“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
(Matthew 13:51-52 ESV)
After giving His disciples seven different explanations of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus asks them today if they understood all the things He had told them. The Greek word for “understood” here is συνιεμι (pronounced: soon-ee’-ay-mee) which means “to put together; to make sense of”. Jesus asked them if they comprehended the truth that these parables taught.
The seven parables had taught that God’s kingdom will have both good and evil coexisting side-by-side for a while. They taught that God’s kingdom would grow in power and influence. They taught that entering God’s kingdom only happened by self-sacrifice and the forsaking of all other means. They taught that some day judgment would come and then everyone would be sent into eternity – some to reside with God forever in heaven; others to be separated from Him in hell [Matthew 13:1-50]
The disciples claim that they did understand, but as we’ll see their understanding was not complete. But Jesus accepts their answer. These young men did not understand everything. But they understood enough so that Jesus could move forward in preparing them for the mission He had called them to.
These men were being groomed by Jesus to be scribes. A scribe was someone who kept notes. But since scribes were very literate they were also often teachers. The twelve men Jesus would leave behind on earth would be responsible for teaching the entire world the old truths that had previously been revealed through the law and the prophets (i.e. the Old Testament). But they would also be responsible for teaching these new truths of the kingdom that Jesus had just taught them.
A master of a house would be in charge of supplies that would be kept in storage. When they were needed he brings them out or distributes them as necessary. The wise master would reuse old things and would only buy new things when needed. Similarly, these twelve disciples would be called upon to deliver truth to the world, as appropriate. They needed to eventually understand everything, old and new, and use the appropriate facts at the appropriate time. Currently, the knew very little. But after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, they learned a lot and they taught others with bold confidence. The book of Acts documents their successes.
This is an important lesson for us today. We don’t have to know everything to teach someone something about God. Too many Christians shy away from talking to others about Jesus because they think they don’t understand everything. That is true. They don’t understand everything. But just like the disciples, they understand enough to get started.
This passage also teaches us that we need to continue to learn. We don’t need to fill our minds with trivia. We need to fill our minds with God’s truth – all of it – so that we can explain it to others for one simple purpose: so they can believe and escape eternity in hell.
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