库里新旧的东西February 10, 2019, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee (Matthew 13:44-52) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Matthew
Preached at a Combined Service service
Date: 10th Feb 2019
Preacher: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee
Matthew 13: 44 “天国好像宝贝藏在地里，人遇见了就把它藏起来，欢欢喜喜地去变卖一切所有的，买这块地。
45 “天国又好像买卖人寻找好珠子， 46 遇见一颗重价的珠子，就去变卖他一切所有的，买了这颗珠子。
47 “天国又好像网撒在海里，聚拢各样水族。 48 网既满了，人就拉上岸来，坐下，拣好的收在器具里，将不好的丢弃了。 49 世界的末了也要这样。天使要出来，从义人中把恶人分别出来， 50 丢在火炉里，在那里必要哀哭切齿了。”
51 耶稣说：“这一切的话你们都明白了吗？”他们说：“我们明白了。”52 他说：“凡文士受教做天国的门徒，就像一个家主从他库里拿出新旧的东西来。”
我先给你看一个古董宝藏，就是旧约的天国。天国并不是耶稣发明的新花样。因为以色列本来的使命就是展现天国的样貌。神对亚伯拉罕说：2 我必叫你成为大国，我必赐福给你，叫你的名为大，你也要叫别人得福。 3 为你祝福的，我必赐福于他；那咒诅你的，我必咒诅他。地上的万族都要因你得福。（创12：2-3）所谓天国，其实就是属于神的国。一个国是否属于神，并不在乎资产、名号、疆土、或任何占有权。天国不需要插一个神的旗帜才叫神的国。重点在于人心愿不愿意活出神的旨意。不管哪里有人把神的旨意行在地上，如同行在天上，那里就是天国。而当天国彰显出来的时候，效果就如同神对亚伯拉罕的应许一样：真正的天国就是神的子民成为别人的祝福。
天国怎么成为别人的祝福？天国的世界就是人与人的关系和好，人与世界的关系和好，人与上帝的关系和好。以赛亚书2:3 必有许多国的民前往，说：“来吧！我们登耶和华的山，奔雅各神的殿。主必将他的道教训我们，我们也要行他的路。” 4 他必在列国中施行审判，为许多国民断定是非。他们要将刀打成犁头，把枪打成镰刀。这国不举刀攻击那国，他们也不再学习战事。5 雅各家啊，来吧，我们在耶和华的光明中行走！弟兄姐妹，这样的世界是你们的梦想吗？ 真正的天国就是神的子民活出神的旨意，让一切的关系都和好，这样就是成为别人的祝福。
千万不要以为天国这样的世界离我们很遥远，或很抽象。我承认我们很难想象破碎的关系如何能够复合。所以我们只是把天国当作梦想和理想而已。但是如果我们真的这么想，那就表示我们还没听到福音，又或者我们听到了，但我们还是不敢相信。弟兄姐妹，其实天国就在眼前，可是我们所能看见的只有天国眼前的现值(present value)，而我们必须从天国的现值看到天国的终值(future value)。耶稣用了当时大家都听得懂的方式，告诉门徒（马太福音13）: 31 “天国好像一粒芥菜种，有人拿去种在田里。 32 这原是百种里最小的，等到长起来，却比各样的菜都大，且成了树，天上的飞鸟来宿在它的枝上。” 天国就在眼前，差别只是我们是否有辨别价值的能力。
要从现值去判断终值是多么不容易的事。特别是如果这个增幅的方式是不断倍增。“If you had invested just $1000 in Amazon's IPO in 1997, that investment would have been worth nearly $1.2M in 2018. That would yield an increase of more than 120,000% on the initial investment.”  试问有多少人能够在二十年前从那颗种子看出二十年后的价值呢？如果现在给你回到20年前，你会怎么做呢？你也许就会变卖所有的投资Amazon了。香港俚語順口溜：『有早知，冇乞兒。』乞丐和富人的差别就在于你看得出这颗种子的现值和终值的差别。今天我的任务就是使大家大开眼界，能够从种子的现值，看到天国的终值。大家想大开眼界吗？
(Translation credit: Vincent)
Brothers and sisters, happy lunar new year. Did any family members, relatives and friends visit you at your home this year? If so, I believe that you would have done some spring cleaning, taking the festivities in your home up a notch, right? (If no response: Wow, you actually have guests visit your home without some cleaning up?) From the design of the layout to the decorative displays, we hope that they would leave our visitors with an impression which we had intended to be made. An educator in fact is very much the same. Every class/lesson, every lecture, is akin to a head of household inviting a guest to enter a place which he/she had very carefully/meticulously prepared. Each event witnessed, each message heard, recollecting from our memories after departing, would hopefully encapsulate and capture the effect which was intended by the speaker.
