This is Saturday of the second week of Lent. The reading is Matthew 13, with a focus on 31-33 and 44-46. (If you want to listen, scroll to the bottom of that page for the audio links.)
Wright contends that the point of Jesus’ parables was to say ” the full victory, the final abolition of evil, still remained in the future, but no, that didn’t mean that nothing was really happening, that God’s kingdom wasn’t really present in some way or other.” The parapbles of ‘the mustard seed’ and ‘the yeast’ make this point effectively: what Jesus was doing there in Galilee may have looked like ‘small potatoes’ on the world stage, but ultimately it would grow miraculously!
But Wright goes on to say that “The other main message of this chapter is that Jesus is looking for people to sign on, people who are prepared to take his kingdom-movement forward in their own day. Here the stories are about someone finding something of enormous value and selling everything they possess in order to buy it. This could be heard in a rather selfish fashion: if I give up everything else for Jesus I will have a wonderful spiritual life. That is no doubt true, but the kingdom of heaven is far, far more than ‘me and my spiritual life’ now and salvation in the end. The kingdom of heaven is about God’s rule sweeping through the sad, decaying world we live in. That is a goal worth working for! That is a vocation to beat all others. Give up your other treasures, Jesus is saying, and buy this one.”
One of the songs we’re singing at church Sunday captures this: Knowing You “All I once held dear, built my life upon; All this world reveres and wars to own; All I once thought gain I have counted loss; spent and worthless now, compared to this: Knowing you, Jesus.”