Wednesday, October 14, 2009
To You Who Believe He is Precious The parables of the treasure and the pearl
Matthew 13: 44 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,
46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
This parable has sometimes been interpreted as reflecting the Lord's attitude to Israel and the Lord's attitude to the church, rather than the believer's conversion or the believer's attitude to Christ. These interpreters, such as Griffith Thomas, try to maintain the symbolism of the previous parables. "Maintaining harmony with foregoing parables, we may interpret the metaphor of the Field and the Man (1) Field clearly symbolizes world, as in first three parables.
(2) There seems little doubt that, as before, man typifies our Lord engaged this time in seeking instead of sowing.
b. The Treasure This, of course, may be thought of as humanity in general but, since word "treasure" is often used of Israel, we may distinguish between this parable and next hy suggesting that here specifically Jewish Church, or Hebrew Christian group, is primarily in mind (cf. Exod. 19:5, Ps. 135:4, Mal. 3:17); this, indeed, is not usual interpretation, but is here submitted because it seems more natural and consistent than one generally adopted.
(2) Treasure was "hid" — and only Christ knew it was there to be "found"; and His estimate of it is seen throughout Gospels (cf. Luke 15, 19:1-10; John 17:6).
(3) Treasure was hidden again; and, Kingdom having rejected and therefore postponed, we may interpret this as indicating that those in Israel believing on Him at that time, though true members of His Church, would not be revealed until later, perhaps after Pentecost, for they may well be included in three thousand forming first local church (cf Acts 2:41-47, 4:32).
c. The Purchase Meanwhile, man in parable "for joy thereof, goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field"; and surely this joyful sacrifice and purchase form beautiful picture of our Lord's redemptive death (cf. Luke 15:6,9, 23; Acts 20:28; 2 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Heb. 12:2; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19). Therefore, Jesus Christ our Lord "sold" all He had, His very life, for man's redemption, so that we are "bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20); and "mystery" in this case may well include His surprising estimate of value and hidden potentialities of lives "he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).
However the Lord did say, Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,
26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish'? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
I think it is always wise to take a parable at its simplest and most obvious meaning. And in this case, the preciousness of the Kingdom of God is the thing that is missed by the multitude. This is why the Lord was telling these parables. Consistency is actually about the point of the parables. The three poor soils were poor because they did not receive the message of the kingdom is a good heart. 1 Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious:
'In Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' —1 Peter 1:8.
I don't know what thoughts of treasure and pearls may evoke in your minds. It always reminds me immediately of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, of Long John Silver, and doubloons and pieces-of-eight, pegleg pirates, and all the exciting things usually associated with the idea of buried treasure. It is intriguing to realize that Scripture deals with this subject as well. It recognizes the allure and the mystery which always gathers around the notion of hidden treasure.
A friend told me how a long lost uncle had not believed in banks for 60 years, and kept all his money at home. When he died, the family searched everywhere but couldn't find his treasure trove. Finally reg noticed a jar sitting out in the middle of a field. He walked over and tried to kick it, but found it was glued to something much bigger - a 44 gallon drum. When they dug up the drum they found it filled with money, right back to the old pounds shillings and pence days.
People in trouble sometimes bury their valuables as disaster approaches. The land of Israel had been fought over by many armies for many years. When armies approached, the people would take their valuables and hide them where they could be reclaimed when the turmoil had passed. Of course, sometimes they were unable to return.
In England they found a treasure that goes back earlier than 11th century. Wow what a find.
A few years ago, eight Dutch children aged 9 to 11 were digging beneath their club house. A foot and a half down they came across two glass jars. The jars were filled with coins - Maple Leafs, Kugerrands the gold kind. The coins and jewelry were worth more than $215,000. It's all theirs - if not claimed in 30 years.
In Jesus' parable, a man finds a forgotten treasure. It is great enough for the man who finds it to sell all he has to possess it. The man who finds the gold is not the owner of the field. He might have been gleaning in the field or picking grain. But the fact that he dug deeply enough to find a hidden treasure suggests that he was a workman who was employed by the owner, and that he discovers the treasure in the course of his daily labour. Jesus says that this discoverer of the treasure reburies it. The implication was , that if a person discovers a treasure and lifts it out of it's hiding place, it belongs to the owner of the field. So he is careful not to move the treasure until he has bought the field. He goes and sells all he has to buy the field. He gives up something in order to have something greater because he is sure of a great reward.
