Text: Matthew 13:44-52 (Romans -30; 1 Kings 3:5-12)
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of
Great Price – or some version of them – can be found in every religion in the
world. That is, if they are interpreted
in the following way: that the
But that is not true, and never has been true, and
it is not what Jesus would have us learn and understand today. Not only because the
A rich young man (Mt
-26) found that out one day when
he came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what must I do to have eternal
life?” Ultimately, Jesus gave
Him the standard we’ve been talking about here so far: “sell what you possess and give
to the poor.” Sell everything
you have. If the
And so the man in these parables who sells everything he has and buys his treasure is not us. And Jesus does not tell these parables to tell us it should be us! No, Jesus tells these parables to reveal to us that the man is Him. For it is the Son of God who gave up everything – coming down from His throne in Heaven to live for us as one of us. Putting Himself under the Law that He didn’t have to keep and living a life of perfection for us in our place, doing what we cannot do. And then in the end, laying down His own perfect life for us on the cross, in order to redeem us. And that word redeem is a buying word, a purchasing word – which means (to use the words of the Small Catechism) to purchase us from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but [with something far more valuable:] with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. And then the Small Catechism tells us why: that I may be His own . . .
And with that understanding of Jesus and His work,
we see what it is that makes these parables uniquely Christian – that the doer is not us; it is God Himself. That we are not the
finders, but the found. And that we
are the treasure, hidden to this world but known by God, and considered so
precious that He would not even withhold His only-begotten Son to have us for
His own. . . . And in the midst of this world that often
dumps on us and buries us under its cares and problems – that, Jesus
wants you to know, is what the
And with that
understanding, I thought the picture on the cover of the bulletin this week was
perfect! (You might want to look at
it.) For it shows not only a hidden
treasure that had been dug up, but what does the shape of that treasure box
look like? A casket! For that’s us spiritually – born dead
in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1), not having anything to do or give up for God! . . . And
while we were still dead in our trespasses and sins, unable to find Christ and
His Kingdom – Christ found us. And finding us He was not content to leave us
there, dead; He purchased us with all that He had, by the payment of His
death, joining us in the grave. So that
when He rose, we would be raised with Him,
that we would be a treasure no longer dead and buried in the ground, but a
treasure now alive and born again. That,
as we heard in Romans, “He might be the firstborn among many
brothers.” . . . And this happened for you and me when we were
baptized. We were raised from the dead
in those waters, and given the Spirit of life, that we might live a new
life. A new life, no
longer for sin, but now in Him.
. . .
And in the midst of a world of selfishness and death – that,
Jesus wants you to know, is what the
Now, many people in this world have trouble believing this – this interpretation of these parables – because they don’t consider themselves worth that much. Maybe because of something they thought, or said, or did. And maybe you are one of those people. But isn’t it nice to know that God does consider you worth that much – so valuable that He would trade the life of His Son for you! And I daresay that His opinion matters more than yours or mine, and that His opinion is more than just opinion – it is the truth! And so you are not what you think of yourself, but what He says you are: a sinner, yes; but in Christ, even more: His child, His treasure.
And though You may not look
like a treasure now, and may look like all the other fish in the sea – Jesus
knows His own. Jesus knows the good fish
and the bad fish, the next parable He tells here. And what separates the good fish and the bad
fish is not who does good and who does bad – it is
faith. The good fish are those who know
and believe that Jesus gave up everything for them, and forgives them their
sins, and that He has purchased us and that we are His own. And the bad fish are those who do not believe
God and His Word, but try to purchase Him and His Kingdom as their own. All the fish are caught because Jesus
died for all people, but only those who by faith receive forgiveness and life as a gift from God will enter
And so for the Christian, for you and me, all depends on Christ. His coming, His life, His work, His finding, His purchasing, His forgiving, His love, His death and resurrection, His body and blood. With these we have everything. With these we are safe and secure. With these we have His Word and can rely on His promise, that He who has given us our faith, purchased us and made us His own, will see us through to the end, and take us into His Kingdom. (Rom 8:28-20) If it depends on Him then we can be sure. If it depends on us, then we will be lost.
And that difference is critical – not just for your
faith, but for your life. For only when you know that you have been
purchased by Christ and belong to Him; that you – by grace through faith – have
been given His Kingdom and are safe and secure; only then can you live in this world as the treasure you
are, and as God would have you be. For
if you are constantly having to do something for God and earn your way into
Heaven, then your whole life will be one of serving yourself to save
yourself. But if you have already been
saved by your Saviour, born again, forgiven, and set free from the burdens of
the Law, then now you can live! Not for yourself, but for others. For you have already been given everything – the
“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked His disciples. They answered yes. My prayer is that you too would understand, all that Christ has done for you. That you would pray, as Solomon prayed, not for the wealth and riches of this world, but for a right understanding of the true wealth and riches that you have already been given, in Christ. The wealth and riches of a Kingdom that will never end. To know and understand the treasure that you are, and the joy of your salvation. For then come what may in this world and in your life, this joy cannot be taken from you. For you belong not to this world, but to the One who purchased you, bled for you, cares for you, and feeds you here with His own body and blood.
Yes, you are worth that much! Not because I said so, but because the cross says so. Now go and be and live as the treasure you are!
In the Name of the Father, and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.