Instead of preaching only one or two of these parables, I decided to see them as a collection intended to be understood together. So, I found myself dividing the parables into two groups.
1. Escatological Parables
2. "Seize the Moment" Parables
Under the first, we have the parable of soils, weeds, the mustard seed, yeast, and the fish in the net. I classify these as escatological parables because they focus on the culmination of the Kingdom of God. From taking these together, I derived three principles to share with my audience:
- God is actively involved. We don't have to struggle to get God's attention. We don't have to do something unusual to get Him to notice us. He is already involved, working, watching, speaking.
- Satan is also actively involved (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8). We ignore this fact to our peril. If the parables show us that God is working in the world to advance His Kingdom, so they show us an enemy who actively works to hinder it.
- The end will come. This world is not a never-ending merry-go-round. It will end. Reward and punishment are certain.
I saw the parables of the pearl and treasure are of a different sort. These parables don't focus on the culmination of the Kingdom, but rather what we are to do now as the Kingdom is proceeding. And we are to essentially seize it -- to lay hold of it while we still can. A few straightforward principles flow out of these two parables:
- We must surrender all unworthy affections. All lesser pearls but give way to the one of surpassing value. We must be willing to give away all other things to lay hold of the Kingdom.
- We must surrender all fears. I have found that many of those who are not following Christ are hindered by fear. They fear the criticism and opposition that they will face if they follow Jesus openly. I can think of people that I know well who are in this situation. But risk is needed to lay hold of the pearl. Selling everything you own is risky and invites severe criticism, even opposition. And what if it all goes wrong. Surely this is an important point to teach.
- We must put our trust in God's Son. This, of course, is what is meant by seizing the Kingdom.
Blessings to you this day!