The first part of this post is kind of nerdy….the second raises a question.
The text notes that Jesus spoke from a boat in Matthew 13:1 and then it notes he moves inside in 13:36 where he gave an explanation for the Parable of the Weeds. This makes me wonder if the parables in the first part were all outside and if those in the second part were all inside. The outside parables then would be for a larger, general audience and those on the inside would be for the disciples. Matthew, as we have seen, is more interested in topics than chronology, so we have to be careful here.
There is also a pattern to each half – 4 parables, in each case there are paired parables (mustard/yeast and treasure/pearl), in each there is an explanation, though this is longer int he first half, and both halves refer to the sorting out process at judgment (wheat/weeds and good fish/bad fish.)
Outside (from the boat v. 1-35)
- Sower (responses to the word of God)
- (reason for parables/Sower explained)
- (Weeds Explained – sorting out)
- Hidden Treasure
- Net (sorting)
- Owner of House
- Consequence of lack of faith (bad soil, not selling all for treasure/pearl)
In the Inside section:
- first and fourth parables are linked by the idea of treasure (Gk thesauros)
- second and third parables are linked by the word “good” (Gk kalos – good pearls and good fish)
Implication: I have always thought of the hidden treasure and pearl of great price parables as expressing the initial joy of encountering the message of the Kingdom. But since these are placed by Matthew in the INSIDE section of the chapter, should we read them more as parables about following Jesus, rather than parables of the first encounter. So they call us to sell out totally to Jesus and his message.
Back to Nerdsville – I am kind of grooving out on v. 52, where the scholar who receives the kingdom can bring out the treasure of Old and New. Note that there is nothing bad said about the OLD. but that the treasury contains both, and the scholar/homeowner takes joy in both!
Doesn’t ” Good Fish,Bad Fish” sound like a Dr. Seuss title?