TEXT: MATTHEW 13:44-52
ROMANS 8:28-39/DEUTERONOMY 7:6-9
FINDING THE TREASURE! PURCHASING THE PEARL!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To all those at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called as saints, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If ever there was a treasure it is Jesus Christ!  If ever there was a priceless pearl it is Jesus Christ!  Just a few of the names and titles the Holy Spirit ascribes to Him are Author of life (Acts 3:15), Bread of life (John 6:35), Creator (John 1:3), Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), Deliverer (Romans 11:26), Firstborn of the dead (Revelation 1:5), Holy and True (Revelation 3:7), King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15), Light of the world (John 8:12), Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8), Mighty God, Our Redemption, Our Sanctification, Our Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), Savior and (Ephesians 5:23) Son of God (John 1:49). 

TEXT: MATTHEW 13:44-52
ROMANS 8:28-39/DEUTERONOMY 7:6-9
FINDING THE TREASURE! PURCHASING THE PEARL!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To all those at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called as saints, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If ever there was a treasure it is Jesus Christ!  If ever there was a priceless pearl it is Jesus Christ!  Just a few of the names and titles the Holy Spirit ascribes to Him are Author of life (Acts 3:15), Bread of life (John 6:35), Creator (John 1:3), Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), Deliverer (Romans 11:26), Firstborn of the dead (Revelation 1:5), Holy and True (Revelation 3:7), King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15), Light of the world (John 8:12), Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8), Mighty God, Our Redemption, Our Sanctification, Our Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30), Savior and (Ephesians 5:23) Son of God (John 1:49). 


If ever there was a treasure, it is Jesus!  Scripture states that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:3).  Scripture speaks of those who preach Christ as having this treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).  The value of Jesus Christ to us sinners is infinitely greater than the value of any person or possession or possibility!  The Son of God is worth a total sell-out of all that we are and have in this brief life. 

The word for the “great value” of the pearl is used only one other time in Matthew.  There it describes the vial of very costly perfume used to anoint the head of Jesus to prepare Him for burial (26:6-13).  The “sheer joy” produced by the treasure in our text also fits the angelic message at His birth “I bring you glad tidings of great joy…” (Luke 2:10).  The hidden nature of the treasure also fits with God veiled in our human flesh and suffering, and now veiled in water, word, bread and wine.  Surely He is a hidden treasure.

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

However, the view of Jesus as the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value in these parables can place us in some terrible positions.  One position is that of thinking we’ve sacrificed and sold everything and acquired Christ (at least in our hearts and good intentions if not actually).  The other position would be the view that we have not and cannot make the purchase and therefore remain in poverty and death without the pearl of great value.

Have you sold all you have for Christ?  How about half?  How about 10% in generous cheerful giving through the years of your life?  How about a burning, not-to be denied, desire to return to Him a greater portion next year?  Have you put the pearl of Jesus and the promotion of His Gospel before every person and possession and possibility on this earth?  Have you completely sold out the wrong use of your tongue and your temper?  Have you completely abandoned worry and worldliness?  

Dear Christians – if we stop here – with Christ as the object of the search and the buy out - if there is not more to the parable than this, the treasure and the pearl can crush us and condemn us!   That’s why we must know that the setting of this text is full of hostility and conflict and the threat of death against Jesus.  He told the twelve that they would be hated and persecuted on His account (10:22, 23).  His detractors were calling Him a drunkard and a glutton and the prince of demons (10:25; 11:29; 12:24).  He reproached the cities where most of His miracles were done because they would not repent (11:20).  The Pharisees plotted to kill Him for healing on the Sabbath (12:14).  Aware of their plots He withdrew from the immediate danger (12:15).  In this tension some of them asked Jesus for a sign.  He responded that an evil and adulterous generation craves for signs (12:38, 39).  The heart of the people had become dull.  They refused to see the Messiah with their eyes and hear his Word with their ears.  They refused to be loved so  much as by God in the flesh come down to buy them back and heal them.  So Jesus spoke in parables saying “He who has ears let him hear.” 

In this climate of hostility and conflict Jesus repeatedly taught the difference He made between the righteous and the unrighteous.  He spoke of wheat and weeds growing together in the field of this world.  He spoke about the net of God’s Word gathering both good fish and bad fish to be separated on Judgment Day.  There will be a sorting out.  There is an eternal furnace of fire - a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth for the unrighteous.  There is an eternal place of shining like the sun in the kingdom of the Father for the righteous (13:42, 42).  God will separate the righteous and the unrighteous at the end of the age.

