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Treasure, Pearl and Dragnet Jesus! What Joy!

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Eighth Sunday after Pentecost                Trinity Lutheran Church

30 July 2017                                                Murdock, NE

 

Matthew 13:44-50

 

Three more parables! This is the third week in a row. Jesus is on a roll. Preacher of parables par excellence! Jesus is quite subversive with parables. He’s got an agenda. It is the agenda of salvation. He compares His Holy Week suffering and Good Friday death for all sin and every sinner to a treasure, a priceless pearl and a fisherman’s dragnet. Leave it to Jesus to preach like this. It’s really quite delicious and delightful for those who have ears to hear what Jesus is proclaiming.

 

After all, when God exercises His full and total reign over sinners … by the Good Friday death and Easter resurrection of His Son Jesus in order to save them, it’s like hitting the lottery! Being given the salvational Pick Six. It comes so staggeringly, so undeservingly and so unexpectedly that it brings such enormous joy and immense delight that Jesus compares it to a man who stumbles upon a hidden extravagant treasure on a piece of property, quickly covers it up, buries it, sells absolutely everything he has and sprints as fast as he can to buy the entire field so that the treasure is his. Lucky stiff! It’s as if he’s just won the lottery! He has! The salvational one!

 

Salvation that comes totally and freely to undeserving sinners through the cross of Jesus is so astonishing and amazing that He compares it a fine jewelry buyer who comes across a priceless, precious pearl, liquidates all his assets and personal property in order to buy it so that it is his. Lucky stiff! It’s as if he’s won Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes! He has! The salvific one!

 

The redemption of the entire world that Jesus achieves by His divine sacrificial blood that reddens the cosmos as it pours forth profusely from His crucified body is so jubilantly flabbergasting that Jesus compares it to a dragnet that nets every kind of fish imaginable, good as well as bad. The fish are sorted out only when the boat comes to shore which is a picture of how it will go for believers and unbelievers on the Last Day.

 

It is one thing to believe that Jesus suffered, died and rose again. Satan even knows that. So do even the most stubborn so-called skeptics, agnostics or even atheists. However, it is something entirely and salvationally different when you believe that Jesus lived, died and rose from the cemetery grave FOR ME!

 

Well, I’m here to tell you that that is precisely the case. This is what makes all the difference! It is the salvation game changer. Jesus died FOR YOU. He took all your sin in His body and all its damnation in your place. He rose from the dead with all your sin buried in the black hole of His empty tomb. He is the Resurrection and the Life, not just in the future, but even now – FOR YOU. He says so. Listen. “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears My word and believe Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment but has passed from death to life,” (John 5:24). Here’s another one for good measure. “He who believes in Me,” Jesus promises, “though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die,” (John 11:25-26).

 

Jesus died and rose FOR YOU. St. Paul preaches it this way: “Christ died for the ungodly,” (Romans 5:6) Incredible! Outstanding! Staggering! Mind-blowing! Merrily mindboggling! Oh, the joy!

 

The treasure or pearl of salvation in Jesus is worth owning, having or better yet – BELIEVING than anything in the world. No matter what the cost!

 

The man sold everything “in his joy.” In his joy of finding, stumbling on, or better yet – being given the treasure of salvation in Jesus – he unloaded his entire life because he now knew just how rich he really was. Again, Jesus isn’t giving advice on sweet real estate deals or how to invest wisely. Jesus is talking salvation! Salvation that He gives. He is the treasure. He is the pearl. So one buys the entire field. Another buys the pearl simply for the sake of having the treasure – SALVATION IN JESUS!

 

Nothing compares with having salvation given to you by Jesus. Living under His Good Friday forgiveness is a treasure worth renouncing your security, your wealth, your works, your self-justification, even your entire life. Everything in this life pales in comparison with having Treasure and Pearl Jesus. Seriously. Don’t forget the four fisherman: Peter, Andrew, James and John. They … LEFT EVERYTHING they had – boats, nets, the family business – to follow Jesus. Think of Matthew the tax collector. He heard Jesus say “Follow me.” Immediately he got up out of his chair, closed his computer, and followed Jesus. Oh, he also hung up a sign on the defunct tax booth that blurted: “Gone fishing … with Jesus!”

 

Think of the opposite. The rich young man. He wanted to work His way into salvation. Jesus flat out told him: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me,” (Matthew 19:21). What did the man do? Remember? The young man found the price tag to steep and he returned home with a sad face. Why? Well, he failed to grasp by faith the enormous value of the TREASURE or PEARL hidden under the ordinary appearance of Jesus. He was still rich materially but he was bankrupt spiritually without TREASURE and PEARL JESUS.

 

I warn you. Don’t be like the rich young man. Jesus is God FOR YOU. He became crucifixionally poor so that you can be rich – having Him – the treasure and pearl of salvation. Again, I repeat. It is one thing to know that Jesus lived, died and rose. But what saves you is that you believe that He did that FOR YOU! That He died and rose to give you the gift, treasure or pearl of redemption.

