24 July 2011
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
So how much are you willing to give up? Have you gone and sold everything and purchased that field for the treasure? That pearl of great price? No? Then how worthy do you think you are?
That's the point of this parable, isn't it? That you need to be ready to get rid of everything and follow Jesus, right? You need to be so dedicated that, like some medieval monk, you give up all your earthly wealth and influence to make peace with God and seek His kingdom, that you may have eternal life.
But wait! Does that sound right? Does this sound like what Jesus would really say? No! Not at all! How on earth could you do anything to purchase the kingdom of God? Think about it! That is all wrong. We are brought back to the question you must ask: in our Lord's parables, who is doing the verbs?
Did you actually think --even for a moment -- that it is you? Did you really think that it is up to you to give things up and purchase anything? How can you? "All your righteous deeds are filthy rags!" Even your best is wretched before our holy God. There is not even a remote possibility of paying for anything He does, much less your salvation and entrance into His kingdom!
So no, you cannot be the doer of the verbs here. And the is some sinful arrogance that needs to be put in check, if you have ever thought you can "do your part" in obtaining the kingdom. The thought that Jesus has saved us from sin, and life is yours "if you only...(insert your work here)," is actually false teaching.
"Jesus died for you, now you decide to follow Him." "Jesus saved you, now you just gotta do this, or pray that to invite Him into your heart." And so on. These are heresies, that say somehow you contribute to your salvation. Mark and avoid those thoughts and the preachers who teach them! Such teaching can endanger you!
When you give credence to such teaching, you defy God. You reject His full and free forgiveness and life, given through Jesus Christ.
Repent! Repent of thinking that you can somehow cooperate with Christ and make a difference in your own salvation. When you actually think that somehow you are the one giving up and purchasing the field or pearl of great price, you put yourself in Christ's place, and make yourself God--repent!
So who does the verbs? It is Jesus! Jesus alone! He is the one who acts and speaks. He is the one who has found the treasure of His Church, covered her up in Holy Baptism, and purchased her with His holy and innocent suffering and death.
In the 1930's, the British Empire was stirred up. King Edward VIII had fallen in love with an American divorcee named Wallis Simpson. Edward had been raised his entire life to be king, yet found he felt it impossible to carry out his duties "without the woman [he] love[d]." He abdicated the throne--gave up everything--to be with her.
Our Lord Jesus gave up everything too. Mrs. Simpson may have been a divorcee, but we in the Church are guilty of being chronic adulterers. We go chasing after other gods, and are often unfaithful to the true Lord.
Yet Christ, the perfect bridegroom, and King of Kings and Lord of lords laid aside everything to be with His Bride. By taking on the lowliness of human flesh for you, He bought His holy Bride, and cleansed her from all sin -- even the sin of straying from the holy Bridegroom and chasing after other people and situations that you find attractive.
Edward VIII did this out of a little selfishness and chose to escape His duties as King. He chose his bride and turned from his kingdom. Jesus, on the other hand, has done this out of self-less love, which serves His Bride in His kingdom. Through all of this, Jesus has rescued you and serves you, giving gifts to you and making you His holy Bride.
Rejoice, dear friends in Christ. Your dear Savior is the King who has found you, and paid the great price to keep you. He gave everything up, suffering and dying to gather you into His kingdom. He counts you as far more valuable than pearls or great treasure. He covers you in Baptism, and places you safely in His kingdom, where you will remain as He nourishes, forgives, and sustains you with His Word and Holy Sacraments. Amen.