The Kingdom is Priceless
CH Spurgeon commenced his ministry as a lad of sixteen, "I stood up for the first time in my life to preach the gospel in a cottage to a handful of poor people, who had come together for worship. I felt my own inability to preach, but I ventured to take this text, "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious." I do not think I could have said anything upon any other text, but Christ was precious to my soul and I was in the flush of my youthful love, and I could not be silent when a precious Jesus was the subject. "He is precious." For a thing to be rightly called precious, it should have three qualities: it should be rare, it should have an intrinsic value of its own, and it should possess useful and important properties.
He is absolutely unique. Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid. He is the one sacrifice for sin. Not the infinite God, nor all the wealth of heaven, could supply another like him. As God and man, he alone combines the two natures in one person. "There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." If we can never find another like him, after searching all the ages through, we may well call him precious. It is also most clear that he is intrinsically valuable — who shall estimate his worth? I should darken counsel by words without knowledge if I were to attempt in detail to tell you what he is. Only dwell on the simple fact, that while he is God over all, and has thus the fullness of the Godhead, he is also man, true man of the substance of his mother, and so has all the adaptation of perfect manhood. "Consider how great this man was." Not even heaven itself can be compared with Christ Jesus. He is incomparably, immeasurably, inconceivably precious. As for useful qualities, where else shall we find such a variety of uses in one place? He is eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, feet to the lame, healing to the sick, freedom to the slave, joy to the mourner, and life to the dead. Think of his life, and how it gives life to the believer! Think of his death, and how it redeems from hell all those who trust in him! Think of his resurrection, and how it justifies believers; and of his second coming, and how it delights our hearts! Think of our Lord in all his offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King! Think of him in all his relationships, as husband, brother, friend! Think of him under all the types and figures with which Scripture delights to sot him forth!
Thomas Guthrie's description: "In the blood of Christ to wash out sin's darkest stains, in the grace of God to purify the foulest heart, in peace to calm life's roughest storms, in hopes to cheer guilt's darkest hour, in courage that defies death and descends calmly into the tomb, in that which makes the poorest rich and with which the richest are poor indeed, the gospel 'has treasures greater far than east or west unfold, and its rewards are more precious than all the stores of gold."
The Kingdom is Present but obscured
Note that this man isn't in the field because he is looking for something. But he finds it anyway and he recognizes the value of what he has found.
To one, He didn't know it was there in the field until he accidently stumbled across it. Perhaps he was tilling the soil, and there he found it. It was unexpected. Not what he thought. Perhaps that is your experience. You never knew about the Saviour until you heard about Him recently, and now the decision is yours. What will you do about it?
To another the Saviour was known. Jesus then tells a second parable as a companion to the first. He speaks of a merchant who is seeking fine pearls. He finds one pearl of such great value that he sells all his other pearls in order to have the one.
This parable suggests that there are other pearls -- but only one pearl of great price. That is to say, there are many fine things in this world in which we may find loveliness. We may find it in knowledge, in the wonder of the human mind, in music, in art, in literature. We can find loveliness in human relationships. Each of these are lovely -- but compared to knowing God, they are each of lesser loveliness. This is not to insult these fine things. They are genuine pearls and valuable. But there is only one pearl of great price, which is the acceptance of the reign of God in our lives. This does not mean that we must forego art and literature and human relationships and knowledge. It's just that the one unique pearl of great price must come first. Jesus said. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and then these other 'pearls' will be added unto you."
Oh Christ was known to be precious, but now He is the more precious, and something must be done. But there had been other precious things, and those other precious things had at one time or another seemed more precious than Christ Himself. And then he hets a better look and he realises that there is nothing more precious than Christ, and He must have Him.
Either way, you must have Him now.
