Proper 12 • Matthew 13:44–52 • July 24, 2011

By Robert Weise

Parables of Assurance and Hope

I would suggest that the best reference for studying the context of these three parables that “assure them [the disciples] that God is reigning and that to follow Jesus is the good and right thing to do” is found in Dr. Jeff Gibbs’ commentary on Matthew 11:2–20:34.1 This commentary will help structure your theological thinking regarding the context and purpose of these parables. Within Dr. Gibbs’s comments on these parables, he emphasizes the Christological interpretation in place of the more traditional ‘discipleship reading’ interpretation.

Suggested Sermon Outline

  1. Introduction
    The reign of God in Christ is among us. God is not at a distance, as one contemporary song states. All is not lost; he gave up his heavenly home to take on the form of a human being, Jesus Christ, true God and man to come down to his created earth and creatures to bring us back to himself by his precious body and blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins. These parables share the hope and assurance that we have in Jesus Christ who sacrificed his life so that we have life in him. And so, what we have received by his grace, we pass on to those around us, for our work is not in vain.
  2. God in Christ is the ‘parable centered’ figure
    1. Parable of the hidden treasure
      1. Sold it all (sacrificed all for the valued object)
      2. The valued object (‘disciples of Jesus’ according to Gibbs, 718)
      3. The God-man Jesus Christ gives up his life in exchange for the many
    2. Parable of the pearl of great value
      1. Sold it all (sacrifice all for the valued object)
      2. The valued object (‘disciples of Jesus’ according to Gibbs, 718)
      3. The God-man Jesus Christ gives up his life in exchange for the many
    3. Parable of the dragnet of fish
      1. Your work in Christ is not in vain. There is a mission field that needs cultivating, seed planted and seed watered.
      2. In spite of the Christian’s work of ‘planting the seed’ and watering it, his word will not return empty but accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. All of this will come to fruition on the Day of Judgment. “All will be made right at that time” (Gibbs, 722). Keep doing what you have been called to do: all is not lost in your labor; only the persons that refuse to hear the gospel remain lost.
      3. For those who are in Christ, ‘heaven is their home;’ for those who reject the saving gospel grace message, they will reap what they have sown by living for self and not for the savior from sin, Jesus Christ (49). God will have the last word; you proclaim his word.
  3. Conclusion
    Dressed and ready to share the mysteries of God’s reign as revealed in Jesus Christ. By God’s grace in Christ, we have been given the full armor of God, along with the gift of wisdom and understanding, to follow Jesus Christ and speak about the reign of God in Christ, our savior, our hope, and our comforter. These parables of God’s reign in Christ give us the assurance and hope that he is our savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

Endnote

1 Jeffrey Gibbs, Matthew 11:2–20:34, Concordia Commentary (St. Louis: CPH, 2010), 703–725.

 

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1 Comment

  1. BrotherKen July 23, 2011
    Reply

    Love the centered focus of the ‘pearl’ as Gods love in Christ for the world, and sacrificing all for it. With little work this text preaches itself with the gospel of unconditional love flowing through. I will ‘get out of the way’ and let that happen. Or, as Lee Trevino stated after being struck by lightning on the golf course, ‘If God wants to play through, let Him play through!!!’ (a possible sermon illustration, and if you want to add to that, its been said, and i paraphrase, when Trevino was hit by lightning for the second time and asked what he learned, he held up a 1 Iron and stated ‘Not even God can hit a 1 Iron!!!’

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