Through a glorious string of kingdom parables and explanations, CLB Biennial Convention 2018 attendees found life and were reminded of our place in the kingdom of God. The last parable in this string is found in Matthew 13:51-52.
“‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied. He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’”
What does Jesus, in conclusion, want his disciples to understand? He says something very interesting: “…every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
Everyone who has ears to hear, eyes to see, hearts to perceive these parables of the kingdom… everyone who sees and receives the unveiled mystery of the gospel, of Jesus’ coming kingdom… we are changed!
Friends, this is an incredible description of transition! It’s the “right-hand turn” of identity, function, and mission. Jesus’ statement at the end of this glorious treasure-house of kingdom parables in Matthew 13 can, should, and does describe us!
“…every teacher of the law…” These teachers were the scribes (Greek, grammateus) who knew the Word of God, at least the Old Testament promise. They were keepers of the words, of the grammar. Sure, there was some spiritual deadness in these highly regarded experts. Some were lifeless rule-keepers, proud in their knowledge, arrogant in their word-keeping. They were spiritual grammar fanatics.
But some of them kept this Word. They knew it pointed to One coming, to something living. When the mysteries of these parables were unlocked, they revealed Jesus, the gospel, and his kingdom. It had this transformative effect on the scribe!
“…every scribe who becomes a disciple in the kingdom of heaven…” It’s a passive verb form of the noun for disciple. Not the one who achieves discipleship, but the one who is made a disciple. This is the “kingdoming” explosive potential—when a scribe becomes a disciple, a student, a follower, a practicing apprentice of Jesus in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus says something awesome happens when the scribe becomes the disciple. This new disciple becomes a repository of treasure—to be shared with others!
Church of the Lutheran Brethren: May I say, “We were born for this!”
We are scribes become disciples in the kingdom of heaven! We must never be less than that. We must never be mere followers who are not founded on the Word, that is, mere activists or obedient moralists. And we must never be like those scribes who were content to be correct and arrogant, while silent and uncompassionate in mission and witness.
We are confessional and missionary people. Our Confession of Faith must be confessed, both to my neighbor near and an ocean away! We are people wholly restful in grace, and wholly restless in mission!
Church of the Lutheran Brethren: We were born for this. Scribes become disciples in the kingdom of heaven. A people under the Word! A missionary people!
In this Biennial Convention, our eyes were opened to a vision for mission that is ours together: Lutheran Brethren Seminary? North American Mission? Lutheran Brethren International Mission? Through this symbiotic union of mission together we do one thing: we make disciples.
At a fork in the Interstate 94 freeway just west of Saint Cloud, Minnesota, there’s a curious stretch of land between the eastbound and westbound lanes. It’s completely inaccessible by car or on foot. I’ve driven by this property many times, viewing it with the eyes of a nature lover, adventurer, agriculturist, and hunter. I’d look over and ponder, “What’s over there? What kind of trees make up the woods? What wildlife and winged creatures dwell in there? Are there water ponds or springs? Are there hills? Maybe wild berries?”
It’s just intriguing to me: on the one hand it’s pristine, reserved, untapped land. There’s a beauty in that! And on the other hand—for all the possible nature-lover enjoyment, food-producing, bird-watching, camping, hiking, exploring possibilities—it’s a mysterious avoidance of potential!
On one particular day—it was my birthday, September 30, 2014—driving west toward Fergus Falls to began my first term as CLB President, I looked over at that pristine, reserved, untapped 80 acres of land, and thought, “It reminds me of… us (the CLB)!” And now, on every trip past this beautiful plot of earth that lacks entrance and exit ramps, I think of us.
This wonderful gift of God’s creation, who knows what is on it? It’s like Tom Sawyer’s island, Cortez’ City of Gold, the Fountain of Youth! Who knows! But we don’t know, and won’t know, because it is the “Rampless Median.” And it reminds me of us…
“…every scribe who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Scribes who become disciples have come into possession of a treasure, and it is not our treasure to hoard.
In effect, when we truly hear, see, and believe these parables of the kingdom, these mysteries of Jesus, it’s as if we become “parables of the kingdom” ourselves. In us and through us, the treasure of Jesus—his gospel, his kingdom—is unlocked and unveiled to be brought out and shared with others!
We become living parables, kingdom translators! In terms of the parables of Matthew 13, we are the fruit of the scattered seed, we are the chosen kernels of wheat among the weeds, the keeper of fish in a net drawn up from humanity on the Last Day! We are the treasure, the pearl pointing to its seeker/sacrificer/owner, the birds who nest and rest in the shade of this great gospel tree!
Oh, CLB, we are a missionary people! We have this precious gift to share. We must not “hole up” in safe isolation. Let us make entrance ramps for people to come find what we have, and exit ramps to take what we have to others!
Rev. Paul Larson is President of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.