August 9, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
52 He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”Matthew 13:44-52
“I only eat organic” is a statement I have heard for some time now. And it is a bold statement to make because any statement that uses the word ‘only’ means there is no compromise. If a person says that they only eat organic, then they can only shop in a certain section of the grocery store. If a person says that they only eat organic, then they can only eat at certain restaurants or only eat certain options at a restaurant. If a person only eats organic, and there are no options for organic food, then they will go hungry. And, I have also seen advertisements for organic clothing meaning a person can eat and wear only organic. With such options now available, I wonder if someone has committed themselves to not only eat and wear organic but live an organic only life in every aspect giving up all things that are not labeled as organic.
When you treasure something, it shows itself in the way you live your life. If you only eat organic, people will notice that you do not get so upset when the news is already talking about skipping Halloween this year because you would never eat the processed treasures found in a kid’s empty pillow case after a night of trick or treating. If you are a baseball fan, and even more so, a St. Louis Cardinal’s fan, people will notice that your irritability has gone up at work and at home because the already short baseball season is experiencing even more postponements due to the coronavirus and the brief few games you have been able to watch have not been enough to satisfy you. If you were going to the gym five days a week, but the gym is now closed, people will still know that you are working out because you are still posting selfies of creative ways to work out at home in your living room or backyard. People around you are able to see what you treasure in your life because it affects the way that you live.
In our gospel reading from Matthew 13, Jesus revealed what a treasure the kingdom of heaven is for those who possess it. Jesus used two short parables to show the value of the kingdom of heaven. First, he said, 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” And, 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Jesus’ point with these two parables is that his kingdom is worth more than anything else. Our temptation then is to forget the value of the kingdom of heaven. And the danger in that was the point of Jesus’ next parable. He said, 47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.” Jesus used the parable of the net full of fish to describe again what will happen on Judgement Day. When Jesus returns, he will keep those who treasure him above the world. And, for those who claim to believe in Jesus, but really treasure the world, they will be thrown into hell.
One way to defend yourself against losing your possession of the treasure of the kingdom of heaven is to know what life looks like when you do not value the treasure of the kingdom of heaven. These are some examples of not treasuring the kingdom of heaven. If you do not thank God when you wake up in the morning for keeping you alive and safe during the night, for the many meals, snacks, clean drinking water and other beverages throughout the day, for having a job or money to pay for food, shelter, clothing, insurance, college, transportation, healthcare and entertainment, for getting pregnant, safe deliveries, children, grandchildren, family and friends, for education, for government, etc. And, these are the temporary blessings God gives you in this world.
Even more than these then is not thanking God for the fact that he chose to make you part of his kingdom, when you deserved to live out your sinful days until death and hell, not thanking God for your baptism and for allowing you to hear the Word of God through which the Holy Spirit gave you the gift of faith, not thanking God for sending his Son to be born a human being to live a good, righteous, perfect and innocent life only to be rejected by his own people and put to death, to free you from your sins and to call you righteous for his sake, and not to thank God for his absolute guarantee that you will live forever with him in eternity in heaven with a glorified, indestructible, healthy body. This is the temptation you face, to live each day as if the treasures you have in this life are just yours because you are entitled to them, deserve them or work for them, rather than blessings from God. And, even more so that the treasures waiting for you in heaven will just be there for you even though you spend no time thanking God for them because you are too busy pouring your love and devotion into things that do not last and cannot save you from sin, death and hell.
Understanding what life looks like when you do not treasure the kingdom of heaven is a good defense against losing it, but the best defense to keep possession of the treasure of the kingdom of heaven is to be remined what wealth Jesus as your Savior brings to your life. God shares with you what his treasure is through Paul in Romans 8, 29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” These verses summarize the treasure of the Bible. This is the good news often referred to as the gospel. The kingdom of heaven is a treasure because God has always known you. He always planned for you to be a member of his kingdom. He always planned for you to hear the Word of God, to believe and be baptized, whether from your first days or later in life. He always planned for you to be called perfect because of what Jesus did for you by sacrificing his perfect life on the cross and rising from the dead, not by what you cannot do as a sinner. He always planned for you to be brought to heaven to live with him in eternity experiencing only joy, peace, love and acceptance among many brothers and sisters. And, he always wants you to read, watch or listen to his Word in the Bible to keep your faith in Jesus, so that the other things of this world do not pull you away from the true treasure of your Savior.
The treasure is yours because of what God has done for you, keep it as your possession as did the wisest man who ever lived. In 1 Kings 3, King Solomon had something given to him and God was pleased for him to keep it. Solomon was the son of King David and the heir to the throne of Israel. God appeared to him one night giving him the chance to ask for whatever he wanted God to give him and Solomon asked for wisdom to rule God’s people, and 1 Kings 3, 10 “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked.” The treasure Solomon kept even when faced with the treasures of an entire kingdom was his trust in God. Solomon did not ask for great material wealth, but the wisdom to rule God’s people. Solomon did rule Israel wisely bringing him many material blessings that tempted him, but in the last chapter of his book in Ecclesiastes 12, Solomon wrote, 8 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Everything is meaningless!” … 13… Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” Even with all the wealth a person could hope to have, Solomon kept the fear of God as his greatest possession. You are wise like Solomon because you know your greatest treasure lies with Jesus. When you feel pulled away from him by other things in your life, stop and return to the Bible. The Holy Spirit will keep your faith in Jesus strong when you are in the Word of God hearing again the true treasures stored up for you in heaven.
Organic is a choice in the grocery store, and it can also become an all-encompassing lifestyle that defines who a person is in all aspects of life until it is the one thing they live for. When you are tempted to leave Jesus behind for a calling to dedicate or define your life by something that keeps you away from being part of the kingdom of God and cannot do anything for you on Judgment Day, leave it in its place in the dirt and keep the Treasure in your possession. Amen.