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Lowell Brueckner

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Seeking the Truth of the Kingdom, chapter eight


After the seven parables of Matthew 13, Jesus adds another small parable that concerns the future ministry of His disciples… and, of course, the teaching is for all disciples down through the ages. Then, the chapter ends with an account of Christ returning to His own village, Nazareth, where he was raised and now is rejected. They reject His person and cannot understand his teaching. That was and continues to be the story of Jesus in this world, but Christians are not dismayed by it. Christ told us before hand that this would happen, but at the same time a plan would unfold for everyone that believes in Him.  


“Have you understood all these things? They said to Him, ‘Yes.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.’” Matthew 13:51-52

This is the last chapter of this book

Yes, they had understood. Over a period of 3½ years of discipleship, Jesus gathered the material and formed a firm base upon which to build, but still they lacked much, there is no doubt about that. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (Jn. 16:12). Before Jesus left them and went to heaven, “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:45). He opened a door of understanding in their beings, so that the Holy Spirit of truth could continue to lead them, teaching them the principles of the Kingdom of God. “The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me… The Holy Spirit… will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you… The Spirit of truth… will testify about Me… When He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth… He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you” (Jn. 14:24,26; 15:26; 16:13,14).

We see in these texts in John that the things that Jesus taught were not altogether new, but were the same words of the Father and connected with all that He had given since the beginning of time. The Holy Spirit’s teaching would not be new either, but wholly related to that of Christ. The doctrine of the apostles, full of the Holy Spirit, did not contain anything besides that which Jesus had given His followers in the Gospels. The entire Bible is a single, unified word.

We must try to involve ourselves in these parables, find their significance, see how we can apply them to our time, and how we can live them personally and individually. We also must answer the question, “Have you understood all these things?” If we can say, ‘yes’, then what will be the next step for us to take?

A scribe was a student of the Old Testament. When Herod, the king, heard from the wise men that the King of the Jews was born, he assembled the chief priests and the scribes. They were the experts in teaching and answering questions concerning the Scripture. The problem with these men in the time of Christ was that they were corrupt and had lost the spiritual authority that only God can give (Mt. 7:29). They knew the letter well, but they had not been instructed by the Spirit. Now, Jesus had put His disciples in their place, as scribes, for the sake of God’s people. They had to know how to combine the treasures that they had learned from their childhood with the new revelation that they had received during the last 3½ years. We cannot read the writings of the fishermen, Peter and John, and think that they continued to be “unlearned and ignorant men”, as the rulers of Israel assumed. They were converted into experts of the old Scriptures, and their epistles were the works of scribes, full of the Spirit.

If we are going to be scribes, then we should desire to be like them and like another man, who appeared at the end of the Jews’ Old Testament history after the years of captivity. Ezra was a serious scribe with spiritual authority and was worthy of respect. “He was a scribe skilled in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given; and the king granted him all he requested, because the hand of the Lord his God was upon him… Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:6,10). He was a genuine scribe from his heart.

The word scribe is related to the old pact, in the same way that the term disciple is related to the followers of Jesus and His gospel. In this verse Jesus gives another small parable, speaking of the father of a household. Obviously, he was rich and had a treasure made of new things and old. Jesus taught that every scribe, who becomes a disciple, is like this father and has incomparable riches to resort to and demonstrate. He is a scribe and knows well the ancient treasures of the Old Testament, but he is also a disciple who can bring out fresh teachings, given by the Word become flesh, from the New Testament.

In the time of the apostles, many considered Christianity a new sect. In Acts 24:5, we read an accusation against Paul, presented by the Jewish orator, Tertullus, to the Roman governor, Felix: “We have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Paul replied in this way: “This I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets(vs. 14). Tertullus wanted to affirm that Christianity was a heresy, a new sect, but Paul denied that accusation, arguing that he believed only that which was solidly based on the old Scriptures. Paul later was among some of the chief Jews in Rome and they said to him, “Concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.” To them Paul, testified about the kingdom of God and tried to “persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets” (Ac. 28:22-23).

Paul was a scribe and a disciple, well instructed in the Kingdom of God. In all his epistles, he constantly made mention of the Old Testament. Also in the Gospels, each writer, based on the old Scriptures, confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah. In the same way in the book of Acts, the apostles preached the gospel along with the Old Testament, not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. When Peter opened the gospel to the Gentiles for the first time in Acts 10, he said, “Of him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sin” (vs. 43).

In spite of the fact that the message of Jesus of Nazareth was full of power and accompanied by miracles, it would have been greatly open to insecurity and doubts in the beginning, if the early disciples had not been able to prove it by the Scripture. God had instituted the Scripture as His authority since creation. The noble men of Berea sat before Paul, while he announced the gospel to them, with their scrolls rolled open, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men” (Ac. 17:11-12).

A disciple of Christ also must be a scribe. This is what Jesus wanted to show His disciples. He must walk in the old ways, marked from the foundation of the world, as he learned, at the same time, the new interpretations of parables that Jesus opened to him. In his being, the fresh breeze of the gospel must blow over the solid foundation of the Old Testament. As Joel prophesied, he must constantly be receiving new visions as young men should do, while at the same time, he must be firmly founded upon the dreams of the old men. He must sing the spiritual songs of today, along with the old hymns of yesterday. He must teach that which is established, as well as to prophesy of what is to come. He must know, from where he came, where he is and where he is going.


