Parable of the Hidden Treasure: Seventh Sunday After Pentecost - Matthew 13: 44-52 / Pastor Ted Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Matthew 13: 44-52 / Seventh Sunday After Pentecost / July 27th 2014 / Parable of the 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.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all these things?”
They said to Him, “Yes.” And He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. For the last number of weeks we've been listening to the parables of Jesus. One after another they have been dropped into our laps, they have been tossed at our ears, over and over again Jesus has said "He who has ears, let him hear."
For a moment let's go back to what was happening just before Jesus started telling these parables in the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of Matthew tells us, that, "While He was still speaking to the people, behold, [Jesus'] mother and His brothers stood outside, asking to speak to Him. But [Jesus] replied to the man who [relayed their request to] Him, “Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, [Jesus] said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
The question then is this, 'who are these folks gathered around Jesus, these people who are about to hear all these parables?' Earlier in Matthews Gospel Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." So these people at Jesus' feet must be heavy laden, they must be labourers. Some of them were fishermen, Peter, James and John - fishing is back breaking labour. Some of them were white collar types, Matthew himself was a tax collector. As Matthew tells it, in his Gospel, after Jesus said "follow Me," to Matthew, Matthew then found himself "reclined at table [with Jesus] in [a] house, [and] behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and His disciples." Matthew says that "when the Pharisees saw this, they said to [Jesus'] disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when [Jesus] heard [them ask this], He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
'Who then were gathered around Jesus to hear His parables?' Sinners, heavy laden, back broken sinners. Rich tax collector sinners and poor fishermen sinners. These are the ones of whom Jesus says they “are ... My brother and sister and mother.” In this group are "Peter, and Andrew [Peter's] brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John [James'] brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him." Apart from Judas we think of these men as heroes of the faith and yet at one and the same time they are sinners in need of redemption. And now here you are too, gathered around Jesus to hear Him tell you these parables, and Jesus' words ring in your ears as He says, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." He who has ears, let him hear."
Today we'll focus on the first of today's parable, Here it is again,
“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."
Thinking on this, Edward - a painter friend of mine - said that he couldn’t get around the idea of the field being a cemetery, [a grave yard], with its scattered stones, and the Man (being, not you or I, but Christ Jesus), that the Man coming to claim His hidden treasure, [is Jesus]. The parable says that “For joy, He sold all He had and bought that field.” Edward commented that "Holy Scripture sometimes contains the most understated truths." When it says that He sold “All he had,” Looking at the Man in the parable as Jesus, the “All he had” was His very life, given for us, “Not with gold or silver,” as we are told, “but with His holy, precious blood.” This is how Jesus buys the field, the book of Hebrews says that Jesus "for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." In the creed we follow this up by confessing "From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead."
So there He stands in the field, in that cemetery, in that grave yard, and He pulls out a treasure with His mighty nail pierced hands. What would this Man pull out of the ground in a cemetery but a casket, a coffin: Edward, this painter friend of mine, painted this picture of the parable, in the painting it is clearly Jesus who is pulling His treasure out of the field, This painting illustrates just how much we contribute to salvation -- nothing. We were dead. Not only were we dead, but we were dead in our trespasses. Think on this, remember Paul's words to the Ephesians, "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."
Jesus looks at the sinners gathered around Him and calls them His "brother and sister and mother;" They are a treasure to Him, because He will die for them, they are family to Him, they are friends to Him. Saint John, one of those sinners who's gathered to hear these parables, saint John the fisherman later recounts Jesus' words, words Jesus speaks about Himself, as He says, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." Psalm 116 says "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints." Who is the precious treasure buried in the field? You are, you are precious because of Jesus' precious blood shed for you, washed over you in your baptism, even in your death you are a treasure to Him, because He loves you: He loves you with every burse He took, with every stripe of the whip, with every chastisement, every thorn and stroke of the nail - and with His wounds [you] are healed. His love for you is "the same yesterday and today and forever." He loved you as He told this parable, He loved you as He hung dying for you on the Cross, He loved you as He lay dead in the tomb, He loved you on that first Easter Morning, He loves you as you sit in the pew today, as you listen to these words wherever they find you, as you come to the rail to receive His crucified and risen body and blood with the bread and the wine for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your soul; He loves you as you lay dead in your grave, He loves you forever - you are His treasured possession, even your death will be precious in His sight because He loves you and you are His.
The English language helps us see this picture -- the words “coffin” and “casket” are derived from the same words that are used for containers of wealth. 'His coffers are full of Gold,' 'His casks are full of the finest of wines,'coffers and casks are used to inter wealth, used to keep treasures. In your casket, in your coffin, in your urn you lay, a baptized child of God, a sheep in the Good Shepherd's sheepfold, The Merchant's pearl of great value, the Sower's wheat which will shine like the sun when it is harvested: There you lay a buried treasure in the Man's field bought by selling all that He has; yes there you lay a sinner of Jesus' own redeeming, forgiven, saved and redeemed by grace - God's treasures and man's treasures are not the same and while you can't take earthly treasures like cash and cars and houses and bricks of gold with you, Jesus takes you, His treasure, with Him "for if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His." Jesus says "I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also."
"What points to Christ’s love for us is not only His payment for our sins through His personal sacrifice, but also the reality of what He considers valuable. He treasures not gold or silver, but the sinful, the lost, the dregs of humanity, the rotting, the forgotten, the discarded for convenience, the destroyed by design, the consumed by disease, ... the consumed by [sorrow and by] woe. This mess of ugliness He treasures. [it is precious to Him - because He has redeemed it]. [Remember Jesus says "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."] Not only did Christ Jesus give His all for [you], but He also enfolds [you] in His arms and holds [you] to His [Himself]. This is what the kingdom of heaven is like." "He who has ears, let him hear." Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Matthew 12:46-50
 Matthew 11:28
 Matthew 9:10-13
 Matthew 10:2-4
 1 Peter 1:19
 Hebrews 12:2
 Apostle's Creed.
 Ephesians 2:4-8
 John 15:13
 Psalm 116:15
 Romans 6:1-11
 Isaiah 53:5
 Hebrews 13:8
 Romans 6:5
 John 14:3