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Archive for August 2nd, 2017

The Readings for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost (Year A) found here.

Sermon Text:

Matthew 13:44-52 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Net

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

New and Old Treasures

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52 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.”

Can you imagine this conversation? A husband calls his wife with news that he bought something really great: “What did you buy this time?”  A pearl, of great value. “What did it cost?” I sold everything we have. “The house?!” Yup. “The business?!”Yup, even our clothes. Everything!

What’s going on here?

Hyperbole, exaggeration to make a strong point. Jesus used hyperbole in Matthew 18 to teach the supreme centrality of forgiveness in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.  A servant owed his master 10,000 talents.  One talent worth 20 years wages, 200,000  years worth of wages. The servant asks for forgiveness of his debt and the master forgives but the servant will not forgive a fellow servant his debt of 100 denarii, a year’s worth of wages and so the Lord teaches today the impossible price of salvation.

One interpretation of the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl, is the treasure and the pearl represent God’s grace in Jesus Christ His mercy.  In terms of worldly treasure, the pearl and the treasure are priceless.  So the disciple needs and seeks God’s grace. Christ is found and they sell everything they have and so buy the field to get the treasure, but that doesn’t work, does it? We can buy salvation? Forgiveness?  Can we buy back that debt? Scripture interprets Scripture and it is clear from other passages the Lord’s salvation is grace, free gift.

No doubt about that but that is not what the parable is about.  It’s worth our all, everything. It’s true. So sell all that you have to buy God’s grace?!?  Can we buy His grace, His mercy?  You better start coughing up the money now. Now there’s a new stewardship campaign. Sadly it would work to bring in money, gilt with guilt, but it does not work in terms of God’s grace in His Son. Grace which is gift. We cannot buy God’s grace in Jesus Christ.  In fact, the only way I am downright joyful in buying something is when I can get it a half-price! Not an exorbitant price. Anyone visiting in the Middle East knows about haggling in the suqs (marketplaces),  you try to get the price down and the men in the parables do not haggle.   No half-price sale in these parables. What’s going on here?

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7&

Another interpretation:  The Lord said of Israel that they are his “treasured possession”, out of all the peoples on the earth.  Why did He choose them?  Because they were the fewest of the peoples on the earth.  He loved them.  He found them. He freed them out of Egypt. The Lord keeps covenant with them.  In His parables about the reign of heaven it is about the reign of heaven in and with His beloved Son Jesus Christ. Luke 15, the sheep, the coin, the lost son all matter, are of value to the shepherd, the woman householder, the father.   He goes seeking,  searching and finding.  The hidden treasure and the pearl are His disciples:  you.  Treasured. The Lord gives up heaven to buy us back, and that’s the meaning of the word, “redeem”.  Philippians:

“…he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Remember that at this time of the Gospel narrative, things are going against Jesus and the 12. He tells them:  I found you. As recorded in John’s Gospel, the Lord said to the disciples, recorded in John’s Gospel:  “You did not choose Me, but chose you that you go out and bear much fruit.” With joy I brought you to Myself.  I dug you out.   What was of great value, one life, is found, paid for, dug out. You are the pearl and the treasure.  Jesus, priceless treasure, fount of purest pleasure treasures you to shed his blood for you.  Notice that the Lord’s currency exchange is not the same as the United States or any country for that matter.  In the first parable, the man bought the farm to have the hidden treasure he found.

  “He bought the farm” is a grim saying about dying.  Jesus bought the farm, the world, He so loved,  to have us, not with silver or gold, but His own precious blood. Priceless.  So is the price of one life: yours and your neighbor’s life.  

In the parable of the wheat and weeds, Jesus said  that the field  is the world. He is risen!  “Oh wondrous thought, He found me when I sought Him not!”  He catches the fish in His net and yes some will be unclean and unrepentant. As if He is saying:  “Fear not, again as in the parable of the wheat and the weed, I will sort it out.  I have caught you alive because you were buried and My will and My word is to catch others alive.  Spread the net. I take care of the birds of air, and are you not worth more than they?  I paid salvation’s price for you out of  My love which does not die, but is alive as I am the resurrection and the life.”

Look at what the Lord values…I have heard many times in the news that in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States spent much in terms of, “blood and treasure”. It is true, but it is blood that is our treasure.  Christ’s blood is our treasure that buys us, not finally with silver or gold, but with everything He had.  The Father treasures His Son’s blood.  We want a bargain in using our treasure and rightly so.  Yet, if you want a good idea of what the old Adam treasures:  see TV commercials, see e-bay. He found us but not at a bargain. “…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Peter 1)

Truly, “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” 52And 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.” 

This verse is unique in all the 4 Gospels.  Some have suggested that Matthew included it because it described him to a tee: the former tax collector now a scribe in the reign of heaven.  Matthew brought out new and old, both testaments, all of Scripture, Law and Promise is the Lord’s treasured Word to us all.  The treasure of old is the Lord finding His people Israel. The new treasure is finding His Church. His Word is Law and Promise. When we grow up we realize that our parents’ commands were good because they loved us.  Golden rules are His Law. His golden Rule is in and through Jesus Christ reigns in our life by His forgiveness, by grace alone.  Without mistake and without mistakes in His Word in the Scriptures toward us so that we believe and live in Him.  Found.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing in all creation can take us away from the One Who has found us and dug us out and made us alive. God’s law finds us out.   His Gospel has found us.  We live as found people, conformed to the image of His Son, looking like Jesus because He first loved us.  In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!

 

 

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