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Faithlife

The Kingdom of Heaven is the Greatest Treasure

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It’s the stuff of legends and stories.  A young man devotes his entire life to traveling the world.  He spends every day searching high and low for something he believes exists but can’t prove.  And just when he’s about to give up, he finds it.  The most beautiful treasure, the greatest and most valuable object he’s ever seen.  Kid’s dream of it, adults wish that they could have done it.  We have before us a story of a treasure hunt in our Gospel lesson.  But we are told that it is not gold or silver that is the greatest treasure.  Instead, Jesus tells us that The kingdom of heaven is the greatest treasure. He tells us that this treasure is worth more than anything, and that it is meant to be shared.

Jesus had just finished a long day.  He had spent the whole day in a boat sharing parables to the large crowds on the shore.  The crowds had all gone home and Jesus was left alone with his disciples.  Despite any exhaustion Jesus may have been feeling, he felt it was important to instruct those who would be spreading the Gospel to all corners of the world.  Jesus knew that he would soon perform amazing miracles with fish and bread as a sign of his divine nature.  He knew that the people of Israel would still not accept him as their Savior but would seek to make him a “bread king.”  Jesus knew that the Israelites only wanted Jesus to bring them earthly happiness.  Our Savior felt that it was important he teach his disciples the great worth of the kingdom of heaven.  He wanted them to know that the Gospel was worth far more than anything the world had to offer.

            For that reason, Jesus told his disciples this parable.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  Our Savior compares the kingdom of heaven to one of the finest treasures of his day.  Pearls were highly treasured in the early first century.  In the first century, pearls were often referred to as a treasure first of all things of value. 

            Jesus told his disciples a parable about a merchant who was spending his entire life looking for one thing.  While Jesus doesn’t include a lot of detail in this parable, its easy to picture what he’s saying.  Jesus’ parable was about a man who set out to travel the world in search of one treasure.  Its easy to imagine a young man spending years at sea and land leaving no rock unturned until he found this amazing pearl. 

            When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.  The merchant saw this pearl as being so valuable that he considered it worth more than all he already owned.  The merchant saw that all of his current possessions paled in comparison to this one beautiful pearl.  He knew that this pearl was worth more than anything and he just had to own it.

            Imagine that Jesus were here today telling us this parable.  Don’t we have to ask ourselves what we consider most valuable?  Each one of us here are all merchants.  We are searching for our very own treasure.  What is it that you and I search for?  Are we spending our lives searching for a treasure that may be shiny or green?  Do we spend our time searching for wealth so that we can own whatever we want?  Or maybe we spend our time searching for fame. 

We live in a country that just celebrated its birthday.  America is founded on a document that claims all people have the freedom to the pursuit of happiness.  But our human nature seeks happiness in all the wrong places.  We look for happiness in money; we try to find happiness in fame.  As Americans we have been blessed with so much, and yet we are all too often blind as to where happiness is truly found.  The things of this world cannot truly bring us happiness.  They may bring us temporary joys, but they are only temporary.  The things of this world are limited to the world.  They are left behind when we die.  They cannot provide the joy that we truly need and desire – the joy of everlasting life.  If the treasures we consider worth more than anything are the things of this life, then the life hereafter will be eternal death in the eternal fires of hell.

            There is a treasure worth far more the things of this life.  It is a treasure that Jesus compares to a fine pearl.  The fine pearl, he says, is the kingdom of heaven.  When Christ speaks of the kingdom of heaven, he is speaking of God’s saving work given to mankind through the gospel.  The kingdom of heaven is the finest treasure that anyone could ever have or find.  Unlike the treasures of this life, the kingdom of heaven is an eternal treasure.  It is meant for both this life and also the life to come.  This greatest treasure brings us pure joy.  It brings us the joy of knowing that all our sins have been forgiven.  The kingdom of heaven gives us the joy of knowing that God’s favor is on us.

            What makes the kingdom of heaven worth more than anything is how it was purchased.  Jesus Christ, the very same person telling us this parable, bought the kingdom of heaven for us.  He came down to earth to live the perfect life.  He came down to earth to purchase the kingdom of heaven with his very blood.  Through his life and death Jesus won for us the forgiveness of sins and life eternal.  Through his life and death he purchased for us the kingdom of heaven.  What was purchased by our Savior was also given to us through his very own words.  The kingdom of heaven, purchased through the blood of Christ, is also given to us through the words of Christ himself.  Each one of us here has been given the kingdom of heaven through the gospel written as found in the Bible.

