Does It Really Mean That?

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. When my kids were little, they watched the VHS tape so many times it broke so we bought a DVD to replace it. The movie has many great lines, and my now-adult children and I can quote a lot of them. One I use often is: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I thought of it this past week when I read a note for Matthew 13:44 in The Passion Translation. The notes are available on the YouVersion app, which is a Bible app with devotionals and many translations.

“Heaven’s kingdom realm can be illustrated like this: ‘A person discovered that there was hidden treasure in a field. Upon finding it, he hid it again. Because of uncovering such treasure, he was overjoyed and sold all that he possessed to buy the entire field just so he could have the treasure.’” The note is rather long but I think you will benefit from it. “See also Proverbs 2:4. The most accepted interpretation of this parable is that Jesus is the treasure, but Jesus taught that the field is the world (v. 38). The allegory breaks down, for a believer doesn’t sell all he has (works) and then buy the world to find Jesus (the treasure). It is more plausible to view the hidden treasure as a symbol of you and me. Jesus is the man who sold all that he owned, leaving his exalted place of glory to come and pay for the sin of the whole world with his own blood just so he could have you, his treasure. Heaven’s kingdom realm is experienced when we realize what a great price Jesus places on our souls, for he gave his sacred blood for us. The re-hiding of the treasure is a hint of our new life, hidden in God. See Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 3:1-5.”

I had never thought of Matthew 13:44 in this way and perhaps you hadn’t either. I just accepted the traditional teaching mentioned at the beginning of the note. But it seems to not mean what I always thought it meant. This explanation makes much more sense. Hmm, I wonder how many other verses we think we understand, but they might not mean what we think they mean (read with Inigo Montoya’s accent).

If you’re interested, a few years ago I wrote a post every day, featuring verses about who God is and how they might not mean what we’ve always thought. Here’s the link to January 1, 2012. (Maybe I should get those posts put in book form. I started to, but alas, it remains unfinished.)

Need to Get Away?

I’ve been rediscovering the Psalms in The Passion Translation. It’s interesting how reading familiar parts of the Bible in different translations can make it seem so different – even new and exciting. The psalm I’ve been kind of fixated on lately is Psalm 18:1-3. I won’t cite it here but will let you read it* for yourself. I’m in the process of memorizing it for those times I either want to praise God or need to find my “mountain of hiding” and my “pathway of escape.”

David wrote this after being delivered from his enemies, including Saul, who wanted to kill him. I’m sure most of us aren’t being chased by people with swords, but we do have enemies and we sometimes need deliverance and a way out of our troubles. But the escape we make into the arms of God is not the same as most people today think of escaping. We are all familiar with those ways – things we turn to, hoping to dull the pain. All of these are temporary escapes and do nothing but give momentary relief and then plunge the person right back into reality, possibly even making it worse.

When God gives us his version of escape, we are often still in the midst of our troubles. The problem doesn’t go away. The pain doesn’t stop. The worry and anxiety are often still there. But God is also there. He is in the midst of it with us. He promises he will never let us go and will never let us go through our trials alone. As David said in verse three: “All I need to do is call to you, singing to you, the praiseworthy God. When I do, I’m safe and sound in you.” Even in the most difficult times of our lives, we can trust him to reach down into our darkness to rescue us, take us from the depths of despair (v. 16), hold on to us (v. 18) and bring us into a beautiful broad place (v. 19). He truly is the champion of our cause (v. 2).

*This is a slightly different version from the one in The Psalms, Poetry on Fire, 2014.