Having come to the end of giving seven parables in Matthew 13, Jesus then asked the disciples if they understood what he had just taught them. They all said that they did, which is surprising, and probably amusing for most readers, but they may have assumed that they did, because often those being taught give a similar response. It surely was a shallow response for them, suggesting that they did not fully appreciate the seriousness of what Jesus had taught. But who are we to throw stones at them?
Whatever their level of understanding of what he had just taught them, Jesus provided them with a way of knowing what they, as future teachers in his kingdom, would do. He did so by using the illustration of a householder who shows people what he has in his home.
It is obviously a wealthy home, full of pleasant surprises. We can imagine surprises in different rooms in his house – from the kitchen would come meals the like of which they had never tasted before; in the sitting-room, there would be incredibly comfortable chairs; in the library, there would be works of beauty; and in his treasury there would be an endless amount of money to share with the needy who came to him for help.
The disciples were informed that in the house (God’s kingdom) they would have a treasure store (their knowledge of the kingdom) to share with others at suitable times. This knowledge that they would possess would be twofold – they would state what they knew already about the kingdom and they would also explain the new discoveries they would make about the kingdom, and of course they had just been told some new things about it by Jesus on this occasion.
Perhaps we can say that for them the old was found in the Old Testament and the new would yet be recorded in the New Testament. Or we could say that the new could describe greater appreciations and understandings of what they thought the Old Testament had said about the kingdom of the Messiah.
Of course, there are lessons here for pastors and other teachers in that what they teach to their congregations should be both old and new. Studying the Bible usually, if not always, has that effect on those who prepare messages – they see aspects of truth in a passage that they did not see there before – what they may have thought was only old also becomes new. After all, no one knows everything about a Bible passage.
Yet I would also suggest that old and new should mark what every Christian should find in the Bible. Christian experience is about being fresh as well as being accurate. After all, we are teaching or sharing what a book says about Jesus and his kingdom, and because he is the focus of what it says we should expect to find what is old (be reminded) and what is new (discoveries of his grace and plans).