“When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.’ And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:53-58

Jesus had been alone with His disciples, observing how they listened attentively to His teaching. They were readily willing to put in practice all that He said. Now, however, He returned to Nazareth, where He had been raised from a child until He was 30-years-old. He had played in the streets, and walked outside the village in the hills. Joseph was still alive, when Jesus was 12-years-old, but after that, we know nothing of him. Since Jesus was the oldest son of the family, it is probable that Joseph gave Him special attention, training Him in the carpenter trade. Jesus Himself was known as “the carpenter”, so we can easily conclude that he was in charge of the business, when Joseph died. In this way, He would have been well-known in the very small town. Surely, we made much of the furniture and many wooden objects found in Nazarene homes.

Jesus had four brothers and, at least, two sisters. Mary gave birth to seven children or more. It was not a small family. After the first demonstration of His miraculous power, His brothers and mother went with Him from Cana to Capernaum. Jesus decided to move there. In the Gospels, we notice some members of His family came to visit Him, but it is obvious that they were not His disciples. Mary, His mother, was with the brothers. In John 7, we read that the brothers advised Him to manifest Himself in a public manner at the feast in Jerusalem. They wanted Him to be known among the people. They grew up in the same house, but it is obvious that they did not see things as He did. They were personal witnesses of His way of living and of his supernatural works, but did not believe in Him. Their relationship with the world around them was totally different from that of Jesus (Jn. 7:6-8).

Have you ever been confronted with frigid, human mentality, after having participated in spiritual and heavenly things? In this passage, after meditating on the teachings of Jesus, you can feel the arctic cold in your spirit. Many Christians have felt the same way among their siblings, those with whom they have lived, played and worked, for many hours, days and years.

The villagers of Nazareth knew Jesus and all His family by name. It is interesting to see that, when Jesus taught in the synagogue, they recognized the wisdom of His teaching and did not deny His miraculous power. Their difficulty was in accepting that someone, raised in the same circumstances and possibilities as they had, could arrive at such a high level of spiritual development. The leaders of the synagogue were offended by His knowledge and understanding of scripture and the town leaders by his ability to communicate. The entire town was offended because of His nearness to God, but also because He never gave them a word of encouragement. On the contrary, He insulted them, insinuating that the pagan Gentiles had more potential for pleasing God than they did.

When we lived on the Little Coast of Mexico, we knew of people in villages, who were assassinated because of envy. They simply were becoming more prosperous and arriving at a little higher level of living than the rest. It was unforgivable. We have seen women reject their husbands, when they became better men through the new birth, stopped beating them, quit taking drugs or alcohol and had become good fathers to their children. We know of parents who said that they would rather see their children revert to drugs, rather than convert to true Christianity. I have seen people excommunicated from their church, because they had a born-again experience, and many more, after having received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. They lived a sincerer Christian life than before, contributed more money to the church, were more active in God’s work, but because they had received something more from God than the rest had experienced - that was unforgivable. Joseph’s brothers were envious and hateful towards him, because he had received revelations from God.

Jesus said that “the enemies of a man will be those of his own household”, because they will have difficulty forgiving one of their own, for encountering spiritual success. It seems that the closer a person is to another in a natural relationship, the less likely is he to be spiritually understood. This is the principle behind the declaration that Jesus made at this period in His life: “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” It is more acceptable to be distant, in a natural sense, than to be close.

As a result, “He did not do many miracles there”. For what prime reason? “Because of their unbelief.” What great power there is in unbelief! It puts limitations on the omnipotence of Christ. He would heal crippled children and free the demon-possessed; He would open the eyes of the blind and heal incurable diseases, but unbelief does not permit it. Please do not tell me that the day of miracles ended at the time of the apostles and that we should not expect that the Almighty should continue to do them! Don’t tell me that some (or all) of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not to be practiced in the church in these times! How then will the spiritual, supernatural body of Christ function on earth? Will it now be by human wisdom, talents and capacities? Often, the reason behind such denials is the same that existed in Nazareth: “Since we don’t have these things, you can’t have them either! We don’t see miracles, because God has changed and doesn’t do such things anymore. If He did, He certainly would be doing them among us first, since we are His favorites and the most correct.” This is the kind of arrogance that leads to envy.

There must be something good for us to learn from this sad story, since God has it before us in the Bible. We can benefit from such accounts, if we have our eyes wide open to reality. First, we must be determined not to fall into the same error as they did, but pray, “Oh God, please and above all, humble me in my heart, so that I am able to face truth. Help me to love truth more than life. May I have the same heart as John Hus, who, when given a chance to recant before the stake, where in a few moments he was to be tied and burned, went instead to his death singing. To be burned was better than to renounce the precious word that You gave him. Give me a high regard for Your word and the faith to believe it. Let the world say what it will, let me be convinced of the superiority of that, which comes from Your lips. Help me to deposit all my trust there and not vacillate, but to be most appreciative of the word that You have put in my hands. How simple it is to open its pages and let it take me beyond human wisdom and knowledge! Send your Spirit of truth to teach me.”

From that prayer, we can go on to intercede desperately for a world, closed to the word of God, which will never see without a divine, supernatural touch. “Oh God, the blindness that surrounds us is oppressive and disheartening, so much so that it almost drowns us in despair. We see our personal impotence against so great a deluge of deception. Oh Lord, if You do not do something, many dear ones will be lost. Without revival fires, just as in the upper room, there is no way to wake people from their spiritual slumber. The Christianity that they have seen so far obviously has not been sufficient, since they continue in their same ways. Oh, do something, not only in meetings, but in homes, on the streets and in places of business. Get their attention, as only You can do. Save some in villages today, which are as obstinate as Nazareth. From today’s religious crowd, with their frightening likeness to Pharisees and Sadducees, save some. Save every one of our family members. We pray, because we see no remedy outside of prayer. Our eyes are on you, oh Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”


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