Church of England Diocese of St.Albans Elstree and Borehamwood

Final Thought for the Week

3 Jul 2020, 8:45 a.m.


5 July 2020 – The Parable of the Owner of a House

It is generally believed that chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel contains seven of Jesus’ parables – the highest concentration of parables in any part of the New Testament. Over the last few months, in these “Thoughts for the Week”, we have looked at every one of those seven parables from Matthew 13 – namely, the Parables of the: Sower; Weeds;Mustard Seed; Yeast; Hidden Treasure; Pearl; and Fishing Net.

However, theologians are gradually coming to realise that there is an eighth parable hidden near the end of chapter 13, in verses 51 and 52, and that is the Parable of the Owner of a House. We will look at that parable this week.

Jesus starts by asking his disciples, in verse 51, “Have you understood all these things?” The question is for us too. It is vital that we not only read Jesus’ parables, but that we understand them too. I have been very gratified over the last sixteen weeks by the number of you who have e-mailed me with questions or comments about the parables. Please feel free to continue to do so. My e-mail address is: [email protected]

The reason why Jesus is anxious for us to understand his parables becomes clear in verse 52, where he describes the disciples (and that includes us) as “every teacher of the law”. There Jesus is clearly telling us that, if we understand his parables, it is our duty to teach them to others. That does not just refer to ministers standing in the pulpit. It refers to every one of us, even when we are chatting to someone at the bus stop. Jesus expects us to understand his parables, and then to teach others.

The crucial lesson Jesus teaches us in the Parable of the Owner of a House is in verse 52, where he says:

Every teacher of the law… is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.

What Jesus means by that is that, when we are teaching others, we must draw not only on the new things he has taught us in the Gospels (the “treasures”, as he calls them), but also on the old teaching we learned in the first five books of the Old Testament, namely the teaching of Moses. So let every one of us be like the owner of a house. When we are chatting at the bus stop, or in the supermarket, or wherever, let us teach not only Jesus’ new treasures but also the old teaching we learned from Moses.

John Auton, Licensed Lay Minister, St Nicholas Church, Elstree