They had been schooled by the Master. Taught in parables. First, as part of a “public school”, Jesus having first spoken a number of parables to the “great crowds gathered about Him” (Matt. 13:1-35). Then, the disciples were privately tutored. Presented with additional insight concerning fields, weeds, and the harvest at the end of the age, followed by three additional, short-snapper parables (Matt. 13:36-50).
And, as any good teacher is ought to do, He gave them a test. A one question,”Yes” or “No”, test.
“Have you understood all these things?” (Matthew 13:51a ESV)
Got it? “Are you starting to get a handle on all this?” (MSG) Is it ALL coming together? That’s the quite the question. Especially if it’s viewed as the be-all and end-all determiner of whether they passed or failed the course. But they were quick to respond.
They said to him, “Yes.” (Matthew 13:51b ESV)
Yes, Master. We get it.
I can’t help but wonder if they were rightfully answering or just giving the right answer. The former very likely as they had “ears to hear”, hearts ready to receive the seed of the word of the kingdom, and the Author of the Word sowing the seed firsthand. The latter, though, a possibility. Who, after all, would have admitted that simple stories about treasures and pearls and nets were too much for them to grasp. Who would risk saying, “No” in front of the others? And not gonna lie, if for some of those disciples it was just giving the right answer, then what Jesus says next kind of brings a smile to my face.
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.”
(Matthew 13:52 ESV)
Got it? Good, says Jesus. Congratulations! You are now scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven.
A scribe? A learned man? Someone trained in the Law? Someone qualified to share the Law? Someone who could be expected to speak to the Law? Or, as the case might be given their recent schooling — someone trained in the Kingdom, qualified to share about the Kingdom, and able to speak to the Kingdom?
Wait a minute! I’m a fisherman, a tax collector, a political activist, some guy who was sitting under a tree and responded to a call to come. Me? A scribe? A learned one? Uh, uh, I’m no academic. Not a brain. I’m just a follower.
Yup, says the Master. A follower who has been taught something. Has gained some insight into the good news of the kingdom. Now, a follower who can teach what he’s learned of the kingdom. What you’ve grasped now regard as treasure in your house. New treasure to go along with the old stores of Moses and the Prophets. Not treasure to be stored up and hidden, but to be stewarded, brought out and distributed.
If some of those disciples weren’t really picking up what Jesus was laying down but were just giving the right answer, can you imagine the shock when all of sudden they “pass the course” and are conferred the title, “Scribe”? I find it kind of amusing.
But the amusement fades quickly as I chew on the implications of being taught by Jesus. Because they got it, they were expected to give it. What they had freely received they were expected to freely give (Matt. 10:8). They were not instructed by Jesus so that they could be reservoirs of knowledge, instead they were to be channels of blessing.
What they had learned about the kingdom was to be regarded as a sacred trust to be shared with others. They were now expected to be teachers and interpreters to others. Not necessarily behind a public pulpit, but certainly around their own dinner table. Not expected to be an orator, but at least open about their faith. Not that they should be regarded as some expert, but that they would be noticed as an everyday guy, or everyday gal, who had been with Jesus.
Yes, they got it. Now, they were to give it.
Expectations of having attended the training. Implications of having passed the test.
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.