What is it in your life that you want to hold onto for dear life?
It mite be your relationship, your children, your investments, your home, your health.
And the thing is when you value something, then you’ll do whatever it takes to hold on to it thru thick and thin.
When I watch football, the most important thing to do is to hold onto the ball, to pass it around and keep possession of it, isn’t it.
You don’t want to let go of it because it’ll end up in the opposition hands and so if you have control of the ball, you can dictate the passage of play.
So many times I see people take their eyes off the ball and lose control of it or miss opportunities because they lost focus.
And in the end they end up turning it over to the other team and the opportunities lost and squandered.
You can apply that rule for almost any ball sport between two teams.
Again - what do we hold onto in our lives then, that we have and value and want to treasure and hold onto in our lives – never to give up or let go of or take our eyes off?
What is it that you value over any and every other thing in the whole wide world?
What Jesus is saying here in these verses is that there’s nothing else in the whole entire universe that can match the priceless value of the kingdom of God.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
These are pretty easy verses to understand aren’t they, but why’s it so hard to actually get this rite in our heads?
Think back for a moment then, back in Jesus’ day they didn’t have banks and trust accounts or term deposits like we do.
If you had money or expensive items of worth, the best thing you could do is to bury it in the ground.
If someone came and looted your place, they couldn’t force you to open up the safe cause it was stashed out somewhere in the paddock.
It also gives a new meaning to a reserve bank doesn’t it?
Remember another parable Jesus told where a wealthy man gave three men some talents and two of them invested it to make more money and the third man did what with his talent??
He buried it in the ground cause he was afraid of losing it.
You see – it was a very common thing to do back in those days.
And just to clear up a common misconception, money wasn’t buried so husbands could stop their wives spending it all - although I can see the wisdom in doing that.
So while this guy was ploughing the field or harvesting it, he comes across this treasure and knowing he can’t take it back with him, he buries it again and takes note of where he buried it.
He realises he’s found something that’s much more valuable than what he’s already got, that he works out a legitimate and lawful plan to liquidate all his assets, to sell everything he has at a garage sale, purchase the field off the present owner and then the treasure could be rightfully his.
And just in case your wondering, the law worked back then with a finders keepers rule back in those days. If you found it, it was yours to keep.
The point of this parable is that the man found something so valuable he did whatever it took to get his hands on it.
He was so overjoyed in what he found, that he was willing to do anything to get his hands on that treasure.
Now let's look at the second parable of the pearl.
“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.”
This story you mite think is the same as the treasure but there’s a subtle difference here with the story of the pearl.
You notice a merchant goes around searching for what he wants.
He’s like a door to door salesman finding out if there’s anything you want to sell – in this case pearls.
This man is searching for this treasure – this pearl – and when he finds it he again sells all he has to obtain it.
He’ll stop at no lengths to obtain this treasure he’s spent his whole life searching for.
Pearls were very rare and expensive back in Jesus’ day.
If you had pearls you basically had a fortune.
Mat.7:6 says “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.”
It’s basically comparing what’s priceless to what’s worthless.
These merchants or travelling salespeople went from port to port buying and selling stuff to make a small profit.
They travelled in packs across the desert in caravans together.
They were selling merchandise to make money and trade items, which you couldn’t buy in your local corner store.
This pearl the man found was the highest quality pearl you could ever imagine.
And this guy knew his pearls well, he knew what he was looking for and he knew high quality when he saw it.
He could distinguish a dud pearl and a great pearl and this was certainly the greatest pearl you could ever want.
And once he finds this pearl, he says I’ve now found what I’ve been looking for. The perfect pearl.
Everything about this pearl was just rite.
And so he went and sold all his other pearls to obtain this one perfect pearl.
The problem with so many people today is that we’re going round looking for what we think will make us happy.
It’s like we’re looking for fine pearls and we pick up that which is a little off colour, a little imperfection, one that’s not so round and we’re happy with it thinking it will satisfy our desires.
But when the kingdom of God is opened up to us and we see the beauty and majesty of what God’s offering us, then it’s true value and beauty will reflect on what we see as important in our lives.
My prayer for us is that we will see the kingdom of God be like that thing we will want to hold onto for dear life – for the rest of our lives.
That we will never take our eyes off the prize or lose focus.
The treasure had to be found, the pearl had to be sought.
What we have in Christ isn’t obvious to everyone.
The value and preciousness of the kingdom of God and the value and preciousness of salvation thru Christ isn’t apparent to all people.
Yet it’s looking at us in the eye.
What we need in life isn’t an antiques roadshow turning up in our lives but Jesus.
People don’t understand that they’re blind to this treasure and you don’t have to be the best, you just have to realise you’re the worst. And in so doing you need help.
Much like this story taken from the Sydney Morning Herald in Dec.1957.
A young golfer searching for a lost ball yesterday found a tin of gold estimated to be worth £300. Allan Stain, 20, a shearer, was playing at Peak Hill golf course. And of course Peak Hill, situated between Parkes and Dubbo, was the scene of one of the State’s biggest gold rushes last century. The golf course is built on the worked-out goldfield area. Stain was practising on his own when he sliced a shot into the rough. After searching for several minutes for the ball, he kicked over a pile of dirt and rock to see whether it was underneath. From the centre of the pile of dirt, a stream of alluvial gold spilled from a badly corroded battered tin. Stain collected the gold, and, while looking around to see if there were more tins hidden in the dirt, he also found the lost ball. He thought the gold may have been buried last century by a miner who had either forgotten the hiding place or died before he could recover his hoard.
