Pastor Jonathan Hansen
Jesus gives four parables about the kingdom of God.
Good-morning again Connection Church. I am so happy that you decided to come and worship God together with us. It is a beautiful thing to gather together on the Lord’s Day. And today is the Lord’s day. It is His. We come together with the express purpose of worshipping Him. As many of you know, we do this here through the singing of praises to God, the learning of truths, the giving of our offerings, the reading and preaching of God’s word, and the gathering around the Lord’s table together.
This morning I would like to open with a slight bit of significant history. Yesterday was the five hundredth anniversary of when Martin Luther arrived at the Diet of Worms. A diet was an official gathering to determine issues of state and church. Luther was summoned after being declared a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church. This was a big deal because as a declared heretic, Luther was in genuine danger of being burned at the stake. The Church has promised him safe conduct to and from the diet, but they had promised the same to Jan Hus a hundred years prior. They had broken their promise to Hus and burned him at the stake. Luther agreed and went to the diet. On April 17th, 1521, Luther was ordered to recant of his writings and teachings that one was saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone and that Scripture was the sufficient authority. Luther asked for one more day to pray and consider what to do. The authorities allowed this.
The next morning, on April 18th, 1521, five hundred years ago today, Luther made this statement. “Since then your serene majesties and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, plain and unvarnished: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the scriptures or clear reason, for I do not trust in the Pope or in the councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. God help me. Amen.”
You may be curious as to why I bring this up. I think too often we lack an understanding as to why we do things the way we do them in the church. This was a pivotal moment for the church. It was one of the key things that brought the church back to the Bible. It was a key moment that God used to bring the church back to the foundation of the Bible. This a clear statement five hundred years ago today of the importance of Scripture. This is why I preach verse by verse through the Bible. Because I believe that the greatest thing I can leave you with, is the Word of God. I do not stand behind this pulpit to declare my opinion, but to preach the Word of God to you.
This is why the pulpit has been referred to in the past as “the Sacred Desk.” This is why I echo what John Knox said, “I have never once feared the Devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit.” This is a serious thing. And I hope that you see the presentation of God’s word as a serious thing. I hope you will actively listen to God’s Word and do something with it.
Introduction of the Text:
With this in mind, please open your Bible’s to Matthew 13:44-52. If you do not have a Bible, we have Bibles on the table by the door. If you do not own one, please keep that one as our gift to you.
In the past few weeks we have seen Matthew walk us through the parables of Jesus. Matthew included an entire section on the parables of Jesus. Because of this, we have walked though several of Jesus’ parables and are now going to walk through some more. The previous parables have had a theme about the kingdom of God. They have specifically dealt with who is in the kingdom and who is not. We also saw how Jesus told parables to keep the people from understanding, but He did explain them to the disciples.
So let us now continue in the study of the parables of Jesus. Stand with me for the reading of God’s Word.
Reading of the Text:
The Parable of the Hidden 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.
The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value
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.
The Parable of the Net
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.
New and Old Treasures
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.”
The Word of God, Let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that you would help us to hear what you have spoken to us through Your Word. We are thankful for your Word. I have been reminded lately of the incredible process of how you have preserved your Word, and the sacrifices of men who died so that we could have the Bible in our language. Lord, may we stop taking for granted your word as I fear we so often do. May I never preach from this pulpit flippantly. May I always tremble in fear of the awesome task you have placed before me. May I open your word and declare it to your people with fear and trembling. What a privilege it is to be able to read the sacred Scriptures and preach them.
Lord, I ask for those here who are not yet saved. May you call to them. Make them uncomfortable here under the sound of your Word. Stir them up so that they may come to you. Draw them to you as only you can.
Lord I also ask for those here who are saved. Make them uncomfortable. Stir them up to do the work of the kingdom. Convict them of the sin in their lives. Make them holy. Do not let them sit idly under the sound of your word. May they be convicted for the way they sit without care under your Word. May they hunger for the truth you have revealed. May they repent of idleness and idolatry. Please start a fire in the hearts of your people for the Word. I am so burdened for these people and do not want to see them sit here and do nothing. I want to see them grow. Please grow them, for I cannot.
We ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.
