Hello friends, this will be a twofer with the meditations tonight but none next week, my family is on a stay-cation and enjoying some quality family time. God Bless!
The Gospel lesson today in Matthew 13 has been known primarily as a discipleship lesson, teaching us the true cost of discipleship and following Jesus.
Where the kingdom of Heaven is like, salvation and having a relationship with Jesus is like, a treasure hidden in a field and a person goes and sells all that they have and buys the whole field. Or a person finds a pearl of great value and sells all that they have, all of their other pearls, just to have it.
When you think about it, it makes sense. Finding heaven, paradise and glory eternal with God, healing, hope, forgiveness, love everlasting, restoration and peace. If you found that in a field who wouldn’t want to buy that? In fact, we hear this message time and again, do this for God and He will reward you. But I’m curious if we place ourselves into the story for a minute and pretend we are the person trying to buy the treasure hidden in the field I wonder if that conversation with the salesperson might sound something like this:
(customer) I really want it. Have to have it. Pay anything for it.
(salesperson) It’ll cost you. You sure you can pay that price?
(customer) Yup, just tell me, how much is it?
(salesperson) It’ll cost you everything you’ve got.
(customer) Seriously? Okay, look here is my wallet, here is a check for what’s left in my bank account and here is any savings I have.
(salesperson) It’s not enough.
(Customer) You’re kidding, okay, here’s the key to my house, here’s the keys to the car and the van.
(salesperson) It’s still not enough.
(customer) Alright, here is a contract for all of my future earnings, anything I might earn, you can have it all.
(salesperson) Well, that sounds like a lot, but you still have more. This treasure can’t just be for anyone. It is too precious, too pure and too beautiful. If someone doesn’t share those same qualities how could I ever sell it to them? By being in someone’s presence that is impure it would contaminate the purity of the treasure.
(customer) All right, I said, here are my words and my actions. Anything and everything I do and say I’m selling to you.
(salesperson) You can’t promise that, besides what about your thoughts, thoughts are what make words and actions come round.
(customer) Fine, have it all, I’ve got nothing left to sell.
(salesperson) Can’t, its not enough. This treasure is priceless and pure and perfect, what you are trying to sell, you can’t (thoughts, words, and actions) and what you can sell isn’t enough, plus I can’t let something this pure be with someone so impure, it just simply wouldn’t work. I simply can’t sell it to you.
So, the person goes away despairing because there is nothing they can do to purchase that precious treasure. There is a truth in this parable that confronts us with our own inability. That precious treasure in the field: heaven, paradise, glory eternal with God, healing, hope, forgiveness, love everlasting, restoration and peace. We cannot buy that, there is no amount of money that can buy the peace that comes from a forgiven conscience. No amount of good works can make someone able to be good enough to be holy as the Lord your God is holy. We’re just not the same sort of stuff, heaven and us, because of our sin.
We have to kind of get that thought into our heads. Sometimes we have this sense of entitlement when it comes to a relationship with God, like we deserve it. Like nothing bad could ever happen to us eternally. Like we deserve heaven, we deserve God. It doesn’t really matter how I live or what I do, if I’m in worship or even if I have an active relationship with God because I deserve it. But when we think that, we don’t take seriously how lost, broken and just simply dead spiritually apart from the love of God we are. Scripture passages like Romans 3:11-19 remind us:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.
So it looks like all is lost, we can try to wrangle, finagle, demand, threaten, assume, try to have things our own way, but that doesn’t change the way that precious treasure is. So what’s the point of this parable then, is it just meant to make us despair or bang our head against the wall, keep trying with no hope of succeeding? Well, let’s go back to that conversation and see what happens next when the person comes back.
(customer) Jesus, what are you doing here!?
(Jesus) I heard you were trying to buy this precious treasure.
(customer) I am, but I can’t, the salesperson says I will never have enough to sell and even if I did I can’t be the kind person who can have that treasure.
(Jesus) They’re right, it can’t work that way. Like they say, you can’t buy your way into
(customer) What do you mean, Jesus?
(Jesus) Well, you’re looking at this treasure thing all wrong. You’re my precious treasure, you’re my pearl of great value.
(customer) Really, I don’t get it???
(Jesus) You’ve been spending all of this time trying to buy something you can never buy, trying to do this all on your own power. But you’re forgetting the way I see things; You are my precious treasure, my creation, the work of God’s hands, you are beloved. Even though you were lost in the field, I’m the one who sought and found you. I’m the one who sold heaven and gave it all away so I could be with you. I’m the one that gave everything, even death upon the cross, so you could be mine.
(customer) I don’t have any words to say how thankful I am but maybe I’m starting to understand what it all means after all.
The whole point of this parable is two-fold. First to reveal to us our own fruitless pride and how we think we deserve heaven or we can somehow get it by our own power. In revealing that pride, it also shows it for what it is, useless and pointless. We don’t deserve heaven and we can’t buy our way into it.
Heaven must be given and in the giving makes us into people who can receive heaven in faith. Because of God’s great love for us faith makes us into the sort of person who can be in Heaven. Not because of what we have done but because of what Jesus has done for us.
This still will cost us everything, but not in the same way, this is not putting a price tag on heaven, which you can never do, instead because heaven has already been given to us, we respond in faith, offering what we have in our broken and incomplete way to God in thanksgiving and for His use in redeeming the world.