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Pentecost 7 2014, Proper 12
July 27, 2014
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
Deuteronomy 7:6-9, Romans 8:28-39, Matthew 13:44-52


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            Jesus is staying at a house in Capernaum on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  He goes outside and down to the lake where such great crowds gather that He gets into a boat to teach them the parable of the sower which He explains, and then the parable of the weeds and the mustard seed and the leaven.  Then Jesus and His disciples go back into the house and the disciples ask Jesus to explain the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds.  As we heard in Vicar’s sermon last week, Jesus explains:  The Son of Man sows good seed and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom.  The weeds are the sons of the evil one and the enemy who sows them is the devil.  We so often want to ask, “Why does God allow evil to exist.”  Jesus teaches here that He will let the weeds grow for a time, Matthew 13:29 (ESV) 29 … lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.”

For now the weeds are allowed to grow, but at the close of the age the angels will gather the weeds -- all causes of sin and all law-breakers – and they will be thrown into the fiery furnace.  The sons of the evil one will be burned and the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  This separation will happen on the last day, but until then, Jesus instructs that both good seed and weeds be allowed to grow together -- and it is a weedy world. 

            You are a baptized child of God living in a world of weeds.  As a follower of Jesus in a world of weeds it can feel like you are getting choked out and have to fight for light as the weeds grow tall and unchecked around you. You can get frustrated and discouraged. Living in this weedy world there is great temptation.  You are influenced by the weeds and their weedy ways.  Their sin tempts you to sin.  Their sin makes sin seem normal.  In this weed-filled life you can feel like you have disappeared into a world of sin. You can start to believe there is no hope for a follower of Jesus among the weeds of the world. 

Jesus allows the weeds to grow and He knows this will be difficult for the wheat, so, after telling His disciples that the good seed and weeds will grow together until the last day, Jesus then tells two more parables. 

Matthew 13:44-46 (ESV)  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.

            Traditionally these parables are interpreted to mean that the treasure; the pearl, is salvation in Jesus and you are the man who finds the treasure -- you are the merchant who finds the pearl -- and you are to give up everything to attain the treasure -- to possess the pearl.  You give up all that you have to get salvation in Jesus.  You give up everything to obtain the treasure that is Jesus.  This is how these parables have been interpreted.

            But let’s see if this fits with the rest of the Gospel of Matthew.  If we flip forward a few pages to Matthew 18 we find the story of the unforgiving servant who is having himself and all that he has sold to pay his unpayable debt. This selling of all that you have is a shown to be a great tragedy; a great punishment.   

Flip forward another page to Matthew 19 we find the rich young man who believes he has done all the good deeds he must do to have eternal life and Jesus tells him to sell all that he has and give it to the poor and have treasure in heaven.  The rich young man is unable to do this.  Jesus then says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.   The disciples are concerned, “Who then can be saved.”  Jesus tells them, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

            If the treasure is Jesus and you are the man who must give up everything to obtain the treasure, then -- you are lost, because you cannot give up everything -- with man this is impossible.  As hard as you try, you cannot give up all your sin. You cannot give up all your possessions. You cannot do it because you are tainted with the sin you inherited from your first parents, Adam and Eve.

            If the treasure is Jesus; if the pearl is Jesus, and it is up to you to give up everything, then you are lost.  But that is not the message Jesus is giving to His disciples who are struggling with being His followers in a world full of weeds. 

            Jesus is not the treasure here.  You are the treasure.  You are the pearl of great price.  Jesus is the man who finds the treasure and gives up everything in order to possess you

            You, a lowly sinner hidden in the weedy fields of this world of immorality and evil; you are God’s great treasure. You, the one that struggles with secret desires and actions; with hidden guilt and shame; you are the pearl of great value.  You are the reason that Jesus Christ gives up heavenly glory, humbles Himself and takes on human flesh as a helpless infant.  You are the reason that Jesus lives a life of poverty as a travelling preacher. You are the reason that Jesus, God in flesh, gives Himself up to be arrested and tried in the middle of the night.  You are the reason Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, gives Himself up to be spit upon, mocked, beaten, stripped, and brutally flogged.  You are the reason that Jesus, the Word made flesh, gives up everything--allowing Himself in humiliation to be nailed to the cross at Calvary -- in order to redeem you from sin, death and the devil.  You are the reason Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death. 

            You are the great treasure.  Jesus gives up all that He has in order to have youYou were sealed as His treasured possession in your baptism as the name of God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, was watered onto your head.  You are God’s great treasure.  You belong to God.  Not from anything you have done, but because Jesus gave up everything to have you. Blessed are the poor in spirit for yours is the kingdom of heaven.  You, who know the depth of your own sin and depravity; you who knows that from yourself there is no hope of being good enough; you are saved by the blood of Jesus shed for you on the cross. 

            Jesus is not the treasure here.  You are the treasure.  You are the pearl of great price.  Jesus is the man who finds the treasure and gives up everything in order to possess you

            Into your life in the weeds comes this amazing good news. You, who were lost in this sinful world, have been rescued; redeemed.  Not from anything within yourself but through Jesus giving up everything for you.  You do not need to doubt because it is not from yourself.  You are Jesus’ treasure.  God is for you. 

            If God is for you, who can be against you?

            The devil likes to hang around accusing you of being an irredeemable sinner who might as well go on sinning.  The devil wants to guide you, but you do not belong to the devil. You are not a seed of the evil one; you are good seed, you are a son of the Kingdom because of what Jesus has done for you.

            Romans 8:32 (ESV) 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

            The devil wants to accuse.  But his accusations are powerless. 

            Romans 8:33-34 (ESV) 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

            Jesus is for you.  The one who died and rose and ascended gave up everything to possess you.  There is no one who can trump Jesus.  There is no one who can charge you.  Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.

            Life in this world is troubled.  You live among the sons of the evil one.  There are many who reject Jesus’ lordship; many who reject Jesus’ sacrifice for them; many who reject Jesus altogether.  You live among the weeds of the world, but the weeds cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. You live with tribulation.  You live with distress.  There is great persecution against Christians in this world and it seems to be getting worse.  There is famine in this world where there is enough food, but not in the right places. There are those who do not have adequate clothing.  There is danger everywhere.  There is warfare around the world with no end in sight.  It can seem like everything is out of control and there is no hope.  But nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  You are Jesus’ treasured possession.  You are His pearl of great value.  Nothing can separate you from His love.

            Neither death, nor life.

            Nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come

            Nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation.

Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus your Lord.

The weeds cannot separate you from God’s love.

            Jesus gave everything to have you.  You are God’s treasured possession.  You are the pearl of great value.  You belong to Jesus.  Amen.