Friday, July 25, 2014

Proper 12

Proper 12
27 July 2014
Matthew 13: 44-52

Heavenly Father, grant me Your righteousness and entrance into Your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Jesus presents for us three great parables. They speak your life story. They remind you of who you are and whose you are. And, they speak about your mission.

Some of you, just don’t know, what you have missed, not growing up in my world. In my world, we witnessed some of the greatest television drama ever seen! It was classic! From September 26, 1962 to March 23, 1971 - we would gather around the television. Every. Single. Week - To watch…”The Beverly Hillbillies.” 

Thanks to syndication, you can too, can join me, to relieve the glory days!

The series is about a poor, backwoods, family transplanted to Beverly Hills, California, after striking oil on their land.

The series starts each week by introducing us to Jed Clampett, an impoverished mountaineer. “He barely kept his family fed.” He discovers oil on his swamp-land while hunting for dinner. The theme song introduces us to the world's most fortunate hunting accident. Jed shoots at game but instead hits "black gold, Texas tea." He had discovered oil.   

Jed moves with his family to wealthy community of Beverly Hills, California. He brings a moral, unsophisticated and simple lifestyle to a swanky, sometimes, self-obsessed and superficial community.

Jed moves into a mansion next door to his banker, Mr. Milburn Drysdale, of the Commerce Bank of Beverly Hills.

Frequently, plots in the series involve the outlandish efforts, taken by Mr. Drysdale, to keep the Clampetts in Beverly Hills. And their money in his bank. The family's periodic attempts to return to the mountains were often prompted by Granny. Due to a perceived slight, she received from one of those uppity "city-folk."

Each week, Mr. Drysdale’s mission is always the same. Keep the Clampett’s in Beverly Hills. Keep their money in the bank. Because... Because The OK Oil Company has paid Jed Clampett  his fortune to acquire the rights to drill on his land. 

You see, the OK Oil Company had discovered a gold mind. They are willing to give Jed a house and a few million in exchange for the billions they will acquire through continuous drilling.   

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. 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. –Matthew 13:44-46

Poor Jed Clampett. He never really gets it! He’s still nothing but a Hillbilly!  Even if he’s living in Beverly Hills! He’s content to live in a fancy house. Next to fancy people. He has a cement pond out back. He serves dinner on “a fancy eatin’ table”, which is, in reality, a billiards table.

We laugh at his short sidedness.  He never discovered the true treasure that he really had. He remains in poverty although he had millions. He could have had more. He just didn’t get it. 

The old song sings, “Not the labors of my hands could fulfill Thy law’s demands.”  Your worth before God is found in the difference between two words, “Do” and “Done.” God does not love you because of your awesomeness. He doesn’t love you because of your attempts of keeping the Law. For none of us can keep the Law of God perfectly. No matter how hard we try! For every time we attempt to keep the Law of God, we fail miserably!  The Father loves you for the sake of Christ.  Thanks be to God! Christ has done all the heavy lifting for you, for me, for the entire world! 

According to the Beverly Hillbillies - the field is Jed’s swamp. The treasure is the oil under Jed’s property. And the man is the OK Oil Company, who purchases that land, to make billions of dollars for themselves.

According to Jesus - The field as the world. The treasurer is you! Yes, you, the hearer of these wonderful words. And the man, of course, is the Father, who sends us His Son, who gives up the glory of heaven to win you back.

In the parables of both the hidden treasure and the precious pearl, Jesus reinforces this basic truth; we inherit the kingdom by grace through faith in Christ, who purchased and redeemed us with His precious blood.

These parables share the hope and assurance that we have in Jesus Christ. They tell us how Jesus sacrificed His life so that you now have life in Him. What we have received by His grace, we pass on to those around us.  For your work is not in vain.

Our Epistle reading for this morning is the backdrop in understanding these two great parables.  It’s St. Paul’s crown jewel of the Gospel. It’s read at nearly every Christian funeral. It has been shared and prayed at the hospital. In the home. Around the family altar.

Picture in your mind’s eye, an engagement ring. The ring is the Bible. The setting is the book of Roman. The diamond is chapter eight.  “He spared not His own Son but gave Him up for us all.” - Romans 8:28-39

Consider where you find yourself today. God is not at a distance. All is not lost.  Christ gave up His heavenly glory when He took on human form. Jesus Christ. True God and true man. He came down to His created earth and creatures. To bring you back to the Father. To reconcile you. To make you whole again.  By His precious body and blood. Shed on Calvary’s cross.  You receive forgiveness of your sins.

These parables. They’re always about Jesus. In the parable of the hidden treasure, the Man sold all that he had to purchase that one field.  The valued object– the treasure - is the redemption of the entire world.  God so loved the world. In His conversation with Nicodemus at night, Jesus reminds us, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believe in Him, will not perish, but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ” –John 3:16-17 The God-man, Jesus Christ, gives up His life in exchange for the many.

In the Parable of the pearl of great value, the merchant sold all he had for just one pearl. Jesus was willing to die - for you. St. Paul explains it this way, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:6-8 You inherit the kingdom by grace through faith in Christ, who purchase and redeemed you with His precious blood. God made him who had no sin to be sin offering for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 1 Corinthians 5:21

You, yes, you are that valued object - you are of much worth.  The God-man Jesus Christ gives up His life in exchange for your life of misery and sin.

Finally, the Parable of the dragnet of fish.  A dragnet was drawn through the water between two boats onto the shore. Fish of ever kind…good…and bad come ashore. When the net was full, edible and inedible fish were sorted from one another.  As Weeds were allowed to grow over a period of time last week, here there is no delay in the sorting of the fish.

God’s rule includes a final judgment at the close of the age. You need not worry about that day. The Father is gracious to you through His Son, our Savior, in who you are chosen. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” -Ephesians 1:4. Thus we are encouraged to pray, Let not my heart be troubled dear Lord, by thoughts of the final judgment. I know You have prepared a place for me in heaven.

His word will not return empty. It will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. All of this will come to fruition on the Day of Judgment. “All will be made right at that time." Keep doing what you have been called to do. Gossip the Gospel. Be focused in your living.  All is not lost in your labor.  Only the persons that refuse to hear the gospel remain lost.

For those who are in Christ, ‘heaven is their home.’ Only those who reject the saving gospel grace message; - they will reap what they have sown, by living for themselves and not for the Savior from sin, Jesus Christ. God will have the last word.  You, proclaim His word.

By God’s grace in Christ, we have been given the full armor of God, along with the gift of wisdom and understanding. To follow Jesus Christ. And speak about the reign of God in Christ, our savior, our hope, and our comforter. Dressed and ready to share the mysteries of God’s reign as revealed in Jesus Christ. These parables of God’s reign in Christ give us the assurance and hope that He is our Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

So who are you?  I’ll give you a hint. It’s written right next to the South door of our gathering space… So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. - Isaiah 28:16

Passive sentences – 7%
Reading Ease -79%

Reading Level -4.4

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