Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham April 19, 2020
Introduction: In our last set of Bible notes on Matthew 13 before Palm Sunday, we rejoiced in anticipation of the day of harvest. Then our joy will be full; then we will see the ripening of God’s purposes in our lives, as Jesus returns to claim us for Himself. These promises of the glory to come are at the very heart of the Gospel, and they are our focus this week as we learn in new ways that Jesus Christ is our treasure and our pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46).
Mon/Tues: read Matthew 13:41-43 and 13:54-58. Before looking at the parables about hidden treasure and the pearl of great price, we note again from Matthew 13:42 that the Day of Judgment is actually to be a day of joy for the church – when all that contradicts God’s eternal purposes for our lives is stripped away, so that we shine with the glory of God, even as Matthew 13:43 promises! But is this promise of glory hard to grasp? Well, Jesus helps us by describing how we are saved from all temptations to wander away from this glory in verse 42!
Think of that great day in terms of the removal of everything which causes “stumbling”. The word “stumbling”, or “that which causes sin” (the NIV of verse 41), is that well-known word in the gospels meaning to “fall into a trap unto destruction”. For example, Jesus’ own home-town is “offended” (same word), because of Jesus’ humble origin in Matthew 13:57. They “took offense” at the idea that such a lowly Jesus could be their Savior and so rejected Him – to their destruction. But when Jesus returns, all stumbling-blocks opposing saving faith will be removed! No longer will we feel the deadly pull to wander like willful, foolish sheep away from our Shepherd. Can there be any more terrible temptation than to de-value our Savior and to be offended at the way of the Cross? What a day that will be, then, when we can run in God’s commands, finally delivered from every snare and entanglement of sin, (Hebrews 12:1)!
Meditate and Pray: What a relief Christ’s Return will be for us, when never again will we be tempted to stumble at the demands of being Christ’s disciples. We will never need to hear the words of warning to us about the offense of the Cross in John 6:61 & 6:67:
“Does this offend you? …. Are you going to leave me too?”
May God grant us even in this life of dark temptation to answer our Savior’s loving words of challenge as Peter does in John 6:68: “Lord, to whom can we go? You alone have the words of eternal life”. Amen.
Wednesday: read Matthew 13:42-44. It is a proof of our depravity, even after our conversion, that we can so easily be ashamed of our Savior, forgetting how precious and valuable He is. But let us face this temptation. I am mindful here of one primary reason that I began writing these Bible notes for young adults going out into the world for the first time – to help them realize how strong the world would be in urging them to distance themselves from radical commitment to Jesus Christ. The world, the flesh and the devil will try anything they can to cause us to be offended at Jesus and His church.
But let us not be afraid that God the Father will simply allow the treasure of Christ to slip
through our ungrateful fingers. He has His way of helping us to treasure Jesus anew – at the very
times when we least expect to find Him in our lives! For example, look closely at Matthew
13:44’ s ‘Parable of The Treasure Hidden in The Field’, and ask yourself: does the person in this
parable expect to find anything in this field? The answer is no! No one is looking for treasure! It
is simply found by us when God sovereignly decides to reveal it!
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Meditate and Pray: Isn’t this just how God the Father reveals His Son to us when we are at our lowest and most discouraged? When Jesus’ “stock value” is spiraling downwards in our estimation, and we find less and less to savor in gathering with His people under His word; when His table loses its attractiveness to our spiritual taste-buds – Then is the time when God can cause us to ‘stub our toe’ on the very hidden treasure which we so need to find! We bend down and say, “What’s this?” Then we pick up the long-forgotten truth about Christ which the Father has set in our paths – and find it to be just what we need – treasure to help us in our time of need! What joy when we find something new which makes us treasure Christ afresh! Sing about such a joyful discovery in hymn # 645, with some of the lesser known verses included:
Jesus, the very thought of Thee With sweetness fills the breast; But sweeter far Thy face to see, And in Thy presence rest.
But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.
When once Thou visitest the heart, Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart, Then kindles love divine.
O hope of every contrite heart, O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!
O Jesus, King most wonderful
Thou Conqueror renowned,
Thou sweetness most ineffable
In Whom all joys are found!
O most sweet Jesus, hear the sighs Which unto Thee we send;
To Thee our inmost spirit cries; To Thee our prayers ascend.
Abide with us, and let Thy light
Shine, Lord, on every heart;
Dispel the darkness of our night;
And joy to all impart.
Thurs/Fri: read Matthew 13:44. The next question about this treasure hidden in the field is: why does the one who finds it hide it again, and what does such hiding mean? Well, Benjamin Keach, who wrote on this parable, suggests some reasons why, when we find Jesus Christ and partake of the grace of His Kingdom, we hide Him in our lives, and in our hearts. In Keach’s words, we must “hide” Jesus Christ as our treasure …
- Because… Every true believer knows the worth of this treasure, and what is contained in it… They buy the truth, Proverbs 23:23, since Christ is the truth, and sell it not, knowing nothing can be compared to the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
- Because… Their wills are so powerfully inclined and influenced by the power of this Divine truth, that they count it the sum of their happiness: “Whom have I in heaven but you, neither is there any on earth that I desire besides you,” Psalm 73:25.
- Because… in hiding it, they protect it from their own sinfulness and from Satan. They know the deceitfulness and evil of their hearts, and the rage and malice of Satan, who they know will if he can, raise up all the powers of hell and earth to strip them of this treasure… and if it were possible by his hellish delusions deceive even the elect.
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- Because… the believer knows that Christ is not only our treasure and honor, but also our food. We live on this treasure, and store it up for daily use. He is our Bread of Life.
Meditate and Pray: May the Lord by His Spirit and Word constantly impress upon us the surpassing value of Jesus Christ. We are wasteful in ourselves, constantly letting slip the treasures of Christ which God places in the hands of our weak faith. But blessed be His name, He can always replenish us with a new appreciation of Jesus Christ each and every day. Amen, Lord, please let this be our daily experience.
Sat/Sun: Matthew 13:44-46. Both the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price have the same message for us in terms of the response of faith. When we find them, we are to sell everything we have. But what does selling everything we have mean? The Puritan Ben Keach helps us again. To “sell everything we have” means that we …
- Willingly part with whatsoever our hearts lusted after before we found Christ as our treasure and pearl of great price.
- Part with the former companions in which we used to delight, and with whom we used to dishonor God.
- Part with all our former hopes of Heaven, (our good works, religious privileges and self-righteousness)… We count all such false hopes, which we used to count as gain, as loss now in exchange for knowing Christ, (Philippians 3:7).
- We recognize that nothing we possess has any purchasing power to buy salvation from God. We can only “buy without money, and without price (Isaiah 55:1)”, knowing that Christ as the “pearl of great price”, is beyond any price we could afford to pay. The gift of God cannot be purchased by anything we have to give for it… “If you are righteous, what do you give God, and what does He receive from your hands” (Job 35:7)?
Closing Prayer for this week’s study of the parables: Lord, please impress on us anew the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven, and our place in it. Teach us, Lord, every day, (even before we grieve about our problems), to deliberately express thankfulness for how rich we are in Christ.
Yes, Lord, each time we pray we are bound to remind you of our trials and afflictions – but please Lord, may your Spirit take the pre-eminent place in filling our words with praise and adoration. Help us to truly agree that all our other possessions in life are mere refuse compared to knowing you. Amen.