 

Well, I’m running out of time and you’ve been so kind to listen for so long. Let me just say a few things about the dragnet. This too is immensely and salvifically incredible.

 

“Again the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind.” When Jesus does His Good Friday death it is not like line fishing, baitfishing, fly fishing or sport fishing where He only catches one at a time or just a few very discriminately.

 

Instead, Jesus is like the indiscriminate deep-sea fishermen (you know the TV Deadliest Catch kind) that trawl with a huge net in order to bring in an enormously huge haul. Big. Little. Sharks. Tuna. Trout. Bass. Perch. Swordfish. Sting Rays. Walleye. Snapper. You name the fish. The dragnet nets them. And who know what else! Bottles. Boots. Tires. All sorts of garbage and disposable waste!

 

Christ’s cross is the gigantic crane, winch or hoist that pulls up the dragnet full of every kind of fish/sinner. Jesus doesn’t discriminate. He died for all sinners. For all sin. That’s how the kingdom of heaven works. Jesus’ death is the trawling net that reaches out into the world. It embraces the entire world and everyone in the world. There is no one for whom Jesus did not die. There is no one that cannot possess as their very own the hidden treasure of the kingdom or the perfect pearl of great price. Jesus’ death and resurrection is proclaimed to all people. The good. The bad. The believing. The unbelieving. In the end everyone dies and everyone rises on the Last Day when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead. That’s when the sorting is done by His angels.

 

Until then, the very treasure or pearl of the kingdom’s salvation is given today. TO and FOR YOU. Priceless treasure. Kingdom treasure. You are lucky stiffs too! You’ve won the salvation lottery. Better yet, it’s been given to you. It is as if you have stumbled on to the eternal hidden treasure and pearl of eternal life. You too have been dragnet-ed and as far as Jesus is concerning you’re a keeper. I’m here to tell you that because Jesus died and went into the blackness of death and hell FOR YOU ALL YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN. I’ll tell you again when you eat and drink the Lord’s body and blood in a few minutes. “Give and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Those words are hidden treasure and the priceless pearl! What joy! Nothing compares to that! It’s everything! It is the kingdom of heaven right now on the earth. Nothing will keep you from having it and enjoying it. Right? What would prevent you? Nothing! After all, Jesus is everything!

 

In the Name of Jesus.

Colossians and Ephesians Part Twenty-Two

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Colossians and Ephesians Part Twenty-One

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The Lord’s Compassionate Care for His Wheat!

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Seventh Sunday after Pentecost              Trinity Lutheran Church

23 July 2017                                                Murdock, NE

 

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

 

Here we go again. Another parable. In addition, Jesus blurts out His high pastoral care with these words: “Do you have ears? Then you’d better listen up!”

 

In other words, you need to hear today’s parable of wheat and weeds with the ears and heart of faith! Trusting that Jesus alone is your Savior. That He died FOR YOU. Rose from the grave victoriously FOR YOU! That His Good Friday blood covers all your sin. It’s all atoned for! And that God’s wrath has been silenced. His resurrection guarantees your resurrection to eternal life on the Day of Judgment. Do you believe that? Good! Then on the Last Day you will shine like the sun in the kingdom of God the Father in which Good Friday Jesus reigns forever and ever.

 

If you don’t believe the good news of this gospel, if you oppose and refuse Jesus, His Good Friday death and His Good Friday filled words of forgiveness, then you will weep and gnash your teeth eternally as you will forevermore endure God’s wrath in the fiery furnace of hell.

 

So when Jesus, like last week, says: “Do you have ears? Then listen up,” your salvation is at stake. Either you believe and have eternal life or you don’t believe and you have eternal damnation and death. As you believe or do not believe so you have.

 

The parable of the wheat and the weeds has two points. First, it deals with the future – the Last Day. Judgment Day. In the end Jesus will be vindicated. The seed that He sows ultimately bears fruit – eternal life. Again, those are His believers, the wheat. The seed sown by the devil (the weeds) is destroyed in the end. Yes, in the end, the weeds HAVE NO LASTING EFFECT on the wheat harvest. The weeds DO NO PERMANENT DAMAGE to the Lord’s wheat harvest!

THE WEEDS DO NOT DESTROY THE WHEAT. In the end Jesus prevails because He has already won with His death on the cross. He is the Lord of the harvest field. He is the Savior of the world. He is the Redeemer of all. So nothing, not the devil nor his lies can deny or destroy Christ’s harvest of the wheat.

 

The second part of the parable concerns the present: the here and now. At the moment both wheat and weeds, good and evil, Jesus and the devil, faith and unbelief are all in the field. They’re all mixed up together. Jesus sows the good seed of His faith-creating gospel Word. However, Satan is right there too sowing doubt, despair, and unbelief. Where Jesus does His work, the devil stirs up mischief. Just where Jesus is closest to you, in His Word and Sacrament, in the church, in the divine service – THAT IS WHERE THE DEVIL mounts his greatest threat.

