2017-07-30 – Matthew 13.44-50 – Parables of Jesus – The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

2017-07-30 – Matthew 13:44-50 – Parables of Jesus – The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

Three Parables

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

2017-07-30 – Matthew 13:44-50 – Parables of Jesus – The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…

Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the with us here today. What a beautiful weekend we have. Can you believe we are only a day away from August? Schools are getting ready to start. The farmers are making ready for the harvest. Wow, what a nice time of year it is.

We are continuing in the sermon series on The Parables of Jesus. Last week we learned from Jesus about the parable called The Two Builders. The message in that parable was about building good foundations, specifically how we should be building upon a solid foundation that is God’s Word. Christians are expected to apply the teachings of Jesus to their lives, and when we don’t, we are like the foolish builder whose faith and endurance fails in time of testing. And the benchmark of discipleship, of true belief, is in the doing. Hearing God’s Word without obeying it and applying it is not sufficient. According to Jesus, the one who does not live by what He taught will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

Our faith, our discipleship, is meant to be sound and enduring, and growing and maturing. In the same way that digging down to bedrock and building a foundation was hard work in first-century Palestine, listening to Jesus’ teachings and applying them daily takes much effort. Its hard work to live out the teachings of Christ, but it’s necessary if we expect to become strong and mature in our faith and withstand the storms of life. If we make the commitment and put in the effort to hear and do what He teaches, then we will be like the wise builder whose house stood strong.

Well Today, Jesus will teach us about three short Parables that introduce us to the Kingdom of Heaven.

I have a little video to start with today, that sets the tone for our message.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZ-qosdtua8

There are actually seven different Parables Jesus told in Matthew 13. Of which we are going to concentrate on the last three today as they have the same theme.

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 13:44, Page 15 of the New Testament in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.
Let us Pray…

 

Jesus said:

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

These two mini-parables have identical meanings. Both present a picture of salvation and heaven as something hidden from most people, but so valuable that people who find it are willing to give up all they have to possess it.

These parables set the stage for the next parable in this short series that focuses on the final judgment of man. Jesus’ then delivers what is called the parable of the dragnet, which starts in Matthew 47:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets, but threw out the bad.  So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In a nutshell, this parable tells us that sons of the kingdom and sons of the evil one coexist in this world and that it will remain that way until the Day of Judgment. While the kingdom had come into the world through Jesus’ ministry, it didn’t come in its fullness. Both good and evil currently cohabit this world we live in, but in the future those who are evil and the causes of evil will be cast out—and at that time, the fullness of God’s kingdom will be realized.

To dig deeper in this last parable Jesus was referring to fishing with what is called in the Jewish world a seine net. This type of net can be deployed from a boat or used from the shoreline. It has cork floats along the top and lead weights along the bottom. It can be stretched out between two boats or laid out from one and then pulled to shore by ropes. Everything in its path is caught as it’s pulled in.

I remember dip-netting when I was a kid along the Heron river that fed into Lake Erie in South-East Michigan. We would put the net out there, and each time we pulled it up it was like either the lottery or Christmas; We never knew what we would get. Most of the time Carp or Catfish, but an occasional shoe as well.

No, this type of net doesn’t discriminate between fish, so any of the twenty-four known species of fish found in the Sea of Galilee could have been caught. Once on the shore, the fish would be sorted. While fishermen in general sort their catch between edible and inedible fish, Jewish fishermen needed to further differentiate according to their dietary laws, which forbade the consumption of certain edible fish as well.

In Deuteronomy 14:9–10 it depicts one of the Jewish laws, saying “Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat. And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.”

The good fish, those that were considered clean, were put into containers, perhaps baskets or crates; while the bad fish, those which were considered unclean, were thrown away.

The Jewish listeners would have likely thought of judgment with the imagery of a net, as it says in the Old Testament in Hosea 7:12, “As they go, I will spread over them my net; I will bring them down like birds of the heavens; I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.”

While the parable of the wheat and weeds we went over a few weeks ago speaks about the righteous people “shining like the sun” as well as the fate of the lawbreakers, this parable focuses more on the destiny of the evil or wicked. We again hear of the angels separating the evil from the good and throwing them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. In telling this parable today, Jesus was saying there will be a separation process and that judgment will occur. At that specific time, at the end of the age, and the evil will be excluded from God’s kingdom.

The end of the age (“end of the world” in the KJV) refers to the end of this present era and the beginning of the next. It is the period that precedes the second coming of the Son of Man as the Righteous Judge. The end of the age includes what we refer to as the rapture, the tribulation, the second coming, and the judgment of the nations, all of which help usher in the age to come.

I have to admit that I don’t like to think about the judgment that is to come. But it is mentioned throughout the entire Bible and was often spoken about by Jesus.
Author and scholar C.S. Lewis said: “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this [Judgement] if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and specially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.”