As we have the blessed opportunity to now look into the scriptures, do not passively ignore, but actively listen to the teaching of the Word. As we open this text I want to do something a little different. I want to jump ahead to verse 51. In verse 51 Jesus asks the disciples if they understand what He has been teaching them. Because of this, I want to point you to a slip in your bulletin. I included a question sheet. I would ask you to, while you are listening, write down any questions you have. Jesus cared about His sheep. He wanted them to understand. In the same way, I want you to understand. If you have questions, please write them down, and leave them in the offering basket. I will look at them and try to find the best way to answer them.
Now let us go back to the opening of this passage. As we open, we see two starting parables that are communicating the same thing. The first of the two is the parable of the hidden treasure.
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure .
Jesus starts by telling the story of the hidden treasure. He says “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.”
There was a man who was in a field. We don’t know why that man was in that field but it was providential that he was there. As the man was in the field he sees a sight entirely uncommon to a field. It was not wheat or grain. The man sees a treasure. We do not know what treasure it was specifically, but we know what the treasure mean to the man. He finds this treasure and covers it up. He buries this long hidden treasure and in joy runs home. He sells everything he owns. He sells his house, his livestock, his clothes, his latest comforts and amenities in joy. The value of this treasure to this man is beyond anything else that he owns. He counts everything he owns as worthless for the sake of this treasure. He then runs and takes the money he has from selling all he has and buys the field so that he may own that treasure.
Jesus then immediately tells the parable of the pearl of great value.
The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value.
He then says “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.” Here we see a slightly different story, but yet one that communicates the same truth.
Jesus tells of a merchant who was in search of pearls. This man, unlike the man who bought the field, was searching for this treasure. In his search for pearls he finds himself face to face with what he was seeking. Here at last is the most perfect, most lovely, most valuable pearl. The man being unable to afford such a treasure, runs home and sells all that he has in order to buy this treasure. Here we see the link between the two men. Neither one thought that anything they currently possessed was good enough. They counted all as loss in oder to buy the treasures. Indeed these men were wise. They traded the worthless for the worth while.
I am not an investor. The stock market might as well be in an alien language for me. I do not understand it, not do I have a desire to understand it. But there is something I do know. If someone were to sell me a dollar bill for a penny, I would buy it. What would you do if I held up a one dollar bill and said that you could have it for one penny? First I imagine you would think was a scam, but no scam here. One dollar for one penny. Would you take that trade?
Now what if I held up a five dollar bill and made the same offer. Five dollars for one penny. Would you take that trade? No tricks, no scam. Five dollars for one penny, would you take that deal? What if I did the same with a ten dollar bill? Or how about a twenty dollar bill? Who wouldn’t take that trade?
What if I held up a one hundred dollar bill and said it could be yours for one penny. Would you take it? Perhaps you might be thinking that only a fool would refuse to give me a penny in exchange for one hundred dollars. What fool would refuse to do that? Then if we can just stretch out imaginations for a moment further. Picture if I were standing here and said that I would pay every debt you have or will ever owe. I will stand in the gap for you on every deal financially and will take the debt as my own. Every car payment, every house payment, every single debt. All you must do is give me that single copper penny in your hand. Give up that one single worthless copper penny and all of your debt would be paid.
What great fool would not sprint to the front and shove that penny in my hand? I unfortunately am not able to do this for you, but if I were able to do this, not one of you would hesitate. Even if that penny was all you had, you would sprint to the front and shove that penny in my hand. You would not weep over the loss of the penny. You would for joy give up all you had for the treasure you just found.
Argumentation of the Two Parables:
This is how these two men handled the finding of the treasures. They with joy let go of all they had and bought the treasure. For the man with the field, he cared not for the dirt and the land. That was just wrapping paper for the treasure he had found. These men saw the value of what they had found and joyfully sold all they had in order to possess the treasure they longed for.
Jesus says this is what the kingdom of God is like! It is like this treasure. But it is not exactly like the treasures. You see, Jesus is using again the literary device of hyperbole. It is the stretching of an image to fit an example of a situation. Many times we see it when someone is overstating something to make a point. However, Jesus is not overstating anything here. He is vastly understating things! He is dumbing down the image so that we can get it. He is lowering the kingdom of heaven so greatly just so we can maybe grasp it. Make no mistake, the kingdom of God is so far beyond any treasure on earth that they would not even compare. My example of the penny in exchange for all the debts of a lifetime is not even an apt comparison between the greatest treasure on earth and the kingdom of God. Being a part of the kingdom of God is beyond any earthly wealth.
