Do You Understand This?
My prayer for you as you read this sermon: As you think about the grace and mercy of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord, may you understand that God has found what He treasures, in you!
Do you understand this?
Toward the end of our gospel reading today there is a question that we need to hear, that we need to take seriously.
Do you understand all these things?
Do you understand this? What Jesus is talking about are these groups of parables. Called parables of the Kingdom because Jesus says each is an example of the Kingdom of Heaven. Do we get what it means for someone to search for treasure, and for a merchant to search the world for the perfect pearl/
Do we understand what it would cost to buy the field, what would be given up in exchange for the pearl?
The price is pretty high….
And if we don’t understand the price to be paid, we need to…
Just as we need to understand these words of the Apostle Paul.
17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT)
That observation of St. Paul’s has everything to do with the treasure and the pearl… and understanding them!
We need to understand the incredible love of God for us… and then we can unlock the meaning of parables with great ease!
Chasing after the treasure?
One of our challenges in understanding this passage is that we are so used to searching out chasing after things. We’ve forgotten how to be content with what God has blessed us with.
People search for and struggle to find the perfect career, and the perfect path in that career. So they change careers now, four or more times in their lives. Wait, I’ve only had three… HHmmmm
People chase after the perfect home, or the perfect community, the perfect family with our children and grandchildren having everything that will make their lives perfect as they grow up.
And of course, some of us chased after our spouses – until they sprung their trap…err they let us catch them. 😉
It is no wonder then that most hear this parable about the treasure and the pearl and think, well – we must find the kingdom of God, we have to find the treasure in the field. Preachers like Billy Graham and Greg Laurie encourage us to give up everything to decide to make Jesus our Lord and Savior. In effect, to see this passage this way means we save ourselves, we redeem ourselves.
But it is the way we’ve heard it, so we design church services and our evangelism programs to help people seeking to find the treasure, assuming they will recognize it when they see it, and that they will want to give up everything for something they barely understand.
Except that it doesn’t work that way.
When we are in bondage to sin, when we are buried and tarnished by the weight of this broken world, we don’t have the energy or power to save ourselves. We don’t have the ability to find the true treasure and even if we did, what could you give up that is valuable enough to give to purchase heaven?
What could we trade of equal value that would redeem us from sin and the brokenness it causes?
We aren’t the treasure hunters, we aren’t the merchants trying to find the perfect, priceless pearl.
So if we aren’t? Who is?
The simple answer is God. He is the one who came to seek and save the lost. Jesus is the one who gave up everything and took on the role of the servant. In each of the parables in this chapter, God is at work, harvesting us, causing the church to grow.
Paul described it in our second reading this way,
30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
We need to struggle with, and come to accept that we are His treasure, we are His Pearl of incredible value. Here are some other ways this is described,
17 “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. Malachi 3:17 (NLT)
5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ Exodus 19:5-6 (NLT)
18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1:18 (NLT)
And of course,
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
This is what Paul means by exploring the incredible dimensions of God’s love for us, to explore how broad and wide, how high and deep.
It is the love we have to learn to ocunt on, depend on, have faigh in, even when we don’t seem to shine like a pearl, or we seem to tarnished and pitted to be His treasure.
God is the one who found us, He is the one who gave up everything for us. This is who we are, the people that God treasures, and loves to the extent that Jesus died for us. We We heard Moses explained it to Israel, words that are true for us,
! 8 Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. 9 Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God.
So my dear friends. know you are treasured, and that God treasures everyone that you know, they just need to hear it from God, through you and me.
Devotional THought of the Day:
This morning I will be doing a funeral, helping a daughter grieve, a daughter whose mom passed away10 months ago, whose day passed away last week.
When I met him, he talked a little about the history he had at our church, the families and friends he remembered, who he served by. He also talked a lot about the things he collected over the years, the precious stamps and coins, the meeting with others who collected, the teaching of young collectors. Our discussions brought to mind a favored passage:
45 ‘Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; 46 when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.Matthew 13:45-46 (NJB)
That is a dedicated Collector, One willing to give up everything for that which is His prized possession.
So often I have heard that passage talk about those who seek for God – who seek for righteousness, who long to set things…right.
If you look carefully though, it is not so – the Kingdom of God is like the merchant – this is describing the work of the Father, and His work in coming to redeem (to purchase back) the pearl. They are the one’s seeking to complete their collection, even as the Shepherd will look for the lost sheep, or the woman her lost coin, or the Father, his prodigal son.
God is out – collecting – He has sent His agents into the world (us – His people) to continue to search for the collection. And He gave up everything- to purchase for Himself a people. He gave up His only beloved Son.
It is in days like this, that our trust in God is challenged a bit – in days where the bills are tight, in days where we don’t grasp everything going on.. it is then we need to remember that He seeks us, He comes to us, He pays the price for us, He loves us…..
And His goal is to have us…with Him.
As we draw near to a close in this advent season…may we always rejoice in His seeking us.