In Matthew’s Gospel alone, there are 21 separate instances when Jesus speaks directly about or infers judgment. Judgment isn’t a popular topic, and it has wrongly been used as a scare tactic by some within the body of Christ both past and present. But however much we might not like the concept, it is undeniably a central feature of Jesus’ message, both with regard to Israel and as part of His preaching about the kingdom of Heaven we are going over today.

Future judgment is a reality, and it is precisely the reason Jesus came to earth and sacrificed His life for all of us. Every human being deserves judgment because of our sin which separates us from God. God doesn’t want that separation, but because He is the definition of complete holiness, nothing unholy can be in His presence. However, because of His love for humanity, He made a way for us to be redeemed and pronounced pure—through Jesus’ death on the cross, bringing forgiveness of all of our sins. Due to this, we will be counted as righteous; and during the separation process at the end of the age, those who have entered a right relationship with God through Jesus will not share the same demise as those who haven’t.

This truth does two things for me: First, it makes me so grateful that I had the opportunity of hearing the good-news Gospel in a manner which led me to believe in Jesus and enter into a good relationship with God. Second, it motivates me to share the message with others. I have some friends who are not Christians and whose personalities, mindsets, and experiences are such that a direct challenge to believe would not be well received, and might even close the door altogether. Theirs is a relational witnessing type of situation. I really want them to receive the Lord, but it’s not going to happen quickly; so I find myself asking the Lord to protect them so that they don’t die before coming to know Him. The thought of judgment looms, and its inevitability motivates me to do what I can to bring them into a healthy relationship with God. Do you have any friends like that?

The imagery of a fiery furnace and a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth used within these parables we have today is scary to say the least. These words used is just to give us a small clue of what Hell will actually be like.

I mentioned some of the differences between Heaven and Hell during our VBS program to some of the children. I got to tell you, although it wasn’t my intention, some of them were scared. One teacher with a young boy and his mom came up to me afterwards as he weeping at the thought. The mom said that she didn’t know why he was upset because he was raised in a Christian home and knew the Gospel, but something that day really upset him. The boy was being convicted. If you ever pause and consider the reality of the situation, we should all be scared I would argue.

Whatever the exact circumstances will be, it will be a separation from God and from those who love God. When we consider all the things that God is—love, beauty, goodness, mercy, holiness, kindness, justice, righteousness, trustworthiness, and so much more— the thought of being in a place where the things that God is are not present because He is not present should be traumatic.

People need God and He doesn’t want anyone to perish or suffer but rather, as the apostle Peter wrote, God desires that all should reach repentance.

Speaking specifically about the term “Kingdom of Heaven”. Scripture uses the terms “Kingdom of Heaven” and “Kingdom of God” throughout. While some believe that they are referring to different things, it is clear that both phrases are referring to the same thing.

The phrase “kingdom of God” occurs 68 times in 10 different New Testament books, while “kingdom of heaven” occurs only 32 times, and only in the Gospel of Matthew. Speaking to the rich young ruler, Christ uses “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” interchangeably. “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 19:23). In the very next verse, Christ proclaims, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (verse 24). Jesus makes no distinction between the two terms but seems to consider them synonymous.

Broadly speaking, the kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal, sovereign God over all the universe. Several passages of Scripture show that God is the undeniable Ruler over all creation: “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). And, as King Nebuchadnezzar declared, “His kingdom is an eternal kingdom” (Daniel 4:3). Every authority that exists has been established by God (Romans 13:1). So, in one sense, the kingdom of God incorporates everything that is.

After Jesus said these short parables to those that were there to listen, He followed-up with what is written in verse 51 of Matthew 13, He said

51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”  Jesus asked them that question because it was important. So I will ask you all the same question, have you understood all this?

The kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God’s authority. The kingdom of heaven is more valuable than anything we can have, and a person must be willing to give up everything to obtain it. The man who discovered the treasure in the field stumbled upon it by accident but knew its value when he found it. The merchant was earnestly searching for the pearl of great value, and when he found it, he sold everything he had to purchase it. The Kingdom of Heaven is that valuable.

Those who defy God’s authority and refuse to submit to Him are not part of the kingdom of God; in contrast, those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ and gladly surrender to God’s rule in their hearts are part of the kingdom of God. In this sense, the kingdom of God is spiritual—Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), and He preached that repentance is necessary to be a part of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). Jesus also says the kingdom of God must be entered into by first being born again. The work begun on earth will find its completion in the kingdom of heaven (see Philippians 1:6).

God wants you to be part of His fantastic, precious and amazing kingdom. And we, who have experienced the love and mercy of God, have been asked to share this Good News of God’s love with others, and when we do, we bring them the opportunity to be in company with those who will eternally be in a place that is full of all the wonderful that God is. May we do our best to share God’s love and message with others.

Do you want to go to heaven when you die? Do you consider the gift of Heaven like a hidden treasure you stumbled upon? Or do you consider the gift of Heave to be like a precious valuable pearl that you would sell everything to acquire?

[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..