“Have you understood all these things?”
Matthew 13:47-58 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.” 52 And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. 54 He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 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.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
The reading in Proverbs today, Proverbs 4:7 says: “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” Whether human wisdom or Godly wisdom, it does not serve us well if we only acquire knowledge without understanding. We can learn and memorize the dates of historical events, but if we don’t understand the event itself, it cause and its consequences, if we don’t understand why and what happened it does us little good in avoiding making the same mistakes. We can learn mathematical equations but is we do not understand them they do us little good. As much as this applies to human knowledge and history, it is even more true of Godly wisdom and the events and teachings recorded in scripture.
In today’s text Jesus has been speaking parables about the kingdom of heaven, about righteousness and unrighteousness and about what will happen at the end of the age. He says: “Have you understood all these things?” It is important that we go beyond knowing what Jesus said. In order for His words, for God’s word to change us we must not only know it, we must understand it. There are many great writers and teachers who can help us to understand scripture, to teach us the meaning of what Jesus says. Still even the best of human teachers see and teach from the perspective of their own experience and understanding. So in addition to what they say, we also should listen to what Jesus Himself says. In John 14:26 and John 16:13, Jesus tells us how we can hear what He says: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” - “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” In today’s text Jesus says: Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Whether we read Old Testament or New Testament teachings and accounts, the word of God is meant to reveal the will and the plan of God for people. It reflects and reveals God’s love, His compassion, His mercy and grace. It also reveals His righteousness and justice.
Today’s text continues: “When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all 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 miracles there because of their unbelief. Jesus had been doing great works and miracles everywhere He went. His words and His works together revealed the truth about the kingdom of heaven. Yet when Jesus came to His home town it says: He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. The people in Jesus home town knew Him as a man. Their perspective and understanding was based on their own experience. Because of their limited human knowledge, they could neither fully understand nor fully receive the spiritual kingdom realities Jesus offered.
In John 4:23-24 Jesus says: “An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Worship in spirit and in truth is more than singing some songs. It’s more than times of meditation and devotion to God. In truth our entire lives, all that we do is to be done as to the Lord. Colossians 3:23-24 says: Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Our entire lives then, everything we do should be done not through our own human understanding and power, but through the Spirit. In John 14:12-14 Jesus says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” If we try to do the works that Jesus did in our own strength, with our limited human understanding, like in Jesus home town, there will not be much of the kingdom revealed. Jesus says: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us and gives us understanding. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can know and worship God. It is by yielding to the Holy Spirit that we are to live our lives and it is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to do the works Jesus did, to be His witnesses in words and in wonders.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit. I yield to You, teach me, guide me, give me understanding and fill me with Your power. Amen.