I believe Matthew had the same mindset when he was writing the gospel of Matthew. Matthew completed/fulfilled the mission which Jesus had entrusted the disciples with: 52 “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.” When Matthew invites us into his home, he brings out and displays both his old and new treasure. The old refers to his knowledge of the Old Testament. The new his understanding of Jesus. Putting these together, would allow for gaining of new insights through reviewing the past. Today, as you pay a Chinese New Year visit to God’s home, I have an important/critical mission. I must bring out the old and the new treasures out of the gospel of Matthew. Are you ready, to witness something spectacular? (If you do not wish to see, I will simply bring them home. Kidding.)
I will first show you an antique treasure, and that is the Old Testament’s Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven was not some new innovation cooked up by Jesus. Israel’s original mission was to reveal the manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven. God said to Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” (Genesis 12: 2-3) This so-called Kingdom of Heaven, in actuality is simply a Kingdom which belongs to God. Whether or not a kingdom belongs to God, is not determined by its assets, titles, territories, or any entitlement to/of possessions. The Kingdom of Heaven does not require a flag post of God’s in order for it to be called God’s Kingdom. The critical point is whether the heart of man is willing to live out the will of God. Regardless of whereabout on earth man carries out God’s will, as it is in heaven, that is where the Kingdom of Heaven is. And when the Kingdom of Heaven is manifested, the effect/impact would be identical to the covenant God made with Abraham: The (true) Kingdom of Heaven is God’s people becoming a blessing to others.
So how does the Kingdom of Heaven become/equate blessings to others? The realm of the Kingdom of Heaven is reconciled relationships between men, between men and the world, and between men and God. Isaiah Chapter 2:3 many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the LORD’s mountain, to the temple of the God of Jacob, so he can teach us his requirements, and we can follow his standards.” 4 He will judge disputes between nations; he will settle cases for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up the sword against other nations, and they will no longer train for war. 5 O descendants of Jacob, come, let us walk in the LORD’s guiding light. Brothers and sisters, is this the world you dream about? The true Kingdom of Heaven is the people of God living out God’s will, so as to allow for shalom/peace across all relationships, and this would become a form of blessing to others.
Please do not think that the Kingdom of Heaven is far removed from us, or is a very abstract concept. I do concede that it is difficult for us to imagine how broken relationships can be reconciled. Therefore we might regard the Kingdom of Heaven as a dream, as an aspiration or something ideal. But if we were to really think in this manner, however, that would be indicative of the fact that we have yet to hear the gospel or perhaps we have heard it but we dare not believe in it. Brothers and sisters, as a matter of fact, the Kingdom of Heaven is right in front of us, but unfortunately what we could only see and appreciate is the present value of this Kingdom of Heaven which is right in front of us, but what we must in fact be able to is to comprehend and appreciate the future value of this Kingdom of Heaven from its present value currently. Jesus utilized a methodology which everyone is very accustomed to/familiar with, He gave the disciples another parable (Matthew 13: 31-32): 31“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the wild birds come and nest in its branches.” The Kingdom of Heaven is right in front of us, and the crux/crucial point being whether we have the capability to ascertain its value and worth.
To assess and project future values from present values is no easy feat. This is particularly so when the increase or appreciation happens through continuous compounding. “If you had invested just $1000 in Amazon's IPO in 1997, that investment would have been worth nearly $1.2 million in 2018. That would yield an increase of more than 120,000% on the initial investment.” How many were able to foresee twenty years ago the value/worth of this seed today? If you were able to turn back time back to the period 20 years ago, what would you have done? Perhaps you would have sold off all your possessions and invested all in Amazon. There is a slang/a jingle in Hong Kong: (loosely translated, if there’s such a thing as “knowing beforehand”, than there will not be any beggars.). The difference between the wealthy and the poor lies in the ability to ascertain the difference between the present and future values of this seed. My mission today is to open all of our eyes, to be able to see the future value of the Kingdom of Heaven, from the present value of this seed today. Would everyone like to have this moment of epiphany/widen your vision and horizon?