But what is it that makes the kingdom of God worth giving up everything? Paul says it so well in Philippians 3:7-8. Listen to this, “7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ...” Paul counts all that he has or may gain as rubbish. That word rubbish is an extremely strong Greek word. It means so much more than rubbish. The only modern equivalent would be inappropriate to say from the pulpit. That is how strong Paul is stating this.
But what is it that makes the kingdom so valuable? It is Christ! Christ is of far more value than any pearl or treasure. He is certainly more valuable than anything that we have. Christ is the central value of the Kingdom. To be with Christ is what we were made for. This is the central point of our existence. Or to quote the very famous phrase from Saint Augustine, “Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.” Or perhaps in more modern terms, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Christ.” This is what we were made for. This is why Paul uses such strong language. He says he is willing to give up everything for Christ, because Christ is all that matters!
But does this mean that we will not be part of the kingdom unless we sell everything? Must we sell all we own in order to be saved? Well, this is subject that would take a full sermon to unpack, but I will try to keep it short. One does not have to sell possessions to be in the kingdom of God. To say that you had to sell everything in order to be saved would be a works based gospel. It would be adding works to salvation. However, do not breathe easier, because there is a sense that you cannot be saved unless you abandon everything you have and love. What do I mean?
I mean this, the heart that is truly saved is the heart that has Jesus as it’s Lord. This means that you abandon all for Him. Salvation in Scripture is described in radical ways. It is a new life. The old dies and the new is birthed. You are literally born again. You repent of your sin and turn to Christ. This is a radical transformation. You cast off the old ways and life and run to Christ. In essence, you are sacrificing everything for Him. This sometimes means that you must sell all you own. Sometimes it may not mean this. But it always means laying down what is most important to you at the foot of the cross. If what you own is the most important thing, sell it and give the money to the poor. Christ will allow no idols to be above Him. Where do you dedicate the most of your time? Is it in service to Him or to yourself? Where do you dedicate most of your money? Paul, echoing the sentiment of these men who found treasure, said he counted all as rubbish for the sake of Christ. Do you?
We so seldom give up anything. We are so quick to do other things. We are so quick to spend our money elsewhere. We worship ourselves and then get so angry when someone tells us to sacrifice for Christ. No, your actions and works don’t save you, but your actions and works show the state of your heart. Think of the kingdom of God. You went from death to life. Your very soul has been saved. How dare we think woefully about what we must give up. How dare we not throw our everything at the cross with joy that we have been saved. I do not say this lightly, but if you take your salvation for granted, question if you are even saved.
I do not give you easy answers. Wrestle with God on this text. Ask God if you are to sell and give God to the poor. Ask God if you must sacrifice your schedule to serve the church. Ask God to help you understand the kingdom. Then live a life of joyful sacrifice for the sake of Christ.
And as you do that, let’s continue with Jesus’ next parable. Jesus gives the parable of the net.
The Parable of the Net .
Let’s look again at verses 47-50. “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.”
This parable is similar to the parable last week about the wheat and the tares. Jesus gives a very earthy example. He uses a fishing metaphor. This would have registered with some of the disciples greatly. Some of them were fishermen. Jesus tells of a great catch of fish. And as any fisherman of those days would have known, when there is a great catch of fish, you catch all kinds of fish.
You see, they would let down a net off the side of a boat and catch fish in the net. Then they would bring the net up and see what had been caught. When there was a great catch, they would drag it ashore and sort the fish. The good fish they would keep and the bad fish and other rubbish would be tossed away.
Jesus says that this is what it will be like at the end of the age. As with the wheat and the tares, the good and the bad fish are all together until the end. Then the good will go on to eternal reward while the bad will go to hell forever. This is very much like the parable last week, so I will try not to spend too much time on it. If you would like a longer explanation, go back and listen to last week’s sermon.
However, there are a few things I do want to touch on. We see here again that the righteous and the unrighteous are held together until the day of judgement. This speaks of the way that truly I do not know who here is saved and who is not. There are indicators, but I cannot see your heart. I know that a Christian has a repentant heart, while a non Christian has an unrepentant heart. This means that a Christian cannot continue in sin. The Holy Spirit within them will not let them. But ultimately, we know that in the end, all will be made right.
