He Obtained His Treasure

July 26, 2020, Candidate Vishal Paul

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Our sermon text is based on the Gospel lesson from today from St. Matthew -13:44–52. Let us pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to you, OLORD. Amen.

 

The thirteenth chapter from St. Matthew’s gospel is a collection of parables. And our Lord Jesus proclaims them in public in front of crowds. And to those who are not dismayed due to the divisions caused by His proclamation and stick with him, to these Jesus teaches in private, explaining the meaning of the parables.

 

The parables of the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl are parallel stories and they have been grouped together. Their purpose is to re-enforce and supplement the earlier parables taught by Jesus. These parables have been understood widely through the lens of discipleship and the cost that we should be willing to pay to obtain the kingdom of God. Although, the underlying principle for such an approach is based on the fact that those who seek such a treasure are motivated by grace to forego any and every treasure to obtain that one treasure, that is Christ.

 

However, we can also understand this parable by employing a Christ -centered approach. That is to say, Christ is the merchant who is seeking His treasure, His bride the Church. If we follow along with this interpretation it flips the parable on its head. If we take the time to carefully go through the parables, in them every time the story has one main character, invariably the character represents God or Christ. Our Lord explains that in the parable of the sower, He is the sower, the One who scatters the seed.

 

And from today’s reading, it becomes apparent that Jesus is the merchant who hid the treasure. And after having paid a full price, His precious blood; Jesus is the one who bought the field with the treasure, that is buried in it. For only He understands our true value, even if we are like rebellious children have gone astray.

 

Due to our rebellion, we suffer with a poor eyesight. Due to our untrained eyes, we CAANOT accurate value of our own self as well as our neighbor. Even without my prodding, you can conclude that we cannot properly evaluate the worth of all people. We should feel sorry about it, but such is the corruption of sin that we are incapable of recognizing a treasure even if it is staring us in the face. We might say we have imperfect or untrained eyes or if I was to express in less kindly manner- we have eyes that do not see and the ears that do not hear.

 

So, what makes us turn from our wicked ways? Only the Holy Spirit- He calls us by the gospel and enlightens us with His gifts and sanctifies us. And then we begin to acquire this wisdom that Christ Alone understands our worth. We can also see the distinct, plan of God to save us through Christ and begin to appreciate and grasp that in the parable the merchant is like Christ who with joy endures all things, paying for your sins and my sins on the cross.

 

Yes, it is correct to say that we have no cause for worth, apart from God. We are all lost. Without Christ we cannot see our own worth, let alone our neighbours, the recent demonstrations which have turned violent are ample proof of the inconsistency of our own valuation of people or the protection of their life and property.

 

We don’t have the eyes that can sift through to find the one True Treasure. Our eyes have grown dim due to sin that we cannot identify the priceless treasure. We are all in a state of indecision when it comes to making the right decision or choosing the right path- the Way to Jesus, and we can never do so by our own reason or strength. To give you an example, and it is no secret that many are suffering with indecision, uncertainty, loneliness, even depression brought about by isolation and social distancing. May the Lord have mercy on our weak and frail minds and body. Amen. I am sure many of you would agree that we cannot make good decisions under duress. There are questions that trouble us all, even the simple ones and we cannot be sure if the decisions we take are correct. Simple questions like:

Do I feel healthy to attend Church? What happens in the fall when schools re-open, should I send my children to school or homeschool? Is it ok to maintain social distance with family and when I meet my grandkids, should I hug or not hug, shake hands or not?

 

There are no easy answers and I for one cannot answer them for you, except to tell you that we can only live in our baptismal promise. The same waters included with God’s command and with His promises of life and salvation, are the waters in which Christ hid all of us, His treasure. Because we have been made new, we are free to carry out our vocations as best as we can, in the secure knowledge that in Christ we enjoy peace and comfort. Whatever happens, Christ has us firmly in His arms, and He promises never to leave us nor forsake us. In such trying circumstances simple questions to daily living are difficult to answer. Certainly, you can begin to appreciate, that we are unable to make appropriate judgment calls under duress. Now imagine making decisions for eternal life, when we have lived in a mortal sinful body from the moment of our conception. The duress of sin has forever dulled our senses, our eyes and ears, and our hearts are as cold as stone.

 

We need someone to exchange our heart of stone inside us. And from whence cometh my help? Our help is in the name of the Lord, and it comes from outside us. So, it follows, Christ is the merchant and we are the treasure He hid. And, having hidden us He joyfully went to redeem it by paying for it with not gold or silver but with His innocent blood, so that through it we may have life. The first sentence from today’s gospel lesson is, “

“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.”

Surprise, the merchant hid the treasure, and in Colossians 3, it is written for our benefit

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” ...and again in Romans 6

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?....

To what end we may ask...so that we may ‘walk in the newness of life.’ The newness of life is promised to us as well just as the Old Testament lesson reminded us, “The LORD your God has chosen {us} to be a people for his treasured possession.”

 

The next part of this parable talks about the merchant selling all that belongs to him. Since most things that God does seems like foolishness, it is easy to say that if such a treasure is found it should have been appropriated. Finders keepers, after all. This is our way, as we are blinded by our greed, but Christ does the opposite. Even if we do not function with greed and would like to pay a fair price. Just think of it, buying a single thing by losing everything one owns make no economic sense at all. That is just plain dumb. And yet, we know that the kingdom of God and even the cross is a foolishness.

 

But to those of us being saved, the foolishness of God made manifest in the cross, is God’s wisdom, the path to communion with God, both here and in eternity. The foolishness of our God, who sent Christ, who with great joy gave up everything, even emptying himself by taking the form of a servant, to rescue us, his most treasured possession. We, You and I are His great pearl, which he hid in himself and clothed in the waters of baptism, that he might present us acceptable to His Father. Even when we were yet sinners, Jesus shed His blood that cleansed us to become radiant treasures. Pearls of great value whom He foreknew and for whom did not spare His own Son.

 

Since, our Father sent His son to die for us, we can rest in peace that it is Christ who comes to rescue us. And In the parable, it is Christ who is like the merchant. Jesus alone who places great value on all us, His true inheritance, and His bride. And to all those called, He gives them life eternal through the water of baptism and in them we are hidden in Christ until the day of His coming, His treasured possession. In Jesus holy name. Amen.

 

Let us pray. Merciful Father, through Holy Baptism You have called us to be Your own treasured possession. Grant that we may be conformed to the image of your only begotten Son Jesus our Lord. Amen.