What is Life’s Greatest Treasure?

Pastor Jeff Struecker

If you think about this for a moment (and you don’t really have to think very hard), you would have to say that the greatest treasures on earth can’t be purchased with money. In fact, some of the most important, some of the most priceless things in our lives, money didn’t buy. They come from relationships and through time. And they just come through hard work. 

There was an actress, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, named Judy Garland. If you saw the movie with Renee Zellweger called Judy, this movie is a biopic about Judy Garland. She was, for 45 years, one of the mega-stars of Hollywood. She was the original star from A Star Is Born. Did you know that? Before Lady Gaga, before Bette Midler, Judy Garland was the star in the movie, A Star Is Born.

 

But if you don’t recognize any of those black and white movies that she was in, you probably saw when you were a little girl or a little boy, Judy Garland in the movie, The Wizard of Oz. She was, of course, Dorothy. Judy Garland had all of the fame, all of the money, all of the celebrity status that Hollywood, that the world, has to offer. And she used to tell people that all of that stuff doesn’t really satisfy you deep inside. 

In fact, I’m going to show tell you a quote from Judy Garland, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. She said, “The greatest treasures are those that are invisible to the eye, but they are found in the heart.”

 

Life’s greatest treasure is bought with the currency of the heart.

I want to take for just a second what Judy Garland said, because I think she’s absolutely right. And I want to ask you, how do you get those greatest treasures? What do you use to buy the greatest treasures in the world? 

I’m going to give you the whole sermon in one sentence. Here’s what I want you to understand: Life’s greatest treasures, because they are priceless and because you can’t use money to buy them, life’s greatest treasures are really bought with the currency of your heart.

 

For just a second, we’re going to talk about these huge treasures in life. We’re going to talk about what they look like and how you get these huge treasures. And I just want you to picture for a second that you’re living in Bible times. Imagine Jesus comes to your town, he looks you in the eye and he tells you the same thing that he told all of those disciples in the Bible times. He points to you and says, “You, come and follow me.”

 

Now, you’re going to have two natural questions if Jesus does that. The first question is going to be, “What do I have to give up in exchange to follow you, Jesus?” That’s a good question. It’s a natural question. In fact, we answered that question in the last sermon. 

The second question that’s going to be on your mind (and y’all don’t act super spiritual like you’re not going to think along these lines, because even the apostles asked this question) is, “What do I get out of it, Jesus? If I give up what you’re asking me to give up, what do I get out of this?” 

You see, sometimes when Jesus asked people to follow him, they could see the treasure, the priceless treasure that they would get out of it. They left their nets, they left their families, and they immediately followed him. Sometimes, Jesus called people to follow him, and those people thought about all that it was going to cost them, and they turned around and they walked away.

 

The Bible says that Jesus felt compassion for them. His heart broke for them, because they just weren’t able to see the priceless treasure that Jesus was offering. In the Bible, in the book of Matthew, there are two really short stories. Actually, they are so short that these two stories only take up three verses in the Bible. In these three verses Jesus describes, what does it look like? What do you gain by following Him? 

Let’s look in Matthew chapter 13. We’re going to start in verse 44: two stories in three verses. Here’s what the Bible says. Jesus is speaking here, and he says:

Mt 13:44–46  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46 When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.

Jesus is going to describe for us today three priceless treasures that come with a relationship with him. I want you to see what you get when you follow Jesus, what he gives to his people. 

Jesus gives joy

The first thing is the word joy. Jesus gives unimaginable joy. Now, I had to work really hard this week not to compare and contrast these two stories. I’m the kind of guy who will nerd out on the details in the Bible. And sometimes by doing that, you focus so much on the trees that you miss the whole forest.

 

If we were to take a step back for just a second and look at both of these stories, it’s pretty easy to see that Jesus is trying to communicate something to us, something really important in both of these stories. And by the way, did you know that sometimes Jesus uses two stories back-to-back, telling the exact same thing, just to drive this point home?

If you’re reading along in Matthew, by the time that you get to chapter 13, five times Jesus has talked about the kingdom of heaven. Five times he’s described for you what it’s like. One time he used two back-to-back stories, the story of the mustard seed and the story of the yeast to demonstrate what this is like. And when he gives two back-to-back stories, this is a really, really important point that Jesus doesn’t want His people to miss.

 

So, he starts to describe for us this joy that a guy finds in following Him. Do this for just a second with me. Imagine that you are going to an estate auction. I don’t go to those kinds of things, but you can imagine that when an estate is up for sale, they’re selling the furniture, the drapes, the house and the car. Basically, most of the possessions are up for sale. 

Now imagine that you’re at the estate auction, and of course, the auctioneer is banging things across the auction block. The pictures, the drapes and the furniture, that stuff is just natural. You would expect that to be sold at an auction. But this auction gets a little bit weird for you because what the auctioneer brings across the auction block next is the cleaning items underneath the kitchen sink.