What this tells me is it pays to be bad at golf.
Of course it pays to aim for the fairway – but sometimes it pays even more to have a good slice.
You see, you don’t stumble across God, he comes to you.
All we have to do is look in the rite place and open our eyes to the treasure we hold in our hands – the bible.
I also don’t want you going away thinking this passage tells us we have to sell everything we have to get to heaven, although some cults will use this passage to tell you otherwise.
What this passage is saying to us this morning, what is it that you would do to get into heaven.
What would you gladly give up?
If you’re holding onto something or you cant let go of something in your life for the sake of heaven, that’s not.
Jesus gave up his all for something that meant a lot to him.
He gave up his life on a cross for our sake.
It’s like he went and purchased that treasure for us, he went and gave all he had so we could see the true value of the pearl.
What Jesus is saying here is Heaven isn’t out of reach, it’s not unobtainable.
It’s there for all of us to have.
All we have to do is realise its worth and make it a priority in our lives to follow and trust Jesus.
What would you give up for Jesus? For heaven?
What does the immense value of Jesus giving up everything he had for us mean to you?
The treasure and the pearl are the same thing. They both represent the kingdom of God.
But what is it that we have to give up to obtain this beauty and wealth.
We just have to look and open our eyes.
The story of one of the greatest theologians of all time, Charles Hadden Spurgeon always strikes me when I read thru it. When he was young, he often attended church because it was the thing to do, but he didn't know Christ. And he wasn't seeking Christ. He was content with his life. He was only fifteen years old, and on New Year's morning, and he decided it would be proper to go to church. There was such a blizzard of snow that he was not able to reach the church he was in the habit of attending. "When I could go no farther," he said, "I turned down a court and came to a little primitive Methodist church. The preacher who was to have conducted the service, never got there because he was held up by the weather, and quickly one of the officers had to be brought forward to conduct the service with the congregation of perhaps 15 people. The man, said Spurgeon, was really stupid. His text was - Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. And he just kept repeating it because he didn't have anything else to say."
And something about young Spurgeon caught the preacher's eye. "Young man, he said suddenly, "You look very miserable. Miserable in life and miserable in death, you will be if you don't obey my text." And suddenly he literally shouted, "Young man, look to Jesus, look, look, look."
And said Spurgeon, "I looked. And then and there the cloud was gone and the darkness rolled away and that moment I saw Jesus. I don't know who that stupid guy was that just kept repeating the text, but it was of God.
Spurgeon didn’t go to church searching for anything but God got his man in the end.
Spurgeon had stumbled onto this fortune.
The apostle Paul also reminds us in Phil.3:7-8.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”
All the things Paul treasured in this world is now considered rubbish, refuse, dung, compared to knowing Christ.
But what exactly is it that we’re told to give up or consider rubbish or sell to gain this treasure?
I think the first thing we have to part with is the sin in our lives.
We have to say no to sin and give it all up to say yes to Christ.
And secondly if we say yes to Christ and he’s the focus and priority in our life, then we must stop putting things before him.
It mite be the house or farm, the investments, the bank account, the security.
Because Jesus says, you can’t have sin or idols in your life and have the pearl as well.
You can’t have sin and worldly satisfaction and want the treasure you know can be yours.
If you know you want the treasure or the pearl, then what’s stopping you?
What’s the thing you need to let go of so you can finally achieve Christ in your life?
Buying a field or buying the pearl wasn’t going to come cheaply. It’ll mean a lot of hard work and it will come at a cost, wont it?
Sure there was hard work involved but when he found that treasure, it was the best day of his life.
This guy realised his life will never be the same again.
And with joy comes commitment.
Everything that was needed to go, went.
Whatever was necessary to obtain that field or that pearl was done with joy and commitment.
Notice too that in discovering the treasure and discovering the pearl, there was much joy and delight in the eyes of those who found it.
In vs44 the word joy is often overlooked.
When the man found the treasure, he didn’t go away thinking it couldn’t be done, he didn’t go and sell everything he had under sufferance.
He was joyful.
There’s much joy to be had as people who have found this treasure but notice there’s hard work involved also.
They didn’t get this treasure by being an overnight success.
Their number just didn’t come up in the lottery results overnite.
What the stories don’t tell us is all the work they put in between finding the treasure and buying the field.
All the things the merchant had to sell off and organise before he could buy the pearl he had is eye on.
Let me finish by telling you one day on your headstone it will have your name, some whimsical quote about your life the date you were born and the date you died.
But inbetween those dates will be a little dash and that little dash will represent everything you did in life.
No one will know what that dash represents but you.
Let me finish by asking you then, what’s the dash in your life going to represent?
What’s the treasure in your life going to be?
What have you worked at the most in your life and what have you achieved?
Is Jesus something your going to hold onto dearly in your life so that he becomes that treasure or that pearl you’ve been searching for and striving to attain?