The treasure of the old is the Kingdom of Heaven in the Old Testament. The treasure of the new in fact is a grain of seed, and this has to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said: “20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. This clearly indicates that Jesus Christ is the first fruit, and this marked the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven in the New Testament. 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. At the genesis/beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven there was only Jesus Christ, but the fruits would continue to multiply. There would be disciples, then disciples of these disciples, and so forth, continuously compounding and multiplying. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-25). At the very beginning this seed looks ordinary and inconspicuous, with very low present values. But the future value of this Kingdom of Heaven is in fact all authority in heaven and on earth. We have to widen our vision and horizon. Those who belong to Christ are akin to seeds of the gospel 23 sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word and understands. He bears fruit, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 13:23). So Brothers and sisters, is the Kingdom of Heaven really that far removed, or that abstract a notion? The Kingdom of Heaven actually starts with the gospel right in front of us. The crucial point being your reaction, response after having discovered the seed of the gospel. If you could only see the seed in its present form, but not its future, then certainly there would not be any responses. But if your vision allows you to glean through this little seed the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven in the future, then of course you will be able to give up everything you have in exchange for this grain of seed.
I think that the story of Matthew the Apostle himself was perhaps something like this. He was blessed because Jesus sought him out first and not the other way around. You could say that he had very unintentionally discovered this hidden treasure. However, since he started following Jesus, he was still constantly trying to figure Jesus out, to ascertain whether Jesus was the real deal, a priceless pearl. He discovered that Jesus not only ate with tax collectors and sinners, but in the gospel of Matthew Jesus specifically said this: “I want mercy and not sacrifice.” You go and learn what this saying means; For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13) Among Jesus’ disciples, there were some who left Him, abandoned Him, betrayed Him, but Matthew firmly believed and followed Jesus till the end. One could say that Matthew gave up all, and invested everything in this seed of Jesus. This was Matthew’s vision. Similarly, in Jesus, Peter found the Messiah. The doubting Thomas discovered the truth of resurrection. Simon the Zealot found the eternal nature of the God’s Kingdom. Matthew the sinner saw the present value of mercy and compassion, and appreciated that through Jesus God can redeem all mankind. Brothers and sisters, have you thought about what exactly you are looking for?
I hope you are looking for the Kingdom of Heaven. The realm of the Kingdom of Heaven is reconciled relationships between men, between men and the world, and between men and God. The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl/on the Kingdom of Heaven reminded us, our world is bound for a destination. And we must face judgement one day. When it comes to food and beverage, the Jews have to abide by the stipulation of their laws, the seafood which had been caught have to be sorted, into those which could be eaten and those which could not. On Judgement day, God will similarly sort the righteous from the evil/wicked. The righteous are not referring to philanthropists or saints, but those who willingly and unquestionably follow God’s will. The wicked rebel against God, and though they are aware of God’s judgement, nevertheless resist God till the very end. Since we have heard the gospel, we can no longer deny that Jesus has nothing to do with us. We are righteous if we obey. Wicked if we rebel. The Kingdom of Heaven in the future will have no bystanders, no in-between-ers.
Brothers and sisters, your eyes are blessed because they see; and your ears as well because they hear. (Matthew 13:16) So what are you going to do? I believe that the manner in which each of us invests will vary widely. Some will be full-time, become pastors, directors, evangelists. Some will energetically care for others, spreading the gospel. These are all feasible means in which to respond. The only unacceptable means is to underestimate oneself. Because if we do so, it would equate with underestimating the gospel, underestimating God’s strength and power. It is similar to the next passage, in which Jesus’ hometown, the Nazarenes underestimated Jesus. They only saw the present value, but could not fathom or see the future value. Since we are of Christ, then our present and future values are no longer the same. When we serve, God is co-working with us, our acts of compassion is the sharing of God’s infinite love. God Himself is sowing the seeds and reaping the harvest when we spread the gospel. So it does not matter how we go about investing in the work of the gospel, the critical point being that we have faith, and be confident, because we can see the future through the gospel.
The matter pertaining to the Kingdom of Heaven is the mission of each and every one of us. The quotable quote for this year’s church camp in June: 21 So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2: 21) I asked our pastoral team, after this year’s camp, what sort of congregation will we hope to see? They replied, hope that we will be at God’s disposal, to be a blessing to others. We are like a priest, we help bring about reconciliations in relationships amongst/between man, between man and the world, and man and God. Others will witness and say of the members of our community: Our relationships were on a very rough patch, and very thankful to have you here. Or: we had thought this place could no longer be salvaged but thankfully you are here. Or: I had thought God had abandoned me, but thankfully you are here. The time is ripe for the seeds of the Kingdom of Heaven to bloom and bear fruits. May God’s compassion, mercy and wisdom guide us to be vessels suitable for Him.
Matthew 13:44–52 (Listen)
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”