The Gospel Is the Christian's Greatest Treasure!
O Lord, we are restless and often weary as we live our lives in this sin-filled world. As we gather here together to worship Your holy name, please be with us and bless us. Remove the burden of our sins. Instill within our minds a clearer understanding of Your will. Lead us to live our lives with thanksgiving and in praise of Your dear Son, through whom You have given us the promise of deliverance and eternal life. Amen.
Job reminds us that God is faithful even in the midst of life’s difficulties. "Happy is the man whom God corrects," Job says. That is the comment of a mature Christian, who understands both the sinful nature of man and the precious grace of God!
With whom do we stand? Do we stand with those at the foot of Mount Sinai, who believe that they are saved by the works of the law only to find themselves under the judgment of God’s law? Or do we stand with those at the foot of Mount Zion who have been justified by the blood of Jesus and rejoice with the angels of heaven?
Text: Matthew 11:25-30
At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
In Christ Jesus, Who extends to all such a blessed invitation, dear fellow redeemed:
What is your greatest treasure? Depending on your age, you might answer that question differently. If you are three years old, you may act as if your greatest treasure is your blanket, especially if it has a nice silk edge. A doll from Grandma may well claim your heart at age six, or a pet dog at age eleven. If you are a dreamy-eyed seventeen-year old, you may well claim your sweetheart to be your greatest treasure, while as a twenty-four year old mother your newborn baby cannot be surpassed. A vintage roadster may excite you at age forty, while those of you who are more mature might wax philosophical and claim good health to be anyone’s greatest treasure.
All of these things, however, really fail the treasure test, for they are all so very temporal. Blankets wear out, while dolls break. Pets grow old and die, while, I am told, the average American teenager dates eight different people before finding their future spouse. Vintage cars finally rust, and health—why that is so very fragile and fleeting. No, we want to view something else as our greatest treasure—something that lasts, something that gives us what is most precious both now and throughout eternity. That something is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel instills joy, for it brings us forgiveness and the acceptance of our God. It puts things right between our God and us, and it bestows the gift of eternal life. It offers a solid foundation upon which to build our lives and promises us each a brilliant future. Truly,THE GOSPEL IS THE CHRISTIAN’S GREATEST TREASURE! As we see in our text, it is a treasure, however,…
which remains hidden from the wise of the world! Just before Jesus uttered the words of our text, seventy of His disciples returned to Him and reported on the mission trips they had just completed. They reported some glorious things, for they had been able to perform miracles in His name; but they also reported that their message at times had faced rejection. In response Jesus condemned the cities of Galilee, which had witnessed His mighty miracles, but now were rejecting His words of life. He then said, “I thank You Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.” The “wise and the prudent” about whom Jesus speaks were those people who rejected Him. While the Bible assures us that “God…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3b-4), it also informs us that man by nature is an enemy of God (cf. Romans 8:7). Indeed, the Bible says that man cannot know or understand the truth of the gospel without the Spirit's intervention (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). The plain fact of the matter is that in spite of God’s gracious and good intentions, man has and often exercises the terrible ability to reject His call to faith! This is exactly what happened in Jesus’ day when He and His immediate followers preached. It is the same thing that happens today when we, as Christ’s faithful followers, preach His word and many in our world reject it. For such individuals the beauty of the gospel remains hidden and its consequent blessings lost!
Why do people reject the gospel truths of God? The reasons vary, but in the end they come down to the issue of unbelief. Some people refuse to believe that the Triune God—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is the only, true God. They would rather believe that there are many real gods, or that all gods are really the same god—just called by different names. Other people in great spiritual pride refuse to confess themselves to be sinners, or at least sinners worthy of damnation. They rather suggest that man is fully capable of dealing with any imperfections, for his good deeds will certainly outweigh any of his past sins. Consequently, instead of seeing the gapping and mortal wounds that sins leave, men convince themselves their sins are mere flesh wounds—outer sores easily healed by their own proposed remedies. They do not believe themselves in need of a Savior—my goodness no, and certainly not a Savior Who might lay claim to their allegiance once believed and accepted. They refuse to accept God’s plan for salvation and declare as bigoted, narrow-minded, and unjust Jesus’ words, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). How tragic and yet how true it is that the gospel is a treasure, which remains hidden from the wise of the world!
