Something Old, Something New
Matt. 13:52 And he said to them, “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.”
The kingdom of heaven was an entirely new concept for those listening in to the teaching of Jesus Christ. He shared parable after parable with those who were following him, just to hear more of his teaching. Of course there were those who had been trained in the Law and the Prophets who were there and listening in. Often Jesus’ parables spoke directly to them and this little sentence had a direct implication to them. The scribes had been trained in what we would understand as the Old Testament law. They knew the Torah and they knew the words very well. They had been living by these declarations now for centuries — they were God’s people.
Jesus was saying that there were scribes who were understanding what Jesus was saying about the kingdom of heaven. God’s kingdom was to be something completely different than what the people were expecting. They wanted a political leader. They wanted to overthrow the government. They wanted an earthly king for the Jews!
Jesus was preaching the kingdom of heaven. The paradigm was something radically different from anything they understood and yet, Jesus was saying that if they would take what they had learned in the past and connect it with Jesus’ preaching they would be able to connect the dots. The scribes could take their Torah learning, the words of the prophets, and recognize that Jesus was the Messiah and that he was ushering in the new kingdom. That is why a scribe trained for the kingdom of heaven was one who could bring out the old treasures and the new, for it took both to realize the beauty of the kingdom being ushered in before their very eyes.
We are to be trained to see and participate in the kingdom of heaven and for you and for me, we must also be willing to connect the dots of the old and the new. Yes, this can be the connection between the Old and New Testaments, but let’s look beyond that. Maybe we are being challenged to connect the dots and understand that we are placed in a long chain of church history, and that to truly appreciate this we must bring out the treasures of the new and the old.
I’m not going to begin here with the worship wars, I’d like to take us back a bit further than that in history. Let’s start with the early church — the one birthed on the day of Pentecost! We are connected to what happened that day as the church, the bride of Christ was birthed. I hear too many Christians that only appreciate their particular denomination, or possibly their own branch of Christianity. However, Jesus is telling us that we are to bring out the treasures from the past to truly understand the kingdom. Has Christianity always done a great job of being the body of Christ? Hardly! But does that mean that we cannot look for the nuggets of treasure found in our past?
As I study church history I am blessed by the treasures that I find. Usually those treasures are people who have served faithfully in the kingdom of heaven and their lives serve as a compass giving me guide points along the journey. Just as we read in Hebrews about the great cloud of witnesses, so we join into the story and we are cheered on by those treasures who have gone before us and whose race is not brought to perfection without us. The old and the new are inextricably connected and help us to understand the kingdom of heaven.
So let’s move up that timeline into the last 50 to 60 years or so. We must appreciate and glean from our 2000 year history but at the same time we also need to appreciate our not so distance history. There are some in the kingdom who only want to bring out the new. We want to forget about the old treasure for it simply must not be relevant to today. Or, on the other side of the pendulum are those who only want the old! Please, let’s not have any contemporary music in this church!!!
No, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven was like the one who brought out the old and the new treasure. For us to experience the kingdom here on earth we must value the old and the new and celebrate them both. The kingdom of heaven should be reflected in our worship services around the globe. The kingdom of heaven is multi-generational, multi-cultural, and multi-flexible :) Churches should be the place where the old and the new treasures shine as they are being transformed into reflections of Jesus Christ.
Maybe it’s time for us to evaluate our own personal prejudices against the old and the new. Maybe we’re unwilling to learning anything from church history — from those who planted the seeds and were a part of the church tradition that went before us. Or maybe we’re unwilling to change for the sake of the new because we like the way things have always been. The kingdom of heaven is the treasure of the past, the present, and the future. We all need something old, and something new.
Lord, thank you for the treasures of the past, and the treasures of today. Amen.