 

Come on; you know you’ve got that stuff down there that’s been there for years. You don’t even know what it does. It’s probably radioactive by now. But that stuff goes across the auction block. And then the clothes go across the auction block. And then pretty soon it gets really weird because now the auctioneer is selling off the condiments in the refrigerator. He’s selling the mustard and the ketchup…everything. Everything is up for sale. 

You’d look around if you were one of the bidders and say, “What on earth is going on?” But wait. It gets weirder, because imagine that on the stage in a chair next to the auctioneer is the person selling everything.

 

You see, usually estate auctions are when somebody dies and they’re getting rid of all of the possessions. But picture in your mind that the person selling everything is on stage. And when the favorite family portrait goes up for sale, they’re not miserable. They’re actually smiling when the auctioneer hammers the gavel down. When the clothes and the cars and the furniture get up for sale, the smile gets bigger and bigger on that person’s face. You would start to ask the question, “What has gotten into this person?” 

And if you were in the crowd the day that Jesus told this story, you would stand there and scratch your head and say, “Why would this person be willing to give all of this stuff up?”

 

And what Jesus is trying to explain to us is, the person selling all of this at auction is going to gain a lot more than he is going to give. He’s going to receive a whole lot more than he’s going to have to release because this guy is walking across the field, stumbles on treasure that’s priceless and says, “Of course, I’ll sell everything that I own, even the clothes on my back, to go get that kind of treasure.” 

I need you to focus, because when I say Jesus gives joy, I am using a different idea of joy than most people have.

 

I’m not talking about the temporary happiness that goes with buying a new car, and when the new car smell is gone, so is the happiness. I’m not talking about standing in line for days to get a coupon for Chick-fil-A for a year. I’m not talking about waiting for the new PS5 or the brand new iPhone. 

All of that kind of joy that goes along with that junk erodes. No, when Jesus gives joy, he gives eternal, permanent joy. He gives a kind of joy that lasts for a lifetime and quite literally beyond.

 

When you realize that’s the kind of joy that Jesus has given, you’re more than willing to make the sacrifice. I’m more than willing to give up whatever it’s going to cost me next, because I believe I’m going to gain a whole lot more than I’m going to give up. That kind of joy permeates deep in the soul, and it goes on in eternity. Even after the body wastes away on earth, that joy lasts for eternity. When Jesus gives joy, here’s what I want you to understand: Jesus is giving His joy. His joy is eternal. His joy is permanent.

 

That’s why this guy is willing to sell everything that he’s got, and he’s happy. He enjoys selling everything that he’s got, because he realizes what he gains is far greater than what he gives up. 

Jesus gives peace

Number two: Jesus not only gives joy, but he also gives peace. Now, I need to explain to you the peace Jesus gives is a deep-seated, bigger-than- circumstances peace. I’m not saying that you won’t have problems; I’m saying that you will have peace in the midst of problems, a peace that is permanent. That’s the kind of peace that Jesus gives. 

Ultimately, all problems, even the coronavirus, even if you were to have a death sentence as a result of the coronavirus, all problems are ultimately temporary, because there really is an eternity waiting for all human beings, an eternity with God in heaven or eternity separated from God in hell.

 

And when Jesus is giving a priceless treasure, part of that priceless treasure is harmony and peace with Him. It’s actually more than that, though. It’s peace with others. It’s peace with even nature itself. This guy that Jesus describes, the jeweler, the merchant in verse 46, the language that Jesus is using here is this guy’s been on a journey and he’s been looking for something. 

And you can imagine the anxiety and the struggle and the searching that’s been going on because he probably understands how precious jewels are. He’s been longing for and looking for the perfect pearl. In verse 46, Jesus says, “When he found the perfect pearl, he was more than willing to go sell everything, happy to go sell everything and to go buy that perfect pearl.” -because this guy had been looking for and longing for something, and now he’s finally found it. And all human beings, everybody on the planet, have been created with this longing inside of us, this spiritual void that can only be filled by an intimate relationship with our Father.

 

Jesus is describing what that’s like when things are finally settled between you and the God of the universe. And maybe this guy has been searching for a lifetime, and when he finally finds it, this jeweler is happy to sell it all because he realizes that jewel, that pearl should not be going for that price. It is of infinite value, and whatever they ask for it, I’m going to pay it because that jewel, that pearl is worth a whole lot more than the price tag on it.

 

When I was studying for this sermon, I came across a quote by Mother Teresa. Now, you probably recognize this Catholic nun who served her entire life in some of the most miserable conditions on planet earth. She helped orphans who were living in Calcutta, India, and she saw intense suffering. She saw great pain. Folks would travel from all over the world to come to her orphanage in Calcutta, and when they asked her about the struggles and the war and the violence and the difficulties that were going on in the world, Mother Teresa made this statement: “If we have no peace, it’s because we’ve forgotten that we belong to each other. And because we forgot we belong to each other, we start to go to war with each other.”

 

I’m telling you, if you look at what’s happening, not just in America, but all over the world, if you look at the political division, if you look at the racism, if you look at the social upheaval that’s happening all over the world today, every one of those things that are a result of a lack of peace, there’s something missing in people’s hearts. And they’re struggling to figure out what it is. 