It also speaks to the fact that there is a judgement coming. We have seen already that Jesus speaks often of the coming day of judgement. Here again Jesus speaks of this day. On that day those who are made righteous through faith in Christ will go on to heaven while those who are unsaved and still in their sin will go on to eternal hell. And that brings me to my final observation from this parable.
I want to correct a common misconception about that phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We often picture those in hell as being repentant and wanting to turn from their sin, but it’s too late. Well, it is too late, but that phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” does not mean that they are sorrowful for their sin. Gnashing of teeth was an expression of pure hatred and rage. It was used when someone was filled with anger and hatred towards someone else. They would gnash their teeth at them. So this phrase is indicating that they are weeping, likely from the torment and pain, but they are furiously angry and filled with hatred towards someone. But who are they hateful towards? I believe the consistent answer from scripture is that they hate God.
These people are not perfect in hell. They are eternally locked in their sin and enmity toward God. They are not repentant, but are filled with anger and hatred towards Him.
But now let us look at Jesus’ final parable.
New and Old Treasures.
The final parable Jesus gives in this section is one about scribes who have been trained for the kingdom. Jesus says the following: “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.”
Now there is some debate on exactly what Jesus is saying here. The reason there is some debate is because Jesus is so hostile towards the Scribes and teachers of the day. So why would He say anything favorable about them? This leads some to say that the scribes in this parable are actually the disciples. Jesus is referring to their training that He is giving them now. Because of this training we see the disciples go on to teach and bring treasures from the Old Testament and write the New Testament.
Others say this is a prophetic passage about some of the teachers and Scribes who will get saved and follow Jesus. Because of this, they can open up the treasures of the Old covenant as well as declare the beauty of the New covenant. Then there are those who just don’t care and want me to tell them which one of the two it is.
Well, I honestly believe both are true. Think about it, Peter in his sermons gives beautiful well reasoned sermons from the Old Testament about Christ. He truly brings treasures from the new and the old. At the same time, think of Paul. Paul was a pharisee who was trained in the Old Testament. Paul gives the most amazing and beautiful defenses of the faith. He brings the most rich treasures from the Old and the New.
This is why I think that both are true. “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.” But there is more here than just that. This is still true to this day. I am not an Apostle, for the Apostles have all died. I am not a prophet, for there are no modern day prophets. I am a preacher. I am trained and being trained for the work of the kingdom of heaven. This parable is a beautiful picture of what a preacher is supposed to do.
Preachers are to be Scribes who are trained for the kingdom of God. They are to be skilled and schooled in the Word of God. They are to be like a master of a house, for they are the earthly masters that God has placed over His house. They are to bring forth treasures from the Old and the New. They are to present the Word. They are not to present their frail opinions, but the treasure of the Word of God. This is what I endeavor to do. I wish to bring you treasures of the Old and the New Testaments. But what will you do with these treasures?
Will you sit there passively while the treasure of the Word of God is presented before you? Or will you react like the men of the first two parables? Will you reject the Word of God, or will you react with great joy? Too often we view hearing preaching as a passive event. You simply sit there and hear it. If you are not careful, you can view Sunday mornings as a bore and as something you simply receive passively. But this is not the case. The hearing of God’s Word preached is an active thing. You must actively hear it and receive it. You must apply it. You must share it. In doing this, you are worshipping God.
I love how Martin Luther viewed preaching. He honestly believed that the hearing of God’s Word being read and preached was one of (if not the) greatest things for a soul. If someone was downcast, he would tell them “Go hear the preaching of God’s Word.” If someone confessed of struggling with a sin, again he would tell them to “Go hear the Word of God preached.”
So now I must put it to you. What will you do with this sermon? I am to present the treasure of God’s Word. I cannot make you receive it or act on it. Will you take this and apply it? You must. I started this sermon by asking you for your questions. But this is the question I leave you with. What will you do with today’s sermon?
Let us now transition into our time of gathering around the Lord’s Table. We do this every other week. We come together and we take the bread and the cup, just as Jesus commanded us to. This is an act reserved for Christians alone. If you are not trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation, do not partake with us, please. But if it is your confession that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He died for your sins, that He rose again on the third day, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, I welcome you to come now and receive the cup and the bread.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 6:06 AM April 19, 2021.