The Kingdom is Pleasant
IT'S WORTH THE QUEST
Note well, that to faith the promises concerning Christ are made By faith, again, the Lord Jesus is appropriated. In possession lies much of preciousness. Is the Koh-i-Noor diamond a precious thing to me? Well, it is precious in itself; but I cannot say that it is precious to me; for I do not even know where it is, nor do I give it more thought than if it were a bit of glass.
When a thing belongs to you, it has a value to you, and you make a full estimate of it. Now, no man possesses Christ except he believes in him.
By faith the Lord Jesus is more and more tasted and proved, and become
more and more precious. In proportion as we test our Lord, he will rise in our esteem. If it so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, he is precious to you; The more afflictions a believer endures, the more does he discover of the sustaining power of Christ, and therefore the more precious Christ becomes to him.
These parables tell us that you have to have something in order to get something. Now you can't buy salvation. But you do need the eyes to see what God is doing and the ears to hear what God is saying to you.
The man who discovers the hidden treasure is apparently not looking for it. His discovery is accidental. But in the case of the merchant, the finding of the pearl is the result of a long and faithful quest. To those outside the field, a cultured pearl is scarcely distinguishable from one created by an oyster in the wild state. And to my untutored eye, a necklace of pearls of the KMart bargain table may be as attractive as the real thing. But the merchant of pearls knows the difference at a glance. Anyone can recognize a pot of gold but only the merchant of pearls knows the pearl of supreme value when he sees it.
Some are not particularly anxious to find Jesus. They aren't very interested in religion. They are going on their way when suddenly an unexpected thing confronted them -- the Gospel. They have not really seen it before. They have not known they were seeking it. But there it is and with the insight granted them by the Holy Spirit, they recognize it as something of far greater value than anything that has come into their lives before. They see themselves in need of a Savior. They recognize that if they have Jesus, they have everything else as well. So they turn to Him and believe. They are an illustration of God's words in Isaiah: "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me." (Isa. 65:1)
Others like the seeker of the pearl are truly fascinated by spiritual things. They seek, they look, and they feel their need. They move up one blind alley after another. Finally they come to Jesus and they see the truth of his words: "I am the gate; whoever enters by me will be saved." (John 10:9). Their seeking is initiated by God. They move because of the calling of His Holy Spirit. When they finally stand face-to-face with Jesus they recognize him as the answer to their long-felt longing and the purpose of their long-experienced lack of ease in spiritual things.
There has always been an attractiveness about pearls.
1) Tiffany's in New York - pearl necklace worth $33,000.
2) Julius Caesar gave a pearl to Brutus' mother worth $45 million.
3) Cleopatra is said to have owned one worth $750 million.
I was conducting an RSL Anzac Day service many years ago. I had arrived early at the place for the service, and awaited those marching there. An elderly gentleman was seated next to me. We got talking. The fellow says: "I am involved with the… Baptist Church that's the church I go to myself." I laughed: "That's strange. I've been preaching there for five years and I don't believe I've ever seen you." The man responds: "Come on now! I didn't say I was a fanatic!"
Well yes, the Lord does want us to be wholeheartedly on board with the gospel of the Kingdom.
The Kingdom Is Precious.
What is it worth? Well you can tell how much it is worth by how much a person values it. How much are they willing to give up to have it?
"What, then," says one, "what am I to give up?"
You must sell off your righteousness. It will not fetch much, but I daresay you think it is a fine thing.
And everything else that you have heretofore thought fit to boast of-come, you must get rid of it. some men that will have to give up a good deal of what
they call pleasure, sinful pleasure. No pleasure which is honest, which is
really beneficial to us, need ever be denied to us.
"Religion never was designed To make our pleasures less."
It makes them vastly more. But any pleasure that savours of sin is to be done away with. Come, can you sell all that off? That mixing in loose company, anything approaching to lewdness, anything that has to do with the gratification of the vile passions of the flesh-come, for Christ's sake, can you give it up? Well, if you cannot, of course you cannot have the pearl. If you must have the world you cannot have Christ;
The give up sin
They give up the pride of life
And, then, sometimes, in some cases, men have to give up a good deal of the honors and the satisfaction of life that arise from the esteem of their fellow-creatures. Has it come to this, "If I become a Christian they will ridicule me."
