August 13, 2017

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit

The First Lesson; 1 Kings 3:5-12

The Second Lesson; Romans 8:28-30

Sermon Text; Matthew 13:44-52

The past couple of weeks we have been looking at Matthew, chapter 13. Two weeks ago, when I was in Cincinnati, Ohio with the high school youth, Pastor Bartels preached on the parable, “The Sower and the Seed”, which was the beginning of Matthew, chapter 13. Last week, Sunday, when I was on vacation, Pastor Bartels preached on the middle of Matthew, chapter 13, which was the parable, “The Weeds among the Wheat”.

In both of those opportunities, Jesus was preaching to a big group of people. It was the disciples who wanted an explanation of the parable of “The Weeds among the Wheat”. In a very private setting, Jesus explained that to them.

After that explanation, He shared with them four more parables in that very private setting. That is the portion of scripture I am sharing from God's Word. That begins at Matthew, chapter 13, beginning at verse 44. Here Jesus is teaching this to the disciples. We read in Jesus' name:

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid again. In his joy, he goes away and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls. When he found one very valuable pearl, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When the net was filled, they pulled it onto the shore. They sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but threw the bad ones away. That is how it will be at the end of the world. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous who are among them. And they will throw the wicked into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus said to them, “Did you understand all these things?”

They answered Him, “Yes.”

He said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained as a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure both new things and old things.”

These are your words Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


So, remember a parable is an earthly story, with a heavenly meaning. In this very private setting, Jesus was teaching His disciples, using these four parables. I am going to walk through each parable, and talk about each one individually, here.

       -The first is about the man who found that treasure that was buried in the field. He reburied it. He sold all of his possessions, and he went to buy that field.

Back in Jesus' day, they didn't have banks like we have today. People didn't have safes in their homes like we have today. And so, generally this is what people would do with their possessions.

With a third of their possessions, they would keep it in cash so they could make interactions on a very quick basis.

With another third of their possessions, they would purchase stones, or precious jewels so that if they needed to, they could take them quickly, if they were invaded by another country.

With the last third of their possessions, they would bury it in the ground, somewhere. Sometimes, they wouldn't even tell their family members where they had buried those things. Well, if that person died, no one would know where that treasure was buried. And so, sometimes it happened where a person would stumble across a treasure that was buried in a field!

Back in the 1880's there was a black smith by the name of John Leavitt who traveled out to New Mexico in search of treasures. Pretty quickly he found a little bit of silver. He sold all of his possessions so that he could buy that tract of land where he had found that silver. History tells us that tract of land he bought probably had the biggest cache of silver the world has ever known - 2.5 million ounces of silver! Now, silver back in those days was going for about one dollar an ounce. Today it goes for about $17.00 an ounce. That is a pretty awesome treasure he came across! He sold everything he had so that he could have that precious treasure.

Well, Jesus is talking about a treasure this man found, hidden in a field. It was so precious to him that he sold everything. Jesus is talking about people in this life who are so overjoyed when they are reminded of the greatest treasure we have, or their first learning about the greatest treasure we have in life. Consider a few of these examples from scripture.

King David is a good example. After he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, and after he had committed murder, killing Bathsheba's husband Uriah, God sent the prophet Nathan to him, to remind him of his sins. After King David was condemned of his sin, the prophet Nathan reminded King David of the precious treasure he had in the coming Messiah. David was filled with joy, because of that precious treasure he had forgotten about, that he needed to be reminded of. For the rest of his life, he clung to that precious treasure that the Messiah was coming, who would take away his sin, and give him everlasting life in Heaven. He wrote about that in Psalm 51.

“Create in me a clean heart O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Zacchaeus, in The New Testament, is another good example. Jesus told Zacchaeus, “Zacchaeus I am coming to your house today, to eat with you.”

The people around Jesus said, “You are going to eat with a sinner? What are you doing?”

What was Zacchaeus' response? He was a tax collector. He had cheated people out of money for his whole life. He said, “Jesus, I am so overjoyed that I am going to sell my possessions. I am going to give back to people whom I have cheated.”

Why? Because he knew the treasure he now had in Jesus.

Or consider the sinful woman who washed Jesus' feet. Again, the people were looking at Jesus, “You are letting that sinful woman touch your feet?”

She so loved the treasure she was told about, that she couldn't help but cling to that precious treasure.

It was just like the parable Jesus is telling today. People who stumble across a treasure in life, and once they realize what they have, they are willing to give up everything so that they can have that precious treasure.

Jesus is that treasure.

       -In the second parable Jesus tells it is the parable of the merchant who is seeking after a fine pearl. When he finds it, he sells everything he has, so he can have that great treasure, that fine pearl.

In the 1800's, right around the turn of the century, there was a boy who was fishing in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was spear fishing, and he missed a fish, but his spear hit a shiny rock. He brought that shiny rock home to his dad. His dad took that shiny rock in to the jeweler in town. The dad thought it was just a big, 17 pound, shiny rock. When the jeweler saw it, he knew exactly what he was seeing in front of him. He offered the man one week's wages for that shiny rock, which the man willingly took. It ended up being a 17 pound nugget of gold. In today's money, it would be $350,000.00. The jeweler knew exactly what was before him. He wanted it, and he now had this very precious treasure.

Jesus is talking about this precious treasure we have, using the example of a merchant seeking after a pearl.

Now you know where pearls come from. Pearls come from oysters. Pearls are so much more readily available today, because they are farmed out. It is an industrialized culture. But, back in Jesus' day, and in ancient times, pearls were a very rare thing. And, pearls were a very dangerous thing to go and get, because oftentimes pearl divers would have to dive to depths of one hundred feet, on just one gulp of air. Those pearls were very precious.

