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Friday, July 15, 2016

Is Anything Worth Everything?

Is Anything Worth Everything?

Jesus began his preaching in the city of Capernaum on the banks of the Sea of Galilee.  And He began his preaching with these words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  (Matthew 4:17) Our pastor says that the kingdom of heaven is the realm where God’s will is done.  And when Jesus taught his followers the Lord’s prayer he included these words: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) Jesus was saying that this realm or place was near, even in their (our) midst, waiting to be discovered.  We see the place where God’s will is done when someone stands up for what is right in the face of criticism.  Or when love conquers hate.

Jesus tells the listening crowd several stories or parables about the kingdom of heaven, or the realm where God’s will is done.  He says: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.  When a person finds it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found a pearl of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”  (Matthew 13:44-46)   

These two parables of Jesus tell us that the kingdom of heaven is worth everything!  The merchant sold everything he had to purchase the pearl.  And the man who found the treasure in the field sold all he had to purchase the field so he could have the treasure.  We are called to seek and search.  To look for what God is doing in the world and join in.  Follow Christ by doing things that make for peace and love and help reach out to the poor. The kingdom of heaven is light and life and love and peace and joy.  It is a treasure, a pearl of great price that is worth everything we have and much more. Jesus was calling people then and He is calling us now to repent and give Him all that we are and all that we have. 

The gospel is the field where the treasure is hidden.  And Jesus Christ is the true Treasure: in Him there is eternal life. The treasure is not hidden in an enclosed garden for a select few to find but it is hidden out in an open field for all to come and find.  Whatever treasures we find are all our own.  The Bible is the Word of God and those who would search the scriptures in the Bible can find Christ and eternal life. (John 5:39)

We humans here on earth are busy searching for pearls. One pearl would be riches, another would be honor, and another would be learning and higher education.  We pursue happiness and pleasure, fame and excitement. There are counterfeit pearls out there that we can chase after. But Jesus Christ is the only Pearl of great price.  When we have found Him, we have enough to make us joyful forever.  He covers us with His righteousness and takes away our sins. A true Christian is a spiritual merchant, that seeks and finds this Pearl of great price.  He or she desires to be spiritually rich.  But those who would have a saving interest in Christ, must be willing to pay everything they have for Him and leave all to follow Him.

And then Jesus gives us a third parable about the kingdom of heaven.  This time He compares the kingdom of heaven to nets cast into the sea.  Here is what e said”HeHHe He said: “Once again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the sea and caught all kinds of fish.  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.  This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  (Matthew 13:47-50)

Here in Jesus’ parable we find that the world is the vast sea.  And the preaching of the gospel is the casting of the nets into the sea to catch fish. This net gathers some good edible fish and some inedible fish, along with seaweed and junk.  In the visible church there are some inedible fish along with the good edible fish. The net is still filling now and it is not known yet what is in it.  The fishermen themselves cannot always distinguish the good from the bad.  But the time is coming when the net will be completely full and drawn in to the shore. And when that time arrives, there shall be a separation between the good and the bad that were gathered in it. 

Many Christian today do not like to talk about hell and judgment!  We talk about God’s grace and His love for us.  But we leave out God’s justice and judgment. We live in a world where there is good and evil.  And God is a God of justice. In order to have justice we have to have judgment. – courts, policemen, judges, prisons. When crimes are committed there must be some form of judgment.  If we did not deal with crime or have laws protecting citizens from robbers, murderer and terrorists, our society would crumble. 

Jesus Christ went about preaching about God’s grace and love, but He also preached about hell and judgment.  In fact He mentioned judgment and hell many times in his sermons. In this parable we are reading today, Jesus tells us the time will come when the nets will be full.  And the end of the age will be here. The good will be separated from the bad. And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Jesus began his ministry inviting everyone into the kingdom of heaven.  God loves and wants them all. There would be a price to pay, but what is everlasting life worth? Heaven we are told in Scripture is a place where there will be no death, no sin, no sorrow or crying, a place of life and love and peace.  If we could bring our sins along into heaven, it wouldn’t be heaven anymore, would it?

 So Scripture says sin cannot enter heaven.  And we cannot get rid of our sin by ourselves.  That is one of the reasons the Treasure hidden in the field or the Pearl of great price is so valuable.  Christ does for us what we can never do for ourselves.  In Christ we are made sinless and are able to enter the kingdom of heaven. At the end of the age the angels will throw us over on the pile of good fish.  We won’t be left outside. I think that great judgment day will be here sooner than we think.  If we have searched for and found the Treasure or purchased the Pearl of great price we will be taken care of on that final day at the end of the age.     

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