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Sermon for July 30, 2017

Matthew 13:44-46 (8th Sunday after Pentecost/Proper 12)

“You are the Treasure”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

July 30, 2017

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our text today is from the Gospel lesson recorded in Matthew 13:

44The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure having been hidden in a field, which, when a man had found it, he hid, and from his joy, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls. 46And when he found a very valuable pearl, he went away and sold all that he had and bought it.

 

           Jason is the captain of his school basketball team. Affirmed by his coach, popular among his classmates, genuinely liked by his teammates, and cheered by the crowds at his school games. Jason is an outstanding basketball player. Everybody agrees. Except Jason.

          Sometimes, he wonders why he never feels good enough. His friends tell him to be less hard on himself. Jason will admit that he has good athletic ability, and he knows, in his heart, that he is better than anybody else on the team. But he sets such high standards for himself that he never is satisfied, no matter how well he plays. After the games he thinks about the baskets he missed rather than the shots he scored. He constantly compares himself with players on other teams who are better, and he doubts that he is good enough to pursue his dream of a career in professional sports.

          Jason grew up in a stable family, but his dad never came to the games. His mother believed that pride is the greatest sin, and she often told her children that people who think good things about themselves are “just showing off” and pretending to be “big shots.” Only recently has Jason begun to realize that his mother has deep insecurities of her own—insecurities that she passes on in a desire to help her children develop humility. Instead, Jason and his siblings have been molded to feel deeply inferior and inadequate no matter what they do. Some have given up, accepted their inferiority, and may never change. Jason wants to succeed, but in his own eyes his accomplishments are never good enough, regardless of the affirmation and applause that come from others.

          There are many people like Jason. They feel inferior, inadequate, and insecure. They wear self-imposed labels like “Born to lose,” or “Nothing special.”

          Cheryl was at her wit’s end. She simply didn’t know where to turn. Her welfare check lasted only about half the month. Although she wanted to and had tried several times, she was unable to work because there was no one to watch her two children and daycare was too expensive. She lived in a rundown apartment in a small town with little opportunity to change her situation. She wanted her children to have more opportunities than she had, but she just couldn’t make ends meet.  Instead, she fell farther behind each month. She felt worthless and useless. 

          Can you relate to Jason or Cheryl? Perhaps you have been, or continue to be, plagued by low self-esteem and low self-worth. Life doesn’t always move us in the direction we had planned—our health isn’t what we hoped it would be, a marriage fell apart, you lost your job, your kids are constantly getting into trouble. Maybe it seems like something in the house or the car is constantly in need of repair. You had planned for more and for better for yourselves and for your families but you just don’t seem to be getting it. Perhaps you feel like you have a big label on your forehead, “Loser.” 

          Satan wants you to believe that you are worthless. He wants you to doubt God’s Word that says you have value and significance to the Lord. The devil wants you to think of yourself as having no value. He wants you to believe that you are inferior, nothing special, born to be losers because of your sinfulness. “God couldn’t possibly love you,” the devil lies. “You’re simply no good.” As Lucy in the Peanut’s cartoon lashes out toward her friend, “You’re hopeless, Charlie Brown. Completely hopeless.” But that’s now how God sees you at all. 

          In the parables today in our Gospel text, Jesus begins, “The kingdom of heaven is like . . .” Our Lord tells us with these stories what the reign and rule of God is about and what God is doing in Jesus. The man and the merchant in Jesus’ parables did whatever it took in order to possess what each valued so highly—the treasure and the pearl—even to the point of selling everything he had!

You are the treasure. You are the pearl of great value. You are worth the very price of everything God has—the price and cost of His own Son’s sinless, holy life. 

          God the Son, Jesus, took on human flesh, without sin, so that He might make the perfect and full payment to redeem, to buy you back, from the power of sin, death, and the devil. Only Jesus, the sinless God-Man, could give His life as the ransom payment for many (Matt. 20:28).

          Christ’s death on the cross to purchase and win you back from sin, death, and the power of the devil was an act and expression of divine grace. In God’s rule and reign, you are a treasure and a pearl to your heavenly Father. Out of pure, fatherly divine goodness and mercy, He gave His one-of-a-kind Son to be your Savior. 1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish” (1 Peter 1:18-19 CSB). The Lord Jesus gave you His everything, His own perfect life to the death of a cross so that you would have forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus gave you His everything so that you are redeemed from the sin, death, and Satan. Christ bought you back so that you might be His own and live under Him in His kingdom. As the Apostle Peter declares, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV).

          God, through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus, has purchased you and made you His own treasured possession! The devil wants you to believe that you are worthless and inferior. He wants you to think that you were born to lose. But you are not! Because of the gift of God’s forgiveness and redemption through Jesus’ shed blood, you are reborn by grace through faith to win!

As the baptized children of God, you are already winners over the power of sin, Satan, and death. All your sin and guilt stands forgiven. You are able, through the power of the Holy Spirit who works through God’s Word and Sacraments, to say no to sin and overcome temptation. You have the guarantee and assurance of resurrection and life forever in the Lord’s new creation. There need be no doubt that you belong to Jesus and you have infinite value to Him.

          One of our Vacation Bible School songs this past week will help us to remember that in Jesus, we are winners. You received a copy of it with your worship folder this morning. Please, take it out now and listen or sing-along to Winners!

Winners!

Refrain:

Jesus Christ has won the victory! Praise God, we’re winners in Him.

Jesus Christ has won the victory! Praise God, we’re winners in Him.

Praise God, we’re winners in Him.

 

  1. Some days we feel like losers

Who never do things right.

But Jesus, our big brother,

Is with us in the fight.

Refrain

 

  1. We all need God’s forgiveness.

We’ve sinned; it’s sad, but true.

That’s why God sent a Savior

To die for me and you.

Refrain

 

  1. Because God says we’re winners

In Jesus Christ, our friend,

We love and serve and praise Him

With joy that will not end!

Refrain

Text: Jane Fryar. Tune: Bob Singleton. Text and tune: © 1996 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Permission granted to reproduce for the year of purchase.

 


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