Bring In the New and Bring In the Old

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 61, 62 (Morning)
Psalm 68:1-20 (21-23) 24-36 (Evening)
Neh. 12:27-31a, 42b-47
Rev. 11:1-19
Matt. 13:44-52

Bring In the New and Bring In the Old

Today Matthew provides four examples of the way Christ taught his disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven. In just eight verses, he gives us three parables about it, plus one extra clue: “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Christ did not “come to abolish the law,” but he sure did bring a new perspective on it. After Christ’s life, we can see in retrospect that his provocative teachings were actually in perfect harmony with the Old Testament – “the fulfilling of the law.” But at the time, the Kingdom of Heaven was never part of Jewish awareness or teaching – it was a new thing. The scribes of the day might have mastered scripture backward and forward, but they were not “trained for the kingdom of heaven.” It was Christ who spoke about it first – and often – training his disciples, and checking to make sure they “understood all this.” Earlier in the chapter, Christ told his disciples why he used these parable lessons: “Many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

So Jesus’ disciples (and all of Jesus’ followers ever since) were faced with having to integrate all the old teachings of scripture with Jesus’ new challenge to engage a heart-centered, direct relationship with God, and with each other. Encountering Jesus calls for each person to transcend the letter of the Law, to live out of the Spirit, to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

God’s all-forgiving love had always been there, in that old Book, but it took Christ’s revelation to shine the light on it. Taken together, the Old Testament helps us to understand God and God’s plan through Christ, and Christ fulfills the scriptures by bringing God’s love alive in our hearts, so that we truly have in our “treasure what is new and what is old.”

Written by Ellis Ralph

Ralph Ellis was a successful, stressed-out, overworked manufacturing engineer, but threw all that away, devoting his energy instead to being the unknown folk singer/songwriter Ellis Ralph. Playing in pubs, churches, and retreats, and becoming a duo with sexy electric bass player and singer/songwriter Judi Neal, Ellis Ralph has had much more fun than Ralph Ellis ever did, and has no plans of going back to being a responsible adult. Ellis attends 11 o’clock service, and loves taking a turn to read or to bear the chalice.

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