“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.”
~Matthew 13:52 (NRSV).
In this concluding verse, Jesus is commending the disciples to discern and treasure the things of the Kingdom in both the old tradition and the new—those coming through Jesus himself. Like the master of the household they choose with authority and responsibility, for their choices will have lasting impact.
Beyond the Word of God, which Jesus was almost certainly referring, this involves the skill of the Spiritual eye, and a dependence on God to guide.
Open Minded Discernment
True discernment (and the Parables of the Kingdom in Matthew 13 are all about discernment) is about being sufficiently open minded; which requires also an open heart that’s teachable.
The art to be practiced is that of deliberately withholding judgment and decision-making for the right time and circumstances, and being able to select for, or discern, the movement of God’s will in the flow of time. This is only done with any successful effect by the praying person—the one who sets themselves on knowing God’s nature and the will of the Almighty for the special circumstances that remit for ‘now’.
Seeming paradoxical, perhaps, the aspect of open-mindedness must work with the pickiness that is discernment, to sort the wheat from the chaff. That blend is wisdom, right there.
The Value of the Old – The Power of the New
Like anything, old things that endure centuries have worth beyond measure. Then once the new comes we’re tempted to throw the old out as gone by its use-by date.
Jesus is telling the disciples that there’s still so much of the Kingdom in the old—in fact, the Kingdom’s basis is on retaining the valuable in the Old (Old Testament Torah principles, history, wisdom and prophetic) and simply adding to it the New that he brings—the power of the New Covenant of redemption and God’s grace, salvation for the Gentiles etc.
The Old Covenant—whilst it’s immeasurably superseded—still has foundational worth in the context of the Kingdom, so far as teaching’s concerned. We do not throw out the Ten Commandments, for they reveal the foundational truth in the Beatitudes, for instance. What Jesus has taught was based from the Old—Covenant and Testament. He came not to abolish these but to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17).
For us then, in all of life we’re to retain the valuable as we search forward for the coming vestibules of truth, selecting things with an eye for discerning the Kingdom value in everyday life. In day-to-day life, it pays handsomely to order homage for those things that have lasted—they will even outlast us!
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.