Monday, July 28, 2014

Buried Treasure

44 "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.
45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 "Have you understood all these things?" They said to him, "Yes." 52 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." (Matthew 13: 44-52)
“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.” The parable opens the imagination. Treasure hunting is a dream that doesn’t die easily. Treasure Island, Indiana Jones movies, stories of adventure like the Hobbit capture a young man’s soul. Every once in a while a person finds treasure that makes news, like that man who found the Saxon hoard in England a few years ago. Metal detectors fall off the shelves. Men buy old gold mines. A guy pours over old maps and starts Jeeping up old mule cart trails. Then there are the garage and yard sales, Saturday strolls through antique shops, pawn shops and thrift stores. And who doesn’t like those treasure hunting T.V. shows, Antiques Roadshow, Storage Wars, The Prospectors on the Weather Channel, American Pickers. And when we get lucky enough to find a treasure cheap we snatch up the deal, buy the field and jump for joy. We brag about it to friends, and like old scribes trained for the kingdom of heaven, we pull the treasures new and old out for our friends and family to see when they visit.
Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to such a treasure buried in a field, and when it is discovered a man is willing to sell all he has to possess it. A person might wonder how the treasure comes to get buried in the first place, like that old antique you forgot you had until your grandkids started playing in the attic and discover it once again. Sunday after Sunday you go to church. You were raised with the gospel and perhaps you took it for granted. The same old motions and it seems so irrelevant at times. For so many it seems it is sometime between confirmation and college, and they quit going to church altogether. Perhaps they give it some thought again when the kids come. We want to raise them to be good little boys and girls. And the law always seems to be more relevant. The end game in all of this is the church loses focus on the gospel. The forgiveness of sins, Christ’s death and resurrection, life everlasting gets switched out for Aesop’s Fables. The gospel gets buried in a field of life coaching and lessons for a happy marriage, parenting techniques, and business ethics. Yes, it is easy for the gospel to become that treasure that gets buried in your life, even in the life of the church.
But it truly is a treasure, the kingdom of heaven. We have experienced it in our own lives so often, directly and indirectly through friends. Perhaps for a time the gospel was that forgotten treasure in our lives, buried in the field. At first life was going well enough without Christ or his body the church. We drifted off, enjoyed weekends at the lake, and at summer cabins with family. Perhaps we just slept in after late nights with friends. Others, perhaps always went to church but missed the gospel for so many life lessons. But there was still an emptiness in the soul. You couldn’t put your finger on it. Then the gospel reaches into your heart in the midst of a failing marriage, mounting pressures at work, the inevitable frustrations of parenthood, when all the life lessons you thought so relevant fail. Just then when you think you don’t measure up at all, weak and sinful, you hear of Christ dying for sinners, justifying the ungodly, using the weak to shame the strong, the foolish to shame the wise, the love of Christ who shed his blood for you, and yes then it becomes a treasure for which a man is willing to do great and wonderful things. The joy of it all possesses you, you give up your Sunday mornings to share your treasure with others here in the midst of the sanctuary you built with your own effort, in the church you support with your money, the time you give to teach Sunday School and to serve on the council, LWML meetings and Vacation Bible School, because now the gospel is a treasure you want to share with your kids, your family, your community.

Yes, because the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that was buried in a field, which a man found and covered up and then in his joy went and sold all he had, to go and buy the field.  Yes and this is precisely what Jesus did when he found you, when finding you buried in a field of sin and death, weak and ungodly, he set aside all that he had, he counted equality with God  not a thing to be grasped,  and took upon himself the form of a servant, became a man to share our flesh and blood, to ransom you from sin, death and the power of the devil not with gold or silver but with all that he had,  his holy precious blood, his innocent suffering and death that he could bury us again through baptism into his death, and raise us  to the glory of the Father to walk in the newness of life and serve him in his kingdom with everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, pulling out the treasures of the kingdom new and old for all to see. 

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