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Sunday, January 06, 2019

[Matt's Messages] “The Treasure of the Kingdom”

“The Treasure of the Kingdom”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 6, 2019 :: Matthew 13:44-52 

It’s been a few weeks since we were in Matthew 13 together. We were in Matthew last week for the baptisms, but we jumped to the end of the book. The week before that was Christmas Sunday. So it has been a couple of weeks since were in Matthew 13 together.

You can sum up Matthew 13 with four words: “Parable. Of. The. Kingdom.”

Matthew crams 7 or 8 of Jesus’ parables into one chapter. The third major block of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of Matthew. At this point in His ministry, Jesus almost exclusively using parables–enigmatic stories, riddles, short allegories to teach about Jesus’ favorite subject.

Let me ask you a question:

What was Jesus’ favorite subject to teach on?

It wasn’t the Cross.

You could say that it was His identity. Because that pops up again and again.

But I think that Jesus would answer that question with these four words:

The. Kingdom. Of. Heaven.

The Kingdom of God was Jesus’ favorite subject to teach on.

Remember how He began His ministry?

“Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.”

And remember the Sermon the Mount?

That was a like a Kingdom Manifesto!

He described how He wants us to live as citizens of the upside-down, inside-out Kingdom of Heaven.

And He taught us to pray to our Heavenly Father, “Your kingdom come!”

And the prayer group on Wednesday night just went back over what we are to seek first, above everything else that we might be tempted to run after. What was it?

“Seek first _____________” The kingdom!

Jesus loved to talk about the kingdom of heaven.

And in chapter 13, He has been using parables to do it.

Jesus told His disciples that He was using parables so much because parables were the perfect kind of stories to both reveal His kingdom to those who trust and follow Him and to conceal His kingdom from those who do not want it.

For those who want the kingdom, they “get” the parables, and they get the kingdom.

For those who reject the kingdom, they don’t “get” the parables, and they certainly don’t get the kingdom.

Strangely enough, these parables that Jesus taught reveal to us what is really going on in our world.

Because things are not as they might seem.

Last time, we looked the parables in verses 24 through 43, and we learned that the kingdom has come, is coming, and one day will come in all of its fullness.

This kingdom does not operate on our time schedule.

This kingdom does not operate as we might expect.

But it has come (however small at first, a small as divinely conceived embryo), is coming (slowly but surely), and one day will come in all of its fullness.

In verse 43 Jesus said, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” That’s what’s really going on!

Now, today, I just want us to look at verses 44 through 52.

There are 4 more parables here, and they go over some of the same territory as the ones we’ve already been studying so far in chapter 13.

They bring this section of Jesus’ Parabolic Teaching to a fitting conclusion.

And there is one major idea about the kingdom that is really emphasized in these 9 verses.

And that is this–that the kingdom of heaven is a treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is of supreme value.

The kingdom of heaven is unimaginably precious.

That’s the main idea especially of these first two parables.

Now, this is a crazy little story.

It’s really fun. We just studied it together in-depth a year and a half ago at Family Bible Week 2017 when we did the geocaching, remember?

It’s a very short story, but there’s a lot in there.

A treasure is hidden in a field.
A man finds it in the field.
The man hides it again in the field.
The happy man sells all of his stuff and buys the field.
End of story.

Now, don’t get hung up on the legality of what the man did in this story.

This parable is not here to teach the ethics of finding buried treasure.

Jesus is not teaching about what to do or what not to do if you find a treasure buried in a field.

It was definitely legal and depending on the situation could have been ethical, too, but even if not, it’s not the point.

It’s just a detail of the story, not the point.

The point is just how valuable the treasure was.

Did you see that?

This guy was so happy to have found this treasure, that He went and sold how much of his stuff?

All that he had.

Can you imagine?

What all do you have?

Imagine liquidating everything you have.

You go to the bank, and you withdraw all of your money.

You sell your house, your vehicles; you cash in your retirement plan.

You put every single thing you have into one cashier’s check, and you go to the realtor’s office, and you put it down on that one field.

Because it has that one treasure that’s worth it all!

That’s what this man did!

Now, what is the treasure?

Some people think that we are the treasure, and Jesus is the man in the story.

And I get why they say that. Because He gave us His all for us.

And, of course, we could never purchase our salvation either.

But I don’t think that’s where Jesus is going with this.

All of the clues point towards the treasure being the kingdom itself.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.”

Now, before we camp on the idea of the supreme value of the kingdom, I want to point out again that the kingdom is hidden.

Hidden like a seed in the ground. Remember that from the other parables?

Hidden like yeast in the bread.

This whole chapter has been about how the kingdom has a hiddenness to it.

Let me put it this way: The kingdom of heaven is miss-able.

It is find-able, but it is also miss-able.

The kingdom in its present form can be overlooked.

It can be missed.

It’s hidden in plain sight. But it can also be easily overlooked.

Think about how many people might have walked right on by this treasure in this field.

It was there all the time.

But this guy stumbled upon it.

Can you see the kingdom of heaven right now?

A lot of people don’t.

One day it will be unmistakable. When the mustard seed grows into the mustard tree and the birds of the air nest in its branches.

But right now, there is a hiddenness to it.

In the next story, the main character is actually searching.

The first guy just stumbled upon the treasure by accident.

But this guy was looking for something special. V.45

“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.” Here’s point number one:

#1. IF YOU FIND THE KINGDOM, YOU HAVE FOUND EVERYTHING.

