In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13, there is a string of parables. In Jesus’ day, they related quite well to local, everyday occupations: the mustard seed (farmer), yeast and flower (baker), the treasure in a field (land owner), the pearl of great price (merchant), and the net (fisherman).
Seen as a whole, they taught that the kingdom of heaven is amazing. In fact, it is mind-blowing. Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to tiny things that displayed eye-popping growth, items of tremendous worth that motivated people to obtain them, and displays of incredible, jaw-dropping abundance.
As stories, many of Jesus’ parables are exaggerated and way over-the-top. As such, they certainly grab your attention.
Jesus told the parable of a little yeast that is added to three measures of flour — that works out to about 17 gallons. Who would actually do such a thing?
Jesus also told of the merchant who sold everything he had to purchase a single pearl. This would have been interesting news to tell the wife and kids that their home and all of its contents, as well as their food and clothing, was sold to purchase a small iridescent object. Who would do such a thing? Again, this is over the top.
Along the same lines, here is a new parable (especially told for the teacher).
The kingdom of heaven is like a grade-school teacher who wanted to motivate her students. We will call her Megan.
Megan used a single word to do so. By uttering this word, she increased the student’s learning and retention tenfold. She called this the “Megan Method.”
Years later, her former students still used this method. They were all very successful in what they chose to do in life and their learning and retention increased one-hundred fold.
As a story, this is absolutely over-the-top. That’s the point. As such, it certainly grabs your attention. It begs you to think, and then think again (to think bigger).
So, when it comes to the kingdom of heaven, what do we think that will be like?
Well, to think bigger, perhaps the kingdom of heaven (sometime in the future) can also be heaven on earth (here and now)? We can participate.
In doing so, in this life, why not teach and live the word “grace” and use it abundantly?
To me, this doesn’t seem over-the-top or absurd at all.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 25 years.