While I enjoy all three weeks of Parable Season, my distrust of all things allegory makes week three the shining star. Clearly the disciples, and Matthew’s readers, have failed to fully grasp Jesus’ drawn out metaphorical parables. They, and we, have been further confused by his attempts to explain them. And so this week, Jesus tries a different tack, straight up simile. The Kingdom of Heaven is like…
- A Mustard Seed
- A Treasure Hidden in a Field
- A Merchant in Search of a Fine Pearl
- A Net Thrown into the Sea
These are five very different ways of explaining the kingdom. None of them is able to carry the full weight of explaining the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, combined, they still don’t even begin to do the job justice. Still, there is plenty to learn from these five short similes about the Kingdom.
- The Mustard Seed – the Kingdom of Heaven may look unassuming at the start, but when it takes root, it changes the very landscape of your heart. From shrub to tree to a home for the birds of the air (those pesky things that stole the seed back in the Parable of the Sower), the Kingdom changes everything.
- Yeast – the Kingdom of Heaven is subversive: working through an inordinate amount of flour, even this little bit of yeast can change the world.
- A Treasure – this is a tough one. It seems as though Jesus is telling the disciples to be unscrupulous. It is awfully unethical to find a treasure, not tell the land owner, and buy it at market value, but Jesus did once tell his disciples to be shrewd like the children of this age and to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
- A Merchant – the Kingdom of Heaven is of great value, in fact, it will cost you everything, even your very life. This is the parabolic version of “take up your cross and follow me.”
- A Net – though God desires the restoration of all of creation, there will come a day when everyone will have to make a choice: do I want to live in God’s love or not? I believe there is a hell, though I hope it will be empty at the second coming when everyone, experiencing the overwhelming love of God, chooses to live in the Kingdom of Heaven that is so unspeakably awesome (I use that overused word very intentionally), that even Jesus can’t explain it fully in human terms.