Jesus’ parable of the treasure and the pearl must be seen in this light – distinguishing between the righteous and the unrighteous.  He is teaching about the true Israel and the false Israel.  He is trying to melt hardened hearts!  The common thread between the parable of the treasure and the parable of the pearl is captured in this thought, “he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”  Beloved, this vocabulary is never used in Scripture to describe how men obtain the kingdom of heaven.  Rather Jesus explicitly denies that man can “sell” or “buy” his life for entrance into the kingdom (Matthew 18:25; 19:21, 26).

Furthermore if you and I are the MAN doing the seeking then Jesus would be the one doing the hiding.  The question really is this, “who is hiding from whom?”  Which of us sheep who turns to our own way ever went looking for the Good Shepherd?  The Holy Spirit reveals that no one seeks after God (Romans 3:11).  Even though He is the most priceless treasure worthy to be praised, we all hid from Him like Adam hid in the Garden.  God’s question – Adam, where are you? – tells us who is hiding from whom.  Even now we hide through reluctance in daily prayer – through absence from the risen Christ in the Divine Service or lack of attention to His presence when we are there.  God’s law reminds us that we’re not the searching-for-God-type by nature.

The crucial point is that verbs of “searching” and “finding” refer to God’s active search for sinful man.  The spiritual buying and selling also refer to God’s activity, not man’s activity.  When the searching is done and the treasure is found, the verbs describe the remarkable work of Christ who exchanged his life for ours (Matthew 20:28).  Both the act of buying us back and the price of our redemption are described in this way.  In fact the central note the heavenly host sings to the Lamb is this very truth – Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seal, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom…(Revelation 5:9).  The verbs of buying and selling are verbs that God does – for you!  The worst of debt He pays!  Your debt He pays!  Not with gold or silver.  He pays the bill with His blood so that He can possess forever the treasure of His forgiven people!

Fellow-Redeemed, fellow blood-bought sinners, you are the treasure, you are the pearl!  Jesus teaches us here how huge God’s love is for this world of dying sinners!  His death was payment for the whole field – for every human being!  He came down searching for us and out of joy for finding us He bought the whole world in His death.  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is how we know what love is – that Christ laid down His life for us.

Why does He love you?  Not because you were great or numerous.  The Lord set His love on you and chose you because the Lord loves you!  It’s all in Him!  We’re not used to being loved like that – so recklessly, so totally, so freely!  God is the doer of all the verbs and therefore you can be sure of your salvation.  It is God who works, God who calls, God who foreknows, God who elects, God who justifies, God who glorifies His church.  His searching, purchasing steadfast love means you can put to death all artificial efforts to pump up your self-esteem.  It means that God values you so highly that He withheld nothing to possess you for eternity!  He who shed His life-blood to make you His own has no plans of letting you go!  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?   

The treasure that Jesus finds and buys remains hidden to the world.  The church lives by grace through faith!  The fact that the Church is maligned and mocked reflects her lack of value in the world!  But the world is wrong!  So are we whenever we devalue the Church  and whenever we doubt god’s searching, redeeming love! 

He hasn’t stop seeing you as His beloved treasure - since the day He finished the world’s redemption on the cross or since He breathed out Easter peace and forgiveness on the day of His resurrection or since the day He baptized you into His death covering you with Himself or on this day as He comes feed and forgive you.  If ever there was treasure to Him– it is you!  If ever there was a priceless pearl, it is you!  You are His treasured possession, His holy people, His chosen ones, His spotless Bride. 

You give the Lord great joy!  The word used for “joy” in our text means the joy of faith.  It is not the same as fluctuating and fleeting external happiness.  It is rather confidence in God’s grace seen even in deep suffering and conflict.  Such were the circumstances for Jesus amid the conflict and rejection He faced as He taught these parables!  But He pressed on to posses the treasure!  He pressed on to buy back you and every sinner you know!   For the joy set before Him He endured the cross scorning its shame and is seated at the right hand of God…

From that position of total authority He is present for you now with His searching, embracing, abiding love!  Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  God help us to rightly treasure Him who so treasures us!  AMEN.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a