Yet, THE GOSPEL IS THE CHRISTIANS GREATEST TREASURE, in spite of what the unbelieving world may say or think, for it is a treasure, which reveals the full extent of the Father’s love through His Son!Jesus goes on to say in our text, “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Jesus here reveals in a limited way to each of us, who have limited ability to understand, part of the mystery of the Trinity. God the Father and God the Son are two different persons, and yet one spiritual being. No one apart from the Father truly knows and understands the Son, while no one knows the Father apart from the revelation of His Son. The apostle John records Jesus’ further words, which reveal that those “things…delivered” to the Son by the Father include the ability to give spiritual life, to restore the dead to life, and the authority to judge both the living and the dead. Consequently, we are to “honor the Son just as…(we) honor the Father” (John 5:21-23).
The treasure of the gospel reveals the full extent of the Father’s love for us, and He has chosen to reveal that love to us through His Son. The Scriptures tell us, “God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). My dear friends, sin is deadly, for it places us in direct opposition to God—it is rebellion against God, and we cannot win that war! God, however, loves us in spite of sin, saw our lost condition, and in His love determined to do what it would take to rescue us. He was willing to sacrifice His own Son, so that we might become His sons and daughters once again.
Those words can so easily flow from our lips and utter concepts with which we are so familiar that their meaning and significance at times can escape us. God gave up His Son and allowed Him to die to spare us an eternity in hell. To help understand the import of God’s actions, put yourself in His place. We are currently preparing for a war on terrorism. We Americans and many around the world join us in wanting to bring terrorism to an end and the terrorists responsible for destroying the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to justice. We want to see those terrorists punished! Would you send your sons to Washington D.C. to take the place of those despicable terrorists—to be tried for their crimes and to be sentenced to death in their place? Yet, God did this for us! St. Paul reminds us that Jesus did not come into this world to sacrifice Himself for good and worthy people, but for lost sinners. He wrote to the Romans, “Christ died for the ungodly….God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (5:6,8). That is the nature of the gospel—a message of God’s grace, His undeserved love rescuing us unworthy sinners and lifting us up to the exalted position of His own sons and daughters! Truly, the gospel is a treasure, which reveals the full extent of the Father’s love through His Son!
Yes, my dear friends, THE GOSPEL IS THE CHRISTIAN’S GREATEST TREASURE! It is a treasure, finally, which removes our burdens and gives our souls rest! Jesus’ final words in our text express a wondrous invitation. Let us listen and accept with eager anticipation Jesus’ promised blessings! “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
To whom is Jesus speaking? In His day He was speaking to His fellow Jews who were being misled by misinformed religious leaders, who were misapplying the Old Testament Scriptures. The Scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ day were certainly serious about their Bible study, but they had been blinded by Satan and failed to see the entire purpose of God’s law and the glorious nature of the gospel promise of a Savior. God had given His Old Testament people the law through Moses primarily to show them their sin—to remind them of the need for His promised Savior. The Scribes and Pharisees made the law into a supposed means of salvation. They expanded the Ten Commandments into 613 commandments, by which individuals could demonstrate their devotion to God and merit God’s favor. Imagine living the burden of trying to keep 613 commandments well enough to please God. We cannot even do that with ten! Jesus said to His countrymen, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden” by all of these demands. Simply confess your sins and place your trust in me, and “I will give you rest!” Jesus’ message is that while it is true that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” it is also true that all have been “justified freely by His (God’s) grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 4:23-24). Oh, how humbling that message is! We must give up our pride and sense of self-importance, but we also give up the burden of the vain and vicious illusion that our salvation depends upon our own efforts. Away with such uncertainty, dear friends, and drink in the grace of God which alone can bring confidence to your soul!
Are you burdened by the guilt of past sins? While we know that the Bible says that “the blood of Jesus Christ, His (God’s) Son cleanses us from all sins,” (1 John 1:7), it is so difficult at times to forgive ourselves for those things we have done to others. "I’m sorry," seems so shallow at times, while at other times it is impossible to make amends for any variety of reasons. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden” by guilt and fear and frustration. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me.” Jesus’ yoke is His love and forgiveness—His message of acceptance and His call to love even as we have been loved. He is “gentle and lowly in heart,” which means that He will not crush us or reject us, but will embrace us. In Jesus and in Him alone we “will find rest for our souls!”
My dear friends, let us take up the yoke of Jesus. Let us bear the burden of following Him in love and with confidence. His gospel message is one of redemption. He calls us in love to serve Him with righteousness and in holiness all the days of our lives. May we do so with joy knowing that the rest we know now through God’s gracious forgiveness is only a prelude to the rest we will enjoy as a gift from God forever in heaven!
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting