Riches
Matthew   13.. & Romans 8 vs12- 25 & Matt13 vs 24-30 & 36 – 43

 

Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery? I don’t mean a couple of hundred pounds nor a few thousands but millions…? Have you sat back and thought how you would spend it.. Who you would give what.. There is someone who said if they win a really large amount they would buy me a new car!! I have dreamed such dreams, and I’m surprised just how generous I am.. strangely enough there is never quite enough money to do EVERY thing I wanted to do..

 

The Rabbis of old used to tell lots of stories about the rich giving to the poor who were pious and faithful.. I guess they were hoping for a hand out.

 

One such story going around at the time of Jesus was about a man who was religious, pious and faithful (just like a Rabbi!!) who gave all that he had to the poor and one day as he was digging in the little plot of ground he had left to  survive on, and there he found a great treasure. The moral is (a) he has his reward from God for being good kind, and religious (b) don’t search for treasure, a good life before God will be rewarded grandly.

 

It seems that Jesus uses this old story, the listeners relax they know it so well... But Jesus begins the story differently..He opens with ” and the K of G is just like that man who finds a treasure…” People look at one another… Surely Jesus should be reminding us of the generosity the piety, the goodness of the man BEFORE he is rewarded by finding the great treasure???

 

But Jesus is clear, this is a very lucky fellow, he does not deserve anything, and he just finds the treasure.

 

The crowd think this isn’t right.. A bit like the serious criminal.. convicted for drug dealing, rape, extortion torture; who won a fortune on the lottery and was allowed to keep it!!. there have been several really horrid undeserving people who have won vast fortunes.. by pure luck…

 

My feeling is that somebody more deserving should have won.. someone one who does not have a large salary, who dedicates their live to serving and helping others, who perhaps has committed their life to God, who cares for the sick, visits them at home or hospital, and cares for the bereaved, who is on call to anyone in need!! Surely they deserve such a reward..?..

 

Jesus gives no such hint that this man deserves anything. In fact Jesus may even be going out of his way to show that this lucky fellow most certainly does NOT deserve the treasure!! In fact he my be very crooked and a real bad guy a classic sinner !!

 

It seems that he just stumbled across it..finds it.. quite by chance someone else has hidden it there and he finds it…So what does he do?

 

Of course he did what we all would have done.He went to the police or the owner of the field and reports the find??

 

Well not quite.. the first thing he does is to hide it.. bet he put it in a different place.. somewhere only he knew where it was..

 

It was very common in those days to bury treasure, wrapped in some thick cloth especially in times of uprising and local skirmishes.

 

In fact how many of you hide precious things when you go off on holiday.. I bet some of you do!!

 

Often the owners were killed and the estate passed down to next of kin who might know nothing of the treasure or it’s hiding place.

 

So having re-hidden the treasure, he is filled with joy…... but he can’t now share it!! He has to hide his joy as he hides the treasure so that the current owner does not become suspicious and  find out what he has done...

 

Then he has another problem.. it is obviously not his field. Therefore not his treasure in the first place!!

 

So he goes off and sells everything he owns.. not to feed the poor or care for the widow.. Ah no but to purchase the field.. from the estate..to acquire the treasure

 

I guess his family or friends begin to wonder what on earth he is doing..giving up all he has to buy a field?? And he has become so secretive, so suspicious what’s wrong with him!!

 

Interesting to note that while he hides the treasure he reveals his character!!

 

As we, the listeners, hear the story, he begins to loose whatever good reputation or kind thoughts we may have attached to him.. Now we feel quite certain that this man does not deserve any of the treasure, in fact he should be stopped and prosecuted for conversion, stealing defrauding the beneficiaries of the will.  In fact he is as bad as the criminals who profit from or though their crimes. He really does not deserve to have that treasure…

 

He may have found the treasure, bought the field, but if ever his fraudulent activities come to light he will loose a everything even the little he once had. There were very strict Jewish laws about property.

 

So his life becomes locked in the secret, he cannot be generous as we might imagine we would be if we had received a vast fortune.. His life is paralysed, locked in a stone cold tomb. His life is a secret like John and Anne Darwin,

 

At least we can feel good about the out come in the parable. He’s stuffed., too cleaver for his own good. Now he all he can do is sit in the house, looking at the spot where he has hidden the treasure.. he cannot risk enjoying it..

 

This parable is so totally different from the usual teaching of the priests who hoped to get a hand out!

 

Thank God, we say, that there is a moral law out there, by which God rewards the good and punishes the wicked!!

And maybe …. we will get our reward.. and just maybe we can keep the treasure, which finally comes our way………….!!

 

It is just at this moment, that hopefully, we realise, who it is that Jesus has been talking about…

 

The Rabbis taught that good is always rewarded.. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is just as the parable discloses.. Salvation, forgiveness, eternal life  is a gift from God, by His intervention. From our perspective it looks like just by accident, undeserved. In fact for all those who, if they found such a treasure would seek ways of keeping. People who do steal, lie, cheat, people like me… in the gospels they are called sinners.. the ones that Jesus died for. What will we say in a couple of minutes.. “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save”, to give this treasure to.. the good, pious, religious, kind, gentle.. NO to  ”sinners..”

 

It’s not earning God’s salvation, forgiveness, and love. This is all by grace, a gift, a treasure That is why it is called grace..

God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

 

But we are still left with the problem…. of the TREASURE. We have been given the Kingdom of God, it’s now within us. But it’s also something which we can never control or actually own; yet we possesses… what are we to do with it.. how to spend it .. NOT just look at it .. too embarrassed or ashamed to tell eveyone

 

In some ways we are like that man in the parable.. Our joy is in receiving freely from God the gift of Salvation,..But should we tell others?

 

I believe the joy of being a winner/ a Christian comes when we share the gift given to us, if we don’t then we are of all people most miserable with the treasure hidden. A light under the bed..what’s the point

 

In this service we constantly talk about the gift.. the communion the table not ours but given to us

 

We do not presume to come to this YOUR table..  trusting in our goodness BUT ..  in YOUR manifold mercy.

 

Coming to the table is like being invited to the field to find the treasure.. we do NOT have to buy the field it has been purchased on the cross already for us.. we must never hide it, but we must proclaim it.. It is in giving to all men that we receive…

 

 

But there is another gift.. one clearly shared with us all to day .. the gift of a new baby a gift of Gabriella (of God)Sophie.. (wise one) child of Ruth & Glen, but they cannot own her.. nor possess her.. yet she is theirs!! How straange ..

 

 

So we shall rejoice in her safe birth, a real treasure.. to dedicate her to God …

THE BAPTISM

 

Rick Gates