And, here is this merchant who is seeking after this precious pearl. When he found one, what did he do? He sold everything he had so he could purchase that valuable, precious pearl.

Jesus today is telling you, and He is telling me, that the precious treasure,

the precious pearl is The Gospel.

The Gospel points us to Jesus. The Gospel reminds us of what Jesus has done for you, and for me. Jesus is saying, “Go and sell everything you have, because this Treasure is so precious. It should be the most precious thing in your life. You should buy it.”
Now, you might say to yourself, “Pastor Tweit, wait a minute. We can't buy this precious Treasure. We can't buy eternal life in Heaven.”

And you are right. We can't. But, hear what the scriptures tell us. The scriptures tell us in The Old Testament, Isaiah 55,

“Come all you who are thirsty.

Come to the waters.

You who have no money,

come, and buy, and eat.”

It's true, we can't buy that precious treasure of everlasting life in Heaven. We can't. The reason we can't is because we are sinners who couldn't even think about making a down payment, because of the sinful lives.

During the course of this summer, we have been looking at confessional readings which have taken us to The Ten Commandments. This morning we looked at The Seventh Commandment, which says

“You shall not steal.”

The Ten Commandments tell us what to do. and

The Ten Commandments tell us what not to do.

Our confessional reading for today points out our sin. Whether we know it or not, we break this commandment of sinning against God by stealing through thought, word, and deed. It could be through robbery. It could be through theft. It could be through cheating. It could be through filing false tax returns. We find ourselves coming up short, unable to buy this precious treasure of everlasting life in Heaven. But, while it is not something we can buy, it is something that has been purchased at a very great price. It was purchased through the great price of our Savior's life, and His death on the cross.


bought that precious treasure of eternal life in Heaven

for you.

It is a free gift He gives to you. It is that treasure hidden in a field. It is that pearl of great price.

       -The third parable Jesus told His disciples is the parable of the dragnet. Think in terms of two boats that have a large net they cast into the sea. Then they drag it onto shore. In that net are two kinds of fish - desirable fish, and undesirable fish. What do the fishermen do? They keep the good fish, and the bad are cast away. In this parable it is really a warning. Jesus is speaking a warning against hypocrisy - people who say with their mouths, and maybe think with their minds, but don't believe in their hearts that Jesus is their Savior.

Now, the cast of the net of God's Word has gone out to everybody. The cast of God's Word, which is that net, has brought everybody in. But, not everybody believes Jesus is that precious treasure. And so, the warning against hypocrisy, and in saying, or coming to worship, but not believing with our hearts, believing that Jesus is that precious treasure.

Well, after sharing those three parables with the disciples, Jesus asked this question to His disciples, “Do you understand what I am talking to you about?”

The disciples said, “Yes, we understand what you are talking about”.
And to that point, Jesus shares the last of the four parables. He says, “Understanding then what I am talking about, you are like an expert in The Law, now, who has become one of my disciples. Now, out of your house you are bringing treasures that are both old and new.”

Jesus was training His disciples. They were now experts. They were disciples not only in bringing out the treasures of The Old Testament, but also now bringing out the treasures of The New Testament, and making the connection that Jesus is the fulfillment of The Old Testament Messiah.

Maybe the time of the church year that we do best at this is at Christmastime. We proclaim the prophesies of The Old Testament. The Messiah is coming. And then, we talk about the fulfillment. The Savior has come to pay for our sin through His birth, through His life, and through His resurrection.

It is our text for today that reminds us of what our precious treasure in life is.

As I mentioned earlier, I just got back from vacation. One of the things we love to do, when we are on vacation (I do) is taking long boat rides, and looking at all of the cabins, and the houses, and to see the many boats that are parked in front of people's homes. This last year I was commenting to my cousin. We saw in front of this cabin, (actually it was a very big house), four, new boats. One was a new pontoon. One was a new ski boat. One was a new fishing boat. And one was a new cruising vessel. We quickly tallied up the cost of those four boats, and said it would easily probably came to $3 or $400,000.00. That was just the boats parked in front of this house! We thought, “How cool would those things be to have. How cool would they be to have?”

Today's text reminds us of what our greatest treasure is.

God's Kingdom is our treasure. It is not boats that we own or earthly treasures.

It is the Gospel in God's Word that is our treasure. It is the Gospel in God's Word that points us right to Jesus. Jesus is that precious treasure who has done everything necessary for our salvation. Eternal life forever!

Knowing God's Kingdom is our treasure, you have become a disciple of Jesus. Jesus has trained you. He has trained you to bring out of your precious treasures new things, and old. He has trained you for a life of Christian living. Here is what The New Testament says about that.

“All scripture is God breathed,

and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting,

and training in righteousness.”

You now have been trained to live a Christian life. Being a disciple of Jesus you are now trained in your life of sharing Jesus with other people. The New Testament says,

“Always be prepared to give the reason for the hope you have”,

and to share that precious treasure of Jesus with others.

It is also being a disciple of Jesus you are trained to be a person who lives in Christian service. The New Testament says this, to prepare God's people for works of service.

Dear friends in Christ, sometimes we can beat ourselves up, can't we? We can say, “I know what that precious treasure is, but I don't always live the way I should. I don't always witness the way I should. I don't always serve the way I should.”

But, remember this. Be faithful in sharing the precious treasure. We may not see the results in our lifetime, but we cast the seed, (like Pastor Bartels shared a couple of weeks ago). It is God, the Holy Spirit, who makes that grow in other people's lives.

Today we got an insight into what Jesus shared privately with His disciples, these four parables, which are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. All of them talk about this precious treasure.

That precious treasure is yours. And, God's Kingdom is that precious treasure.