St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Gospel Is Your Greatest Possession

Sermon on Matthew 13: 44-46

Text: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

What is your most treasured possession? Have you ever thought about that question? Sometimes the answer to that question will depend on the age of the person. A child’s most treasured possession may be a blanket or a stuffed animal. They cannot go to sleep without it. The teenager may think that their cell phone is their most treasured possession. How else can you keep up with what’s going on with your friends, if you can’t text them or talk to them? A treasured possession might be a house or a vehicle. It might be an heirloom that was passed down to us. You could make a case for many of these things. This morning our Savior reminds us that THE GOSPEL IS YOUR GREATEST POSSESSION. With that in mind, may we always 1. Recognize Its Value and 2. Treasure Its Worth.

Jesus concludes his day of teaching with these parables. First, he says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Verse 44) It was not uncommon for the wealthy in Jesus’ day to divide their wealth into thirds. One third they would keep in money for carrying out business transactions. Another third they would invest in precious stones and jewels, which could easily be carried in the event of an advancing enemy army. The third part he would bury in the ground, hoping that one day he would come back and reclaim their property. Of course, such a person did not always come home, and his wealth would lie buried. Evidently, the person in our parable came upon such a treasure. He very likely was not even looking for it. However, when he stumbled across it, he immediately recognized its value.

We read a second scenario in verses 45&46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” This merchant was a wholesaler who dealt in pearls. He was used to seeing pearls, some of greater value than others. However, when he came upon this particular pearl, he realized that it was something special. Recognizing how precious and valuable and unique this pearl was, he gave up his search and gave up everything for this pearl. He recognized its great value.

In both cases, we have someone recognizing the value of something and realizing that this was what they wanted. What is this one thing that is so valuable? What is the meaning of the picture that Jesus is using? Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like” in both cases. This is the great treasure that belongs to the Christian. It only becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ. People stumble across this treasure in several different ways. For some, it is like the one who found the treasure in the field. They were not necessarily looking for it. God put it right in front of them. I would suppose this could describe many of us. We were infants when we were brought to faith through the washing of Baptism. This is something, by God’s grace, we have always known.

For others, there has been a searching. Since the Fall into sin, there has been an emptiness in all people, a spiritual vacuum. Mankind tries different things to try to fill the void. This is seen in the fact that there are all the religions that exist in the world. People are searching for something of great worth. The fact is that all these other ways all teach that you have to do something or be a certain way if you want to be accepted by your God. The more people try this path, the further they fall into despair, because they know they cannot live up to these expectations. Others try to fill the void by trying to ignore it and putting their energies into living life in the here and now. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” becomes their motto in life. This way of life ends up nowhere, at all. It leaves that person looking for something new.

How wonderful it is for this type of person, when they are brought to believe in Jesus as their Savior. All that they have been searching for is right there in front of them. The emptiness in their life is filled. Their life has meaning and a purpose and a goal. Once the gospel has been shown, there is no need to look elsewhere. That’s because the gospel offers what cannot be found elsewhere. Everything else pales in comparison.

May God help us always to recognize the value of this most precious possession he has given to us. Sometimes, we take this gift for granted. It has always been there. So, let us, for a few moments, remind ourselves of the value of this possession. It must start with taking an honest assessment of our lives. There are many places in the Scriptures where the mirror of God’s law stands, pointing out where we have failed to live as God demands we live. For example, we read in Ephesians 5:3&4, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.” When you take stock of your life and compare what is said here, how do you fare? There must not even be a hint of sexual immorality. What about that lustful thought that we had? There must not be a hint of greed. Am I always content with what God has given me? There must not be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking. Does my language always give glory to God? Have I been known to tell an off-color joke or story? When we hear these things, we might be tempted to dismiss them as just little imperfections. They really are not that serious, are they? Yet, listen to what it says after the list that we have been discussing: “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a person is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Ephesians 5:5) Is God serious about these things too? We would all have to answer that he is serious and that none of us has lived up to his standard of perfection. Because of this, we do not have any inheritance in the kingdom of God. We would be lost forever.

It is only after we have come to this realization that we can truly value the treasure that has been placed in front of us. It is only after we have been nailed to the wall by the law that we can see the beauty of the gospel message. Then, when we hear the story of what God, in his love, did for us, we rejoice. When we hear that Jesus left his throne in heaven and became a human being to live a perfect life in our place, we rejoice. When we hear that he went to the cross, where he suffered and died to pay for all our sins, our mouths stand open in awe. What amazing love Jesus showed in being willing to suffer for our sins and pay our debt! Who can imagine anything so spectacular? Then, we hear the message of Easter and the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, showing that he had won the victory. How can we keep from crying out in joy? Jesus lives! Jesus is my Savior! May God help us to always recognize the immeasurable value of this possession that he gives to us through the faith that he has created in our hearts!

The two men in the parables did the same thing when they found their treasures. Both sold all that they had so that they could have them. Because they saw the worth of them, they were willing to give up everything they had.

Are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to give up everything for the gospel message? I am not speaking of giving up our lives for the gospel. That is not something that has been asked of us in our country and we pray that the Lord would allow his gospel to continue to be freely proclaimed here. Yet am I willing to give my life to Jesus for all that he has done for me? It is so very tempting to put our Christianity on the back burner when it seems to be inconvenient. We want to blend in with the rest of the world. We want to have the fun that the rest of the world is having. The devil tricks us into thinking that our Christian faith is not so very valuable, but rather a hindrance to what we really would like to do.

Are we willing to give our lives for the gospel? Are we willing to use the time that God has given us to glorify him? Do we take the opportunities that God gives us to study his Word in church, in class and in the home? The devil tries to trick us into thinking that we are too busy. We need time for ourselves to do what we want to do. We are so busy during the week that we have no time to read and study God’s Word. Sundays are the only day when we can spend time with the family. I’m so tired when I come home from work that I just don’t have the energy to go to Bible Class.

The two men in the stories Jesus told saw the worth of the treasures that had been placed in front of them. They gave up everything they had to get them and held on to them. When we are reminded of what God has given to us, we must realize that there is nothing of greater value than our salvation. This most precious gift is given to us through faith. May God continue to strengthen our faith so that we might hold on to this most valuable gift.

When we began our sermon this morning, we talked about our most precious possessions. I would like to note something about those possessions. The objects changed. This is not the case with the most precious possession that you have been given. The gospel message does not change. Jesus Christ, who loved you yesterday, loves you today and will love you forever. We also note that what was most valuable to us as children does not have the same value to us as adults. This is not the case with this greatest possession that God has given us. Its value does not change over the years. The gift of salvation is just as priceless at whatever age we are, though our appreciation of the gift will grow as we look at it more and more. May God help us every day to go and take a long look at this most precious gift that he has given to us. May he help us to continue to recognize its value and treasure its worth. This is God coming to us in love and telling us that heaven in ours through Jesus Christ. It is yours through faith. This is your greatest possession. Amen.