In fact, I was recently traveling to the west coast of the United States. If you haven’t seen these news reports, there are wildfires that are consuming hundreds of thousands of acres of land. There is smoke that is now covering 1,000 miles of territory. The entire State of Washington is covered in smoke.

 

And the news reports are blaming a couple that did a gender reveal party. That gender reveal party led to fires, which ultimately cost dozens of people their lives and is consuming huge portions of their state and smoke that’s covering again, a 1000 miles of land. 

Do you want to know something about this smoke? Do you want to know something about what Mother Teresa said? You know the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the wildfires on the west coast of the United States, the tornadoes and the earthquakes and war and upheaval? All of it ultimately doesn’t come from a gender reveal party. It doesn’t come from warring factions. It ultimately points all the way back to Genesis 3 and the Garden of Eden.

 

When God created human beings, the earth he created was paradise on earth. Man was in perfect harmony with nature, in perfect harmony with mankind, and man was in perfect harmony with God. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, created that first sin in the Garden of Eden, it immediately affected their relationship with God. And now man’s relationship with God has no peace. 

It immediately affected Adam’s relationship with Eve, and now those two don’t have peace. It affected their relationship with nature because God says in Genesis 3 that even the earth itself will now be cursed because of what happened way back in Genesis 3. It’s not a gender reveal party that caused this wildfires on the West Coast. It ultimately points back to the peace that was broken at the Garden of Eden. The peace that Jesus came to earth to restore, and the kind of peace that He came to earth to give is peace man-to-man, it’s peace between man and nature. Ultimately, it’s peace between man and God. And only Jesus can give that kind of peace.That’s the peace that all human beings are longing for deep inside their soul. And Jesus is the only solution, the only answer to that kind of longing. 

Jesus gives fulfillment

There’s one more priceless treasure that I want you to hear about from Matthew 13. We’ve already seen that Jesus gives joy. We’ve already seen that Jesus gives peace. But at its root, ultimately what Jesus gives is fulfillment. You see, this farmer is looking for something, and he finds a treasure. And when he finds that treasure, he finds what he’s been looking for. Maybe a better word than fulfillment is the word wholeness

When this jeweler is searching, the idea here is this jeweler has been looking for a lifetime and finally finds the perfect pearl. And when he finds it, he’s now whole and fulfilled on the inside. The thing that he’s been longing for, the thing that he’s been looking, for has finally been settled on the inside.

 

And of course this farmer is going to buy that field. Of course the jeweler is going to buy that pearl because the jeweler knows, “I’m getting much more than I’m giving here.” The farmer knows, “I am receiving a whole lot more than I’m paying. This field is worth much more than I’m paying for it because of what’s buried in that field.” And the fulfillment that these two guys find in the Bible for the first time perhaps in a lifetime, they are now satisfied deep on the inside. You’ve probably heard this when you were growing up: You can’t grasp and take hold of something that somebody is offering to you when your hand is full or clenched.

 

If you really want what Jesus is giving, when he gives joy, when he gives peace, when he gives fulfillment, the only way to receive that is to let go of what’s in your hand. And the thing that’s in your hand today that I’m talking about, the thing that I think Jesus is trying to point to today is control, control over your life. 

See, the only way that things are really going to change is when you surrender control, to radically and totally surrender control to Jesus and say, “Jesus, I’m going to give it all over to you. And in exchange, I’m asking for something in return. I’m shamelessly like the apostles asking the question, what do I get out of it?

 

And what I hear from Matthew 13 today is, “What you’re giving, if I will surrender control of my life to you, you’re giving me your joy, eternal and permanent joy. You’re giving me peace. Even in the midst of terrible problems, I can have this soul-level satisfaction knowing that you’re in charge. Jesus, you’re giving me fulfillment for the thing that I’ve been anxious for and looking for and longing for, for my entire life. That’s what I believe that I’m getting when I come to you.”

 

Ultimately, what Jesus asks everyone to do is to step across the line of faith and to make a choice. And the choice is to either hang on to control and you call the shots in your life or give it away. And if you’re willing to give up control, you get in return joy and peace and fulfillment. 

Most Bible scholars will tell you that if you really study and nerd out on this passage like I do, ultimately this passage is really talking about God, who is the jeweler. And He’s looking for the perfect pearl. And what the Bible is pointing to here is that you are the pearl and God decides, “I want that pearl. And I’m willing to give up everything to get that pearl.”

 

You see, the pearl that God wants is you. And in order to buy back a sinful man or a sinful woman and to clean us up and to make us holy, God’s going to have to give everything. And the everything that the jeweler is willing to give up for you is his son. In a suicide mission on the cross to purchase you back from your sins, God is willing to go to that extreme. And in return, He radically and totally changes people and gives them joy, gives them peace, gives them fulfillment on the inside. And it is God who does the sacrificing. And all that He asks you in return is to simply give away control of your life to Him.

 

Put it all in His hands. Trust his Holy Spirit, and follow Him for a lifetime. He will do incredible things in your life.