It goes like this? Just like in Genesis 3. “Did Jesus really say that? You can’t trust Him. He’s holding out on you. Baptism doesn’t give you anything. The sermon and absolution really weren’t for you. Bread and wine can’t give you the Good Friday body and blood of Jesus let alone forgiveness. Good grief. Get a grip! Jesus really doesn’t forgive sinners like you. You’d better see to it yourself.” Are you getting it? Are your ears hearing? Are you listening? God’s Word and sacraments are given and Satan is right there. He whispers his lies. He works his mischief. He entices you to doubt Jesus and His word and to trust yourself as if you are your own savior with your own salvific words.

 

Satan is Jesus’ enemy. He will do anything to oppose Jesus and His work FOR YOU. Therefore, he sows his weeds. Densely. Thickly. Profusely. Copiously. So many weeds that the servants question the owner of the field: “You did plant good seed, right?” It’s as if the owner of the field doesn’t have a clue. That He’s a doofus! Look at the field! It’s full of weeds!

 

Stop that! Don’t focus on the weeds. That’s a mistake. Pay attention to the weeds and you lose sight of … THE WHEAT and you begin to doubt the Sower of the good seed. If you focus your attention on what is wrong with the field, then you’ll lose sight of the ONE THING that is right with the field. What’s that? That God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life! The one thing right in this world is Jesus. He is the Good Friday-ed and Easter-ed Sower of the good news of salvation. So, if your focus is on the bad things that happen in the world, you will conclude that there is something wrong with God – like – He’s not as merciful as He claims to be otherwise He would do something about things. Or He’s not as all-powerful as He claims to be because there is so much evil in this world. But God has done something. He has given His Son into death FOR YOU! FOR YOUR SALVATON!

 

The parable gives another perspective. Another alternative. “An enemy did this.” Again, Jesus has His enemies. So do you as His died for believers. When you see or experience sin, disease or death don’t blame God or His Word. “An enemy did this,” Jesus says. Neither the Sower nor the seed is responsible for the weeds. That is the devil’s planting, not the Lord’s.

 

Until Judgment Day, that is, as we live in the present, what is to be done about the weeds among the wheat? Well, if you’re an activist, a doer, one that won’t live by faith but instead by sight, you insist on doing something. Immediately! Yank the weeds now and cut the losses. Crank up the weed eaters and start whacking down those noxious weeds!

 

Farmer, Sower Jesus won’t do that. He has another plan of action. Inaction! “Do nothing! Nada! Not a thing! Let both grow together … until the harvest comes.”

 

So, until Judgment Day, both the wheat and the weeds get the same treatment. They get the same water. The same sunshine. The same compost. The same cultivating. No playing favorites. Just like Scripture says: “God causes his rain to fall on the good and wicked alike,” (Mt 5:45).

 

Wow! Incredible! Not a single weed is to be pulled out by the roots or cut down prematurely. Put down the Round Up. Shut off the weed whackers. Put all that out of your minds. Don’t even go there! The angels at the Lord’s command will take care of the weeds at harvest time. But for now, the wheat and the weeds, good and evil, faith and unbelief will live together in the same field.

 

While the servants are preoccupied with the weeds, Jesus is preoccupied with His wheat! Did you notice that His disciples asked, “Explain to us the parable of the WEEDS in the field,”? What were they concerned about? Yes, weeds! But I’m here to tell you that the parable is about the wheat!

 

The passion of the Sower for His wheat is God’s passion in Jesus to SAVE YOU! Why does God tolerate all the evil in the world? All the mischief of His enemy, the devil? Why doesn’t He just erase all of it right now? Well, the shocking but simple answer is this. It is so that you come to fruitful faith in Jesus and be raised from the dead by clinging to Jesus for your salvation.

 

This calls for patience. For endurance. For the daily dying to your sin and the devil’s lies. For the daily renewal of faith in Jesus who took all your sin in His Body on the cross and answered for it. He has forgiven you of everything. All your doubt of His Word and promises. All your anger at Him. All your mistrust. Name the sin. It’s forgiven. Covered with His divine, Good Friday blood.

 

For now, thanks be to God, Jesus is carefully cultivating you to trust only in Him. He will see to it that you, you grains of wheat are not lost.

 

In the end, on the Last Day, it is the Lord’s harvest. No matter what the devil sows in this life, it all winds up supporting the Lord’s harvest in the resurrection of the body. On Judgment Day the entire field will be uprooted – wheat and weeds, faith and unbelief, good and evil. You, the wheat, will be gathered into the barns of heaven. The weeds will be burned. Jesus, who directs His harvesting angels is the same Jesus who died on the cross FOR YOU. He baptized you. Gave you His saving Name. He absolves you. He gives you His body and blood.

 

YOU ARE A PRECIOUS PLANTING AND HARVEST to Jesus. So precious that He’s willing to put up with a few weeds. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

Colossians and Ephesians Part Twenty

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Colossians and Ephesians Part Nineteen

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Colossians and Ephesians Part Eighteen

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