24 June 2009

He Buys that Field

Is the kingdom of heaven a tool to be used or a destination to be enjoyed?

Gospel of Thomas: 'The kingdom is like a man who had a treasure, of which he knew nothing, hidden in his field. After he died he left it to his son. The son also knew nothing about it. He took that field and sold it. And the buyer went to plough and found the treasure. He began to lend money at interest to whomever he wished.' (109)

Rabbinic commentary on Song of Songs 4:12: 'It is like a man who inherited a place full of rubbish. The inheritor was lazy and sold it for a ridiculously small sum. The buyer dug it industriously and found a treasure in it. He built a great palace with it and passed through the bazaar with a train of slaves whom he had bought with that treasure.'

Note the fundamental difference in Matthew: '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.' (13:44)

In Matthew 13 the kingdom is not a means to generate interest or build a palace but is itself the treasure. Jesus Christ and his gospel is what satisfies. One application: prayer is not intended to provide a new resource (God) to ask for all the things we asked for before we were believers; prayer is a branch communing with the tree; it is life; it is not using but enjoying God.

1 comment:

JDeweyL said...

Dane, the last paragraph hit me between the eyes like a 2x4! Thank you.