One of my most prized possessions is a 1965 Martin D-35 guitar. It is in mint condition and worth a lot! If I were to sell it today, I’d make thousands on it. One of my most prized possessions is a 1965 Martin D-35 guitar. It is in mint condition and worth a lot! If I were to sell it today, I’d make thousands on it.
This guitar has a fun story behind its purchase. About twenty-five years ago or so, my dad was listening to a morning radio show, kind of a swap shop. People would call in with things to sell or trade. That morning a voice came over the air announcing this individual had a Martin guitar for sale for $400. My dad was immediately interested! The guy brought the guitar over to the house. One look at it, and my dad had his checkbook out and was writing a check for $400. (It was worth 10 times that.) You see, my dad knew a bargain when he saw one.
Jesus, in our passage for today, told a couple stories to His disciples that have the same sort of feel to them. At an early stage in His ministry, Jesus was beginning to run into more and more opposition. This kingdom movement He was announcing was not quite picking up the momentum the disciples thought it might. Only twelve actually signed on and committed. There are rumblings of a conspiracy by Jesus’ opponents to kill Him and snuff out the ministry. The disciples had to have been concerned about their own welfare. They had left comforts behind to follow Jesus, and it might have had them wondering if following Jesus and serving Him was really worth it.
Jesus addressed the question with two parables. He said the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure, a valuable pearl. It was so valuable, the people who found it went after it for all they were worth in order to possess it. They knew a bargain when it was staring them in the face.
Some things in this story you can’t help but notice. Number one, the different ways these valuable objects were found. One person stumbled upon the treasure. The other person – a merchant – searched for the pearl. People come to Christ in a variety of ways, maybe He is saying. They may stumble upon Him, or they may go for a long search to find Him by examining other philosophies, and so on.
The second thing we notice is the people in these parables sold everything they had because they knew a bargain when they saw one. They couldn’t help themselves – they wanted to possess it.
These two parables basically serve as analogies about the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of heaven means the kingdom of God. Jesus is not talking going to heaven so much, but about being under the rule of God. We know it will come in its fullness someday, and every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord. Everyone will love God, and love one another as God intended. We will live under Him in His kingdom under the Lordship of Jesus.
Jesus was talking about His rule and His reign, not just in the world to come, but in our personal lives as well. God wants to have a relationship with us, which only will come through Jesus Christ. When Jesus announces the kingdom, in all likelihood Jesus is also pointing to Himself. One theologian wrote, “Jesus spoke of the kingdom of God, and He was the kingdom of God.” It’s true! Jesus said God’s kingdom is the most valuable possession a person can ever own.
One might ask what makes this kingdom, this relationship so valuable. First of all, it is valuable because I am a sinner. I am separated from God and in need of forgiveness for my sins. I have a tendency to thumb my nose in the face of God, to think I can run my own show without Him. In Christ there is forgiveness for my sins.
The kingdom of God is also valuable because I am a mortal being. Someday I’m going to die. Jesus says, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This kingdom is the promise of eternity living with God.
Finally, it is valuable because I am spiritually dead without God in my life. Jesus said, “I came that you may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). He gives me purpose and peace. Jesus knows what makes life work. This spiritual wealth of the kingdom demonetizes all other earthly currencies because it’s eternal, it’s free, and it’s life-giving.
The most remarkable thing about this valuable treasure is it’s free for the receiving! I cannot earn it, only receive it like a beggar with empty hands. I have nothing to offer for it. It comes to us by God’s grace. Jesus Christ gave His all in order to possess me that I might have Him. I have been bought with a price at the cross. His holy and precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death have made it possible for me to have a reconciled relationship with the heavenly Father who loves me. Only through Christ, only through entry into His kingdom is it possible.
Jesus’ appeal to a sinner like me or you is to repent and believe the good news. That’s what Jesus said when He announced the kingdom. The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe this good news. It’s the response He is looking for from us. To repent, basically is to turn from the direction we have been going and follow Him. We entrust our lives and our futures to His care and His leadership. To repent is to surrender ourselves and step into His kingdom. To believe is simply to trust, to bet the farm, to build my life upon His promises. It just might be someone who is listening to this broadcast is in a place where he or she needs to do just that – repent and believe. It’s easy to get off track.
