Sermon- The Proteus Problem, Matthew 13:44,45 sermons -- Sunday Sermons preaching resources

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The Proteus Problem

The Reign of God is like a buried treasure ... The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant's search for fine pearls
Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46

Sermon Topic Kingdom of God

Sermon Week Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 13:44,45


In Greek mythology, the "Old Man of the Sea," whose name was "Proteus," was assigned the duty of guarding a large herd of seals, the property of the god "Poseidon." At noon each day Proteus would appear out of the sea and take his place on the rocks, with the seals gathered around him. Among his many talents, Proteus had the ability to look into the future and speak only the truth. But if someone wanted to learn something from Proteus, a problem in communication arose. It seems that Proteus was a "shape-shifter." This meant that he could take any shape he wished. When someone asked him a question, he would avoid answering by reshaping himself into a tree or a lion or a dragon or water or fire, and so on. This frightened or discouraged most people. But if a person persisted, and really held on tightly to Proteus, the "Old Man of the Sea" eventually would answer the question, regardless of the shape he had assumed.

Often, in the New Testament, the Risen Christ is depicted as a shape-shifter. On the road to Emmaus, two men who had been His close disciples walked and talked with Him, "but their eyes were kept from recognizing him" (Lk. 24:16). Later, as Jesus stood among the disciples, "they were startled and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit" (Lk. 24:37). On another occasion, Jesus appeared on the beach where the disciples were fishing, "yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus" (Jn. 21:4). The Gospel writers do not tell us why Jesus' closest friends did not recognize Him at once on these occasions. But, in recalling these episodes, we are reminded of Jesus' "Parable of the Last Judgment" in which He clearly warns us of our own failure to recognize Him when He is in our midst.

In the parable, all the people of all the nations of the world are gathered before the King sitting on His glorious throne. The King then separates the people, one from another, "as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats." [...]

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