Confused, disappointed, alarmed, second-guessing, and maybe overwhelmed.
I think that’s how the followers and disciples of Jesus must have felt as they listened to his parables in Matthew 13. The recurring phrase in the Psalms, “Your waves have overwhelmed me,” comes to mind. In four back-to-back parables, Jesus has relentlessly challenged and disrupted their expectations as to what it will mean, look like, and entail to follow him in this world. As we have seen in the those first four parables, the Kingdom of God was going to be a minority experience – messy, imperfect, rejected, and struggling. If John the Baptist, the one God anointed to announce and baptize the Messiah, was now doubting that Jesus was “The One,” it’s not a stretch to figure the disciples were probably wondering, “What have I gotten myself into?” I wonder if Matthew 13 was another moment like John 6 where, “After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”
Grappling with the true state of Christianity in the USA hasn’t just helped explain, in the midst of media misinformation, “how we got here,” it has also opened my eyes to see the timely relevance and truth of Jesus’ parables in Matthew 13. I believe we are in a season of being disrupted by God and reality to reconsider what it means to be Christ followers in our world – how hard it will be, how few of us there are, and what it is going to cost us.
After four disruptive (and probably demoralizing) parable in a row, Jesus tells two short parables with a simple and clear message: “The Investment is Worth the Risk.” Yes, it’s true: These two parables still disruptively re-orientate us to the smallness of the Kingdom of God. But they do include a significant promise and invitation: “The Investment is Worth the Risk.”
As we celebrate the 4th of July and our freedom and liberty this weekend, take some time to read and reflect on these two short parables in Matthew 13:44-46. Then go back and review the four parables and interactions that have lead up to them. As you do this, consider the following:
- What is Jesus’ promise – and do I truly believe it?
- What is Jesus asking of me? Have I done this and am I doing it?
Yours in Christ’s love,