49. More Parables beside the Sea (continued)
44“The kingdom of heaven is likeb a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46who, on finding one pearl of great price, went forth and sold all that he had and bought it.”
47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad.”
33With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. 34He did not speak to them without a parable; but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.c
(Mt. 13:44–48; Mk. 4:33–34)
b “The kingdom of heaven is like”—The central focus of Jesus' teaching mission on earth was the kingdom of heaven. The fundamental importance and centrality of the kingdom idea is clearly shown in Jesus' parables. Many begin with words such as these: “The kingdom of heaven is like...”
This heavenly kingdom that Jesus taught is the rule of God in the heart of the individual believer. Jesus' parables help us understand various aspects of this inner spiritual kingdom. For example: The Sower describes the mixed reception of the kingdom in those who hear it proclaimed; The Parable of the Seed, The Grain of Mustard Seed, and The Parable of the Leaven picture the growth and development of the kingdom; The Treasure Hidden in a Field and The Pearl of Great Price emphasize the great value of the kingdom; and The Parable of the Weeds and The Parable of the Net refer to the inevitable judgment and separation of good and evil that characterizes the kingdom.
c “He did not speak to them without a parable; but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.”—Jesus continued to teach openly to his apostles and devoted believers, but from this time forward, when speaking to large crowds and those who opposed him, he taught mainly in parables.
Mt. 13:45 great price, went (KJV) / great value, went (RSV) (151:4/1693–4)