Christ is precious — they are proving it every day by their patient sufferings, by their laborious efforts, by their constant offerings to the church of Christ. "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious."
We talk lightly of these things, but these were no mean sacrifices. For a man to leave the partner of his bosom, to be despised by her who ought to honor him, to be spit upon by his own children, to be driven out by his countrymen, and have his name mentioned as a hissing, and a reproach, and a byeword; this is no easy matter to bear; and yet the Christians in the first ages took up this cross, and not only carried-it patiently, but carried it joyfully; rejoicing in tribulations, if those tribulations fell upon them for Christ's sake and the gospel.
Look at Polycarp before the lions, when he is brought into the midst of the assembly and it is demanded of him that he will deny his God. Thousands of savage eyes look down upon him, and there he stands, a feeble man, alone in the arena, but he tells them that "he has known his Lord these many years and he never did him a displeasure and he will not deny him at the last." "To the lions!" they cry, "To the lions!" and the lions rush upon him, and he is speedily devoured; but all this he would have borne at the mouths of a thousand lions, if he had a thousand lives, rather than he would have thought anything amiss against the Majesty of Jesus of Nazareth. The whole history of the ancient church of Christ, proves that Jesus has been an object of his peoples' highest veneration; that they set nothing in rivalry with him, but cheerfully and readily, without a murmur, or a thought, gave up all for Jesus Christ, and rejoiced to do so.
The church that is not prepared to suffer, and bleed and die for Christ, is not Christ's church. For what does he say? "He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." — St. Matthew c. x., 5:37 and 38.
Many are the poor people I have discovered, who have denied themselves of this and that, because they would serve Christ's cause. And many there are, too — every now and then we find them out — in the middle ranks of society, who give a hundred times as much to the cause of Christ as many of the rich and wealthy; and if you knew to what little trials they are put, to what shifts they are driven in order to serve Christ, you would say, "The man that can proves clearly that Christ is precious to him."
Is Christ precious to you? My young brother, is Jesus precious to you in your youth? Men and women of middle age is Christ precious to you? Remember that this world is but a dream, and if you have not something more satisfactory than that, you will die dissappointed, even though you succeed beyond your highest wishes.
But if he is not precious, then you are not believers, and you are condemned already because you believe not on the Son of God.
The Kingdom is Personal.
The central truth to both these parables is that the Kingdom of heaven must be personally appropriated. We do not become citizens of the kingdom by virtue of physical birth but by choice.
2. Both men in both parables found something that was more valuable that all that they owned combined. Both men were willing to give up all their possessions in order to own their newfound treasures.
THE BUYING. He had sold all that he had, and then he pays the shekels over-pays them over that he may have the pearl,
and he gets the pearl
You must personally consider the purchase.
You can immediately make the purchase.
You make the purchase by Faith.
Throughout the scriptures the salvation that has been earned for you by the Saviour is given to you for free.
But you must make that purchase. The opportunity to purchase will not always be there.
2 Corinthians 6: For He says: In an acceptable time, I heard you, and in the day of salvation, I helped you. Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation.
"If he is to be had, let me have him. Oh, if I can know my sins forgiven, let me know it. Oh, if by any means I can have peace with God-if I can become a child of God and an heir of heaven-if my eternal happiness can be secured, oh, let it be secured! "Happy day, happy day, For he has washed my sins away."
It is the beginning of delight to a soul when he can say, "Jesus is mine; I know he is. Grace has enabled me to lay hold upon him." what an enriching purchase it was which the man had made.
When he had once got the pearl instead of his property he thought to himself, "Why, I have got a hundred times more property now than I had.
This was a final purchase. The merchantman, according to the parable, never went buying pearls anymore. "No," said he, "no: I have bought a pearl of great price, and now I will go out of the business." And when a man once finds Christ-ah, then he seeks nothing more. If Jesus Christ be mine, more than all in him I find. "Now rest, my long-divided heart; Fix'd on this blissful center, rest: