In Matthew 13:8, we see an investment in agriculture reaping dividends of 3,000 %, 6,000%, and 10,000% profits. Then in Matthew 13:12, we see the stock options pulled from the investments that were not reaping dividends, but were suffering losses. I purchased stock through my employers with Lincoln Investment Annuities just before 9/11. It wasn't long afterwards that I began to note that my investment was a losing venture. I continually lost 25%, over a period of 2 years. I stopped the investments going in finally, and allowed the amount already invested to sit for another 2 years. It continued to lose, until i finally cashed it in and cut my further losses. Of course, this parable of the Sower is drawing a parallel to Heaven and Hell, where the investment will be finalized and totaled out as a loss or gain.
In Matthew 13:24, Jesus introduces the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, to further explain this process of the End of the Age/ Heaven and Hell cash out of investments. Once again we have an agricultural parallel to a Spiritual investment. Jesus sows good seeds. Satan sows tares to choke the wheat. In Matthew 13:26, we see that the presence of the tares was not immediately obvious. But, the servants had a keen eye for trending on the stock market, and noticed Jesus' investment losing on the short haul. Jesus, being the ultimate entrepreneur, was into long-range investments. He was not about to cash in His investment portfolio on a short-range market slump. No, He held onto His stock
options, knowing there would come a day when He would reap great dividends. He held onto the good and bad stock, allowing the little nest eggs to grow. But, this parable ended with a harvest and a bonfire in Matthew 13:30. In Matthew 13:39-40, Jesus explains to His disciples that the bonfire is Hell, and the harvest is Heaven; another stock cash-out.
In Matthew 13:31-33, Jesus explains the reasoning behind his hold and wait approach to the New World Stock Exchange, with two more parables. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a Mustard Seed, which grows and grows, until it is a huge branching tree that many can nest inside of the branches. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a starter lump of leaven that a woman rolled out in three measures of cornmeal. From that tiny starter, she cooked enough bread to feed many people. That was a lot of bread! This parable was an expansion on the agricultural applications Jesus had been making to this point. He was pointing out that when He plants a seed, it will grow, and it will multiply, spreading out and affecting everything it comes in contact with. His word will reap great dividends for Heaven, if it is allowed to spread.
Then Jesus explains how his disciples should respond to this inside tip. He gives them the parable of the Field of Treasure first. In this parable, a man sells everything he owns to invest in some future hope of gain. It was a risky investment, because how did he know the owner wouldn’t carry away the treasure before the purchase was closed? He was giving up what he had, for what he might gain. I bought a nice Mountain Bike, the weekend before I first started riding in group rides. I knew I needed a better bike than the $30 Wal-Mart bike I had been using. But, when I got into the bike rides around the state, I quickly realized that I needed a racing road bike to keep up. That was not an option at that time, after buying a mountain bike. But, a friend I met on some of the rides gave me a road bike that was a collector’s item. It had some value in it, but was no longer suitable for riding since it wouldn’t go fast enough. I eventually sold it, my old Wal-Mart bike, and my beautiful Mountain Bike with front wheel suspension. Together, and with more money, I was able to buy a nice road bike. But, I had to give up the other three bikes which I would have loved to held on to. I considered the Road bike to be worth more than all those. I did what I had to do, and I was excited to find I was able to ride at the front of the pack in the following rides. It was a worthwhile investment for me.
The second parable Jesus used to explain how we should react to His inside tip on the New World Stock Exchange was the parable of the Pearl of Great Price. This parable left off from the agricultural market, and ventured into the precious metals market. The Merchant was a collector, a man who valued pearls. He knew a good thing when he saw it. So, he sold all that he had, and went back and bought this pearl, because he expected to gain something of much greater value than what he already had, some future return on his investment. These two parables together show that though we may walk away from many potential uses of our capital while it is invested in the future coming Kingdom of Heaven, Heaven will be worth it all.
Then Jesus leaves off on both the precious metals market and the reason for our investment, and returns to His Heaven and Hell comparison of His own investments in us. He gives the parable of the dragnet. In this parable, fishermen are seen taking in fish with nets, large scale investments, without regard to size or kind of fish. When men fish with poles and bait, they are fishing for a particular kind of fish, and use particular bait. But, the dragnet was not choosy. It took in all it could reach. But, then the fishermen sat down and separated the good fish from the fish not worth keeping, and some were thrown back into the water. In Matthew 13:49-50, Jesus explains how this compares to Heaven and Hell.
I have never been a farmer. And, I’m not into precious metals, or fishing. I do know how to cook since I have been a Householder for 26 years. So, the last parable in Matthew 13:52 about the Householder really sinks in for me. I didn’t just set up house yesterday. I have maintained a household for the better part of three decades. Over the years I have acquired a lot of “stuff.” Some of it is old. Some of it is new. But, most of it is of value to me. Though I bought some of it new in more recent years, some of it, like my nightstands, are “Late Yard Sale/ Early Flea Market” antiques. I wouldn’t dare get rid of the old things because I need them. They have their purpose. Since I bought the bed years ago, when I didn’t have the money for a dresser, etc., and I don’t have a new bedroom suit in my pocketbook right now, I carried these two pieces with me when we moved, right along with my nicer furniture. I need them. I value them. Jesus used the parable of the householder to sum up his teaching in this chapter to explain to the disciples that they need to take the old lessons and the new lessons when studying the Bible. We can not allow ourselves to throw out the old lessons we learned, in exchange for the new teaching. Likewise, we can’t sit idly on our old lessons, and think we have it all. A wise student of the Word takes the old treasures and the new. A wise student looks openly at what he is taught by others, as well as at what he is reading himself in the Word. He prayerfully builds his treasure of the Word from the best of the old and the new.
This chapter of Matthew is fascinating. I enjoyed the lesson, and couldn’t walk away from it when I got home. Sometimes I find my mind wandering, darting around the Bible during a Bible Study. But, for some reason in this chapter, I found myself riding around on this same track, until I had re-read it about ten times, like running laps at the park. There is so much in this one chapter, like in Luke 13, that ultimately layers into a vignette of Heaven and Hell. It is a veritable treatise on the Kingdom of Heaven and our investments there, as well as Jesus’ investment in us. I’m glad I made it to church both services today. I feel well fed in the Word.