Background to Parable: Scribes were people in the Old Testament who wrote down the laws to preserve them. They also interpreted them for the people to follow. They were quite like the Pharisees of the New Testament who taught the laws and kept them up to date. The trouble was: that while God originally gave His prophet, Moses the Ten Commandments and other laws, the religious leaders placed more emphasis on their Books of Interpretation of the Laws, than the actual words spoken to Moses by God. This is what angered Jesus the most about the religious leaders. They set hard rules for the common people but broke these same rules themselves. Jesus publicly called them hypocrites: the blind leading the blind!
Now to the parable: Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:52)
Essentially, a scribe was to bring new truth into the Word of God to make things relevant and applicable to the current generation. Scribes brought modern-day applications to something that was old. They had to carefully and painstakingly copy all the Scriptures slowly and carefully by hand with total accuracy. Otherwise, they needed to start all over again. There were certainly not any modern computers to delete or add things, or to easily change the size and type of font. It was an extremely specialized and arduous occupation but the authority that it generated among the people was well worth the associated stress and pain.
If they were to bring something new, that was not based on the written Law, or that couldn’t be found in what was already written: the scribe would be called a heretic and his reputation ruined as an expert Bible scholar. But if his comment was based on something Jesus taught, then the new application and insight would bring life to the teaching. So, the proper teacher of the Word, the real Christian today should be able to know the Word of God and apply it according to what is currently going on around them, similar to what their Master did on earth.
The world has advanced two thousand years since then. During that time the printing press was invented which forever changed the way that Scripture was presented and preserved. In fact, every day technology and modern science is developing at an alarming rate and will continue to escalate. Not all change is for the better. Over a hundred years ago, people’s teeth rarely rotted or had infections but today, we have sugar added to nearly everything we eat and subsequently our teeth rot. We have all sorts of antibiotics now; decades ago, they did not have them and people just died. Things change, people change, technology changes
Praise God, the Bible assures us that it will never change; nor will, Jesus Christ, His Father, or the Holy Spirit ever change! Apart from being able to receive a new physical heart by clever surgery, any unbeliever can still receive a new spiritual heart because God’s salvation plan will never be outdated or improved on.
However, some human characteristics, like selfishness, do not change in people. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart of man is deceitfully wicked.” But see, we do not have to continue with the old heart of man. Jesus can give us a new heart. Life has changed; the way we do things has changed. You and I, as Christians, are to bring modern applications to something that was taught in the Bible by the Prophets, the Apostles and Jesus Himself. The people of today need to understand and apply it in order to gain some sustenance for their day to day life.
I guess that is why I am teaching this series on the parables. For over years, I have searched the bookshops for a good book that explained the parables of Jesus. Once, I saw one with glossy pictures and descriptions of the parables, but it contained only the most popular ones. I didn’t want to buy deep theological editions: that I couldn’t understand. I have never seen a book with all the parables in it. For years, I have been studying the words of Jesus and trying to understand the parables and their profound nature.
In the same way, I was moving closer in obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I have been trying to dig deep and get to the heart of what Jesus was saying, but for years that book I was looking for was elusive. So I decided that perhaps the reason I could not find such a book was because I needed to find the answers and write the book myself.
The principles behind the parables do work! Here, Jesus said He is like a householder who brings out his treasure—things old and new. There are certain things which are old, but have modern things mixed into them. An example would be a sixteenth century ring with a stone in it that is fashionable today and deemed “modern”. You can imagine this old craftsmanship as something fabulous and admirable—a modern stone in an old gold ring.
Antique furniture and modern silverware and table settings complement each other. A householder brings out the very best of what he has to make a guest feel special. So too, the modern disciple needs a teacher of the Word of God, who is able to apply Biblical truths to modern day life and make it relevant in today’s world. Like the householder in this parable, I want to do just that. I want to bring new and fresh meaning to the Scriptures: making the revelation of the “saying of old” relevant enough for the “Facebook Age.”
We live in a world that is always on the move. If we did not change or if the world did not constantly need new things, we would continue to be happy with old things, but technology changes and we all want the latest gadget, the latest phone, the latest Mp3 player, or the most up to date podcast etc.
Hebrews 13:8 says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The words of Jesus are true. Jesus does not change yet He likes His truth to be relevant and contemporary, which is what this parable is all about. There is great wisdom in keeping some of the old truths in the parables, but there is a great use for modern understanding. Jesus is always up to date. He is relevant. If He were here on earth today, He would be using parables that were talking about things we know and do today. He would engage in Facebook and You Tube. He would bring a message that we would all be interested in and be happy to listen to.
Jesus said that a good scribe is able to do this, just like a proud mother or wife presents a meal with the best of her plates and dishes. She may serve a meal on antique plates that were given to her by her great grandmother but when she serves the food, you can be sure it will not be a hundred years old.
Some people might think this book on parables is rich and profound. I tried to explain them as simply and as best as I could. I did what a modern householder would do. I have tried to do what Jesus said— to mix His age-old stories with modern day applications.
Many people frown upon “The Message” translation of the Bible, saying that it is not a literal translation and therefore not accurate. However, if more people understand Jesus’ teachings and the character of God through this book than the more literal translation, then it serves its purpose and does a lot of good. It is not a “dulled down” version of the Bible because I hear many intelligent and popular spirit filled preachers quoting from its pages. God uses modern books that are easy to understand.
I pray that this has helped you.