To all in our world who have lost their spiritual bearings, this Jesus Christ still comes and offers the treasure and the pearl, which carry with them the promise of eternal life – indescribable, imperishable riches. As of old comes His challenge to this person: Follow me; I am the true and living way to God. If I offer you a cross, I also offer you a crown. If I offer you struggle, I also offer victory. Look life in the face and look death in the face and sum it all up. Make your decision – come follow Me.
If you have received Jesus into your life like those first disciples who originally heard these two stories, hear what He is saying, Yes, it is worth it! Trust Me. Enjoy your riches. Hang onto them. Grow in them. Praise God for them.
If you are in the kingdom, if you are in Jesus Christ, you are rich. Just listen to some of these witnesses.
The Apostle Paul, looking back on his life before He knew Christ, described all these earthly things he had going for him. All those riches were set aside when he followed Jesus. And if someone were to ask him about this tough sacrifice, he would have responded, Sacrifice? What sacrifice? I count everything as garbage in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ!
The hymn writer, Isaac Watts, wrote in his great hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,”
Were the whole realm of nature mine.
That were an offering far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Jim Elliott, a missionary who was martyred at the age of 32 in South America, said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Many years ago I was at a conference doing youth work. I was listening to a speaker, a young woman, say, “If you were to give your child anything in the world, what would it be?” Then she answered her own question, “It would be a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” She went on to explain that Christ has made all the difference in her life. So of course, she wants her children to know Jesus as well.
In 1987, the Minnesota Twins, who I cheer for, clinched the 1987 division and were getting ready to play in the World Series. Greg Gagne, the great shortstop on the team, was asked, “Is this the biggest moment of your life? It has to be!” by a news reporter. “No,” Greg replied. “The biggest moment of my life is when I asked Jesus Christ to take over my life.”
P. T. Forsyth, a great prophetic preacher of the past century, wrote these wonderful words: “I should count a life well spent in a world well lost if, after tasting all its experiences and facing all its problems, I had no more to show at its close or carry with me into another world than the acquisition of a real, sure, humble, and grateful faith in the eternal Son of God.” Beautiful words. Beautiful testimony.
In our church, we sing a song by a fellow named Dennis Jernigan, who has written some wonderful contemporary Christian songs. He says, “You are my strength, Jesus. When I am weak, you are the treasure that I keep. You are my all in all.”
Folks, if you have run into some rough patches in your life and are asking if following Jesus is really worth it, if you are facing the ridicule of people from whom you want respect and friendship, if you are having the same doubts those first disciples must have had and you are asking if it is worth it to stand up for Jesus and serve Him, Jesus’ word to you today is this: A relationship with Me is more valuable than anything this world has to offer. It’s more valuable than any object.
I have a home that is worth, I imagine, $250,000 or so. Not bad. But being part of God’s kingdom is more valuable than my home.
I have a couple cars. They’re worth something too. God’s kingdom is more valuable than any car.
I have a great instrument to play – a D-35 Martin guitar. God’s kingdom is more valuable than any instrument you might possess.
I have a bank account and a pension to take care of me. More valuable than that.
A relationship with Christ is more valuable than any other relationship – even your spouse or your family or your friends. More valuable than any experience or adventure this world might have to offer you.
This is the message today. Jesus stands before you and says, Do you see a bargain when you’re staring at one? If you have never received Jesus Christ in your life, you are poor because you’re going to die and leave all your earthly possessions behind. Only through Christ can we become rich – truly, eternally rich.
My appeal to you today would be, ask Christ into your life today. Surrender yourself to His care, and direction. Begin to walk with Him. He alone holds the treasures God wants you to possess.
If you already are following Him, Christ is speaking to you today as well, my friend. He is saying, Keep following. Keep serving. It is worth it, because if you are in Christ, you are eternally rich. Amen.
Rev. Steve Kramer