Wise Scribes for the Kingdom of Heaven
What an interesting phrase--scribes for the kingdom!? Most people who have a general knowledge of the Scribes in the Gospels might find it odd that Jesus speaks of “scribes for the kingdom,” as the scribes in the Gospels are frequently hostile to the kingdom of Jesus.
As the people of the Book, scribing, and reading, has been at the core of our faith from our Jewish roots to the founding of schools in early western civilization. For Judaism and monastic Christianity, scribing was a calling from God and directly connected to wisdom and patience.
In the Gospels, our Lord relates wisdom and thinking like a scribe to the ways of the Kingdom. On one occasion at the end of a parable, Jesus declared that “...the children of this world are wiser in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” (Luke 16:8) On another occasion Jesus announced to His followers, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
Let’s for a moment, reflect on another teaching of Jesus. “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he 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 13:51-53)
Jesus says, "You disciples are scribes.” That is, you scribes are to be faithful in your reading, understanding, and living of God’s Word. In other words, the disciples of Jesus Christ, including, I hope, the wider Veritas community are being taught how God works in the activities of people, are scribes for the kingdom. We are learning, gradually, by our faithful walk the Kingdom ways within the world where God has placed us. A scribe for the Kingdom is to understand, to be trained, discipled, in the ways of the kingdom of heaven. The new that Jesus references would be the ways God is weaving of His will into this world at this moment.
Veritas students, or scribes for the kingdom, will be part of shaping western civilization even at its end. But more importantly their scribblings in the Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric school have heavenly import if we are scribes for the Kingdom of God for His glory and honor.
The old things Jesus references are likely the abiding things, the eternal, unalterable principles, the unchanging truths that are old in themselves and as truths rooted in the very person of God. Jesus wonderfully blends two images of authority and responsibility here with the scribe and the master of the house. Both the scribe and master of the house would understand the value of the old and the new. The new may very well be the way God is weaving His will into this world.
One modern novelist once quipped about school and life that, “You can get all A's and still flunk life.” It is our constant, hopeful, and loving plan at Veritas that all of our students and all of our teachers this year will be faithful scribes for the kingdom. Being scribes for the Kingdom of God is certainly less about having a head filled with scribe type information and more about having dwelt in the ways of our King. It is about being wiser than the children of darkness and it is about being wiser than serpents and gentle as doves.