This merchant was willing to part with everything he had to possess that one pearl.

It was priceless.

That’s the kingdom!

If you find the kingdom of heaven, you have found everything.

Now the point here is not that we gain the kingdom by buying it with everything we have.

We cannot earn the kingdom.

That’s impossible!

Jesus is not teaching us how to gain the kingdom but just how valuable it is.

It’s worth absolutely everything.

So the point is to treat kingdom with the all-surpassing value that it truly has.

To cherish the kingdom as the treasure that it really is.

Do you have the kingdom?

Then you have everything!

Rejoice!

And don’t value anything above it.

What is your favorite Christmas gift this year?

I’m guessing that everybody got something for Christmas this year even if you have had to buy it and wrap it for yourself.

“Ooo. I’ll get myself a little something.”

Which present is your favorite? Don’t say it out loud or you might disappoint or anger your neighbor.

Now how much is that present worth to you?

Is it worth more than all of the other presents?

Is it worth more than your house or your family or your job?

You see the kingdom of heaven, the active reign and rule of King Jesus over His joyful people and over all of His renewed creation is worth more than anything else.

Because if you have this kingdom, you have everything.

The question is do we treasure the kingdom?

Do we act as if the kingdom is our treasure?

Not “Can we buy the kingdom by selling all that we have?”

If we could, we should. Because it’s worth that!

But we can’t.

But what can we do to show that we value it above everything else?

Well, one thing we can do is to live out its values.

We treasure the kingdom when we live as citizens of the kingdom.

When we live out the Sermon on the Mount for example.

Upside-down. Inside-out.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Upside-down. Inside-out.

From the heart out.

Where is your treasure?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We treasure the kingdom when we live as citizens of the kingdom.

And yes, when we give of our time, talents, and other treasures.

The question is do we live our lives as if the kingdom was our all-surpassing treasure?

Do we live as if the King of this kingdom, King Jesus, was the most important Person in our lives?

This is the first Sunday of 2019.

What needs to change in your life and mine in 2019 to show the world that the kingdom of heaven is our greatest treasure?

That we have found it?

We get it!

We’ve found it!

We have found Jesus and His kingdom, and our lives show it.

Because there is flipside to this truth, and Jesus gives it as a warning in the next parable. V.47

“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Let’s put it this way.  If you find the kingdom, you have found everything, but:

#2. IF YOU MISS THE KINGDOM, YOU HAVE LOST EVERYTHING.

This parable is a lot like the one about the wheat and weeds, isn’t it?

It’s just fishing not farming.

And it’s focused on the of the story which is the end of history when the kingdom comes.

There will be a great sorting.

This dragnet goes down in the water and brings everything up.

And then there is a sorting, a judgment.

Good fish in baskets.
Bad fish (unclean, inedible, rotten, whatever, bad fish) thrown away.

And Jesus explains it very clearly.

The good fish are the righteous.

And the bad fish are the wicked.

The righteous are those who belong to the kingdom.

They are the ones who are trusting in Jesus and cherishing Jesus and treasuring Jesu and His kingdom.

And the wicked couldn’t care less.

They are the ones who have rejected the kingdom, overlooked the kingdom, didn’t “get” the kingdom, didn’t want the kingdom and didn’t live out the values of the kingdom.

They lived what seemed right-side-up to them and from the outside only.

And Jesus says that they will go into a fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

If you miss the kingdom, you have lost everything.

Don’t miss it.

Turn from your sins and trust in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

He died for sinners like you and me.

The kingdom is given to those who know they are not worthy of it, but still want it.

And trust in the King and His sacrifice to give it to them.

Remember, the kingdom may be hidden now, but it is find-able.

And one day, it will be all that there is.

And those who have not joined the kingdom now will not be a part of it then.

One more.

Jesus asks them a question. V.51

“‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked. ‘Yes,’ they replied. [And I think they are probably overestimating how much they truly understand. But they are beginning to get it, too, I think. [Okay. Jesus says. V.52] He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’”

Last parable. Here’s the point:

#3. IF YOU KNOW THE KINGDOM, YOU SHOULD SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE.

Jesus says, “It’s great that you’ve got it. The mysteries of the kingdom are opening to you, but you’re not supposed to keep them to yourself.”

If you know the kingdom, you should share it with everyone who needs to hear about it.

“[E]very teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven [that’s you know. You’ve been told about the kingdom...] is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’”

“Let me show you what I got in here!”

I’ve got some great old stuff.

I think that’s the Old Testament.

All of the promises in it are true and coming true.

All of what the Old Testament taught about the kingdom will be fulfilled.

“But that’s not all I’ve got in here. Let me show you this treasure.”

You see that word “treasure?”

“I’ve got some new stuff here. Parables. Parables that say that the kingdom may not come like you would have expected by reading your Old Testament.

It’s all that. But it’s also hidden. Miss-able. Quiet. Like a seed. Like yeast. Like treasure buried in a field. Like a pearl among a bunch of other pearls.

It’s like that, too.

But let me tell you about it so you see it, too.

Let me tell you about it so you find it, too.

Let me tell you about this treasure so you treasure it, too.”

Friends, in 2019, let’s tell the world about the kingdom of heaven.

Let’s not keep this to ourselves.

It’s too good to keep to ourselves!

Let’s pull out the old and the new and tell people about the treasure of the kingdom.

***

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples

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