What Is the Meaning of the Homeowner Parable?

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When Jesus taught, He almost exclusively used parables. Mark tells us, “He did not say anything to them without using a parable” (Mark 4:34a). His stories helped everyday people understand deep spiritual truths-and would even hide the truth from people too hard-hearted to understand (Matthew 13:11-13).

While Jesus often told parables that were rich in detail and characters, sometimes His parables were only a sentence long. Their shortness has caused people to argue about whether we should even consider them a parable.

The Parable of the Homeowner is a perfect example.

He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Matthew 13:52).

At one point, after giving several parables in quick succession, Jesus asked the disciples if they understood the things He was telling them. When they affirmed that they got it, He shared this brief parable. Let’s examine what He said.

New and old treasures

“Therefore every teacher of the law . . .”

Jesus laid out the subject straight away. He’s talking about the teachers of the law. These are the people Israel relied on to help them understand who God was and what He desired. What Jesus is saying here is focused on rabbis and the other teachers of Israel.

“. . . who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven . . .”

The Lord’s earthly ministry announced that the kingdom of God had come. Throughout Galilee and Judea, He was inviting people to join this new expression of God’s kingdom. Famously, Jesus was throwing open the doors to the kingdom and inviting everyone in.

But something special would happen when the teachers of the law entered the kingdom.

“. . . is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

It’s evident from the Gospels that there is a lot of tension between Jesus and the law’s teachers. But that has more to do with the hearts of the teachers than it does with Jesus’s intentions. In the Lord’s economy, these teachers held a place of honor. Jesus likens them to the owner of a house.

As disciples of the kingdom, teachers of the law would play pivotal roles. They had a keen understanding of the law and the prophets. They could help people understand God’s relationship to Israel and all the incredible things He had done to protect and guide His people. But they would also see that law in the way that God intended, pointing people toward reconciliation in Jesus Christ.

Their understanding of the law was the old treasure, but that old treasure becomes something new in the light of the gospel. We can see that in the life of the apostle Paul. When he met Jesus, everything he knew about God and the Scriptures was transformed into something brand new. It didn’t take away from his understanding of God’s first covenant; it elevated it. He saw it all more clearly.

In this parable, Jesus pointed out that Israel would benefit from the conversion of her teachers. They would have so much more insight to offer from God’s law.