            This treasure, this fine pearl, is worth far more than anything.  Since we have a treasure worth more than anything, we should share the attitude of the pearl merchant.  We have been given the greatest gift possible.  Shouldn’t our attitude be one that considers the kingdom of heaven worth far more than anything else we may have?  That is not to say that the possessions we have been given in this life are worthless pieces of garbage.  Instead, we look at our blessings in the light of the kingdom of heaven.  All our earthly possessions are blessings from God.  As we learned earlier, part of having the treasure of the kingdom of heaven means that we possess the favor of God.  Out of his favor, he gives us gifts and blessings just like a father gives his children gifts. 

            However, we also realize that our earthly possessions are just that.  They are gifts meant to make our lives here on earth enjoyable and pleasurable.  They are meant to enhance our lives, not to make up our lives.  Without the treasure of the kingdom of heaven these earthly blessings are worthless.  Our earthly blessings pale in comparison to our heavenly treasure.  They cannot give us the joy of eternal life that the kingdom of heaven brings us.  Compared to the treasure of the kingdom of heaven, our earthly possessions are expendable gifts.  We see these blessings as ways to share the kingdom of heaven with others!  It is for that reason that Jesus tells us that the greatest treasure is one that is meant to be shared.

            Jesus continued to share with his disciples beautiful images of what the kingdom of heaven was like.  He compared the kingdom of heaven to an owner of a house.  This owner brought both old and new treasures out of his storeroom to share with his guests.  Imagine an owner of a large house and in that house is a collection of rare treasures.  And this owner goes into his collection and brings out some of his rarest and most expensive treasures and shares them with his guests.  Jesus told his disciples that a teacher of the law is like that owner.  In the first century, when someone spoke of a “teacher of the law” they usually meant the spiritual leaders of Israel.  When Jesus speaks of a “teacher of the law” here he was speaking about those individuals who would be entrusted to care for the New Testament church.  This teacher of the law is one that Jesus says has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven.  This teacher of the law has spent his time studying to Word of God.

            It’s true that Jesus singles is speaking specifically about the leaders of the Christian Church in this short parable.  Remember who he was speaking to.  He was telling these parables to those who were to spread the Gospel throughout the whole world.  But that doesn’t mean that the leaders of the church are the only ones with storerooms filled with treasure.  All Christians have their own storeroom.  Remember what Jesus said in the first parables?  All Christians have the greatest treasure of all.  They all have that fine pearl that is kingdom of heaven. 

Christ speaks specifically about the leaders of the church because of their unique position.  These leaders of the church, today we call them pastors, have the unique joy and responsibility of bringing out of their storerooms both old and new treasures.  Pastors have that wonderful opportunity of a life dedicated to the study of God’s Word.  Through this study of God’s Word, through constant and diligent study of the very words of God, the pastor’s storeroom becomes stockpiled with more and more treasures.  Through his study, the Holy Spirit opens the truths of God’s Word and causes the pastor to grow in his knowledge and faith. 

The pastor’s job is not to increase his storeroom in order that he can have all those treasures for himself.  Instead he increases his treasure room in order that he might share the truths of God’s Word with the members of his congregation and with those he comes in contact with.  A pastor has the opportunity to share both the well-known and beloved truths of God’s word as well as those lesser known truths.  He has the wonderful opportunity to share stories such as Abraham and Isaac, God’s grace as shown in the deliverance from Egypt, and the life of Christ.  He also has the wonderful opportunity to share the love of God shown in truths like predestination or the roles of men and women.  As he brings out these new and old treasures, he has the wonderful opportunity to lead others to the great pearl of the kingdom of heaven. 

            Pastors are a wonderful blessing to all Christians.  It is their wonderful job, their unique opportunity, to spend their whole life bringing the treasures found in Scripture to all Christians.  All Christians can, and do, receive the treasure of the Gospel from their own study of God’s Word.  It is a great blessing for Christians everywhere to have those who have been led to dedicate their entire life to discovering and sharing the truths of the Bible.  What a wonderful sign of God’s love!  God loved each and every one of us that he made sure that Christians have those who spend their entire life sharing God’s Word!

            The treasure hunt is over!  You and I have all been given the greatest treasure.  We have been given the beautiful pearl that is the kingdom of heaven.  This beautiful pearl has been purchase for us through the life and death of Jesus Christ.  In the kingdom of heaven we have been given the forgiveness of sins.  We have joy in knowing that we are looking forward to life eternal.  And we have been given the wonderful gift of pastors who share with us those treasure found in God’s Word.  We do have the greatest treasure of all – the kingdom of heaven!

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