How have you been feeling at this time? I have had mixed feelings. There has been some anxiety about what’s going on and also discouragement about the perceived failure of certain projects. There is uncertainty about the future and what it will look like. On the other hand, there have been good times, with bright, sunny weather when it has felt more like a big holiday than anything else.
Today in my Bible reading I looked at Matthew 13:44 – 46. These verses describe two people both seeking after items of great value. In the first story, a man found treasure in a field, and in the second a merchant sought and found a pearl of great price. Both men sold everything they had in order to buy these items of great value.
When I was young, it was always explained to me that the “seekers” in these stories represented Christians seeking after God, and when they had found him they gave up everything they had in order to belong to His kingdom.
However, some years ago I was at a Bible study going through Matthew’s gospel. One of the questions about this passage asked us to consider that the man and the merchant were in fact the Lord Jesus Christ. At first, it seemed strange to think about it in those terms having always thought of it the other way around. I thought deeply about this, and asked myself what I had given up in my search for Jesus. Had I sold everything I had, like the two men in these stories? Had all the cost really been on my side?
I considered the Lord Jesus. What had He given up in His earthly mission to save souls, including my own? Why, He had left the glory of heaven to come down to this tear-stained world and sacrifice all that He ever had and who He was for the salvation of many. I tried to imagine what it would be like to do that – of course it’s hard for human minds to conceive of the great glory that Jesus gave up for us. In John 17, He speaks about the glory that He’d left behind:
“And now, Father, glorify me in Your own presence with the glory that I had with You before the world existed.” (v5)
Jesus was about to be crucified on a cruel Roman cross, all to save sinners like us. He truly had given up everything for us.
What about the second part of these parables, the treasure and the pearl of great price? At first I couldn’t conceive of myself as being so valuable as these things. But God spoke to me powerfully, so much so that I sobbed and sobbed thinking of all that He had given up for me and how much He loved me.
In Deuteronomy 7, God spoke to the Israelites about their value to Him. He was leading them into the Promised Land and He had a special love for His people above all other peoples on the earth.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (v6)
Zephaniah 3:17 speaks of the Lord’s love for and joy in His people:
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."
I grew up not really believing that the Lord loved me, even though I had recognised Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was for me. I somehow couldn’t accept that I was loved like that. These verses show the Lord’s fierce and protective love for His people. How could I not accept the validity of His love for me?
In the New Testament, Ephesians 1 describes the great love and the lavish gifts which God has given to His people. This is such a wonderful passage to think over at times of discouragement and doubt.
“..He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ..” (v4, 5)
Even before the very existence of this world, the Lord had set His love upon us. He gave up glory and all that went with it to seek out sinners like you and me. We can’t make sense of it all, but we also can’t ignore these passages about His deep love for us. This song came into my mind as I thought about this passage again and all that Jesus left behind for our sake, when He came to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
You laid aside Your majesty, gave up everything for me, Suffered at the hands, of those You had created. You took all my guilt and shame, when You died and rose again, Now today You reign, in heaven and earth exalted! I really want to worship You my Lord, You have won my heart and I am Yours Forever and ever, I will love You! You are the only One who died for me, Gave Your life to set me free, So I lift my voice to You in adoration! Noel Richards