to: develop an appetite for sitting with Jesus all the time; develop an aptitude for chewing on Scripture, especially when it’s difficult; and develop an aspiration for the vision of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus casts. Of note in each of these parables is what Jesus does not say. The vision that Jesus casts of the kingdom of heaven is vastly different from what we’ve heard in popular Christianity. Jesus’s vision of the kingdom of heaven is different. And the way he teaches about the kingdom of heaven is different. Each matter.

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