At the end of Matthew chapter 13, Jesus turned to His disciples with a question, ” ‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes.’ Jesus 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 13:51-52).
In Jesus’ day, the scribes were a class of men whose mission was to study, interpret, and expound on (and in many cases add to) the Old Testament Law. Sometimes they were referred to as “lawyers” in the gospels. They had many interactions with Jesus; conversations that revealed their opposition to Jesus’ message and mission. So why does Jesus prophesy here that based upon their understanding of His gospel message, His disciples will become “scribes”?
The key is in the words that follow “scribe” in the passage. The disciples and we who follow in their footsteps as believers have been “trained for the kingdom of heaven.” This is so beautiful and so powerful! Unlike the scribes who explained the intricacies of Old Testament Law to their countrymen, we will expound on the good news of the gospel, the new covenant, the coming of the kingdom of heaven.
And the “treasure” that we reveal and share with the world is Christ Himself. “But we have this treasure – Christ in us, the hope of glory – in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves” (Colossians 1:27 and II Corinthians 4:7). This “new” treasure is the new covenant message of all that Christ accomplished on the cross on our behalf. This is the message the apostles taught in their sermons and letters just as Jesus said they would; scribes with a new treasure.
But what about the “old” treasure. We can’t be sure about this, but I believe the “old” treasure is Christ as He appears in the Old Testament. To quote from The Chosen; 40 Days with Jesus Book Three, “Jesus in the Old Testament is the fulfillment of every prophecy, the purpose of every story, and the culmination of God’s plan to save the world from itself.”
In the most famous sermon after Christ’s death and resurrection, the apostle Peter preached Christ from the Old Testament in Acts chapter 2. Paul preached Christ from the Old Testament; reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jews in their synagogues. Jesus preached Himself from the Old Testament on the road to Emmaus, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27).
We are scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven, sharing the treasure of Christ with a message that is both new and old at the same time. New, because Jesus’ coming to earth revealed a new covenant, a new arrangement between us and God. Old, because as we will see throughout this Advent season, Jesus was there in the Old Testament scriptures from the beginning.