URC Daily Devotion Saturday 18 February 2023 The Rev’d Nicola Furley-Smith,
Saturday 18 February 2023 St Matthew 13: 44 – 53
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place.
What sparks joy for you? These three short parables remind us about the joy of discipleship: hidden treasure has been found and, because it brings great joy, the finder risks it all to obtain more. In exchange for the possibility of finding more treasure, and more joy, he sells it all! As such, the kingdom of heaven is not simply joy; it is a joy that is worth all that you have. Like the finder, the merchant searching for a pearl liquidates all his assets to purchase it. His discovery is not unexpected. It is the result of persistent searching. As such, the kingdom of heaven is something to be sought. It is not easily obtained or readily available.
The experience of discovery differs for both the finder and the merchant, two people from very different backgrounds but both throw caution to the wind to obtain the goal. Living under the reign of God entails discoveries like these which will reshape our kingdom priorities.
The parable of the dragnet sets a contrast for us. The dragnet collects all sorts of fish, edible and nonedible, the good collected, the bad discarded. The kingdom of heaven adds to our understanding of discipleship: the kingdom of heaven is diverse and inclusive. Just as fish exist together in the sea, we must live together and leave the final judgement to God.
Jesus highlights one more aspect of the kingdom: the role of the scribe who is disciplined in learning and committed to the preparation of others for life under God’s rule both the old story of God’s promise to establish a reign of peace and justice in the world and the new contemporary application of it today demonstrated through our discipleship. Understanding this is critical and should remind us that discipleship is not a game. It is a matter of life and death.
Let me, O God risk all that I have and all that I am for you that through my words and actions a glimpse of your kingdom may be seen. Amen.
The Rev’d Nicola Furley-Smith, Secretary for Ministries, Purley United Reformed Church