Sermon – Pentecost 11 (Parable of the Treasure/Pearl)

Text: Matt 13: 44-52
Exegetical Statement: The hidden Reign of God is a joyful surprise worth decisive, resourceful and risky action.
Focus Statement: God extends his reign in a variety of surprising ways
Function Statement: That my hearers would be open to the joy of God’s reign

I tried something a little different this week. The sermon is largely story telling. The parables of the treasure and the pearl are short and very similar. The differences between a seeking merchant and a yeoman farmer both finding the treasure in the course of their lives seemed important. The immediate juxtaposition also seemed important. The sermon mirrors those portions juxtaposing two stories, C. S. Lewis from Surprised by Joy and a creative writing amalgamation. I did break the pure story by adding an ‘explainer-man’ paragraph at the ends of each major section.

I have less ability to judge the quality of this type. It is just not as direct. It depends on people either listening long enough to get to the explanations (not-likely if they don’t like the story), or being interested enough in the stories and getting the point by impression. I wasn’t lynched after it, and it seems people were paying attention, but that could just be becuase the format was indecipherable.

One other note worth mentioning. This sermon largely takes the ‘traditional’ interpretation of the pearl/treasure – finding the salvation offered through Jesus Christ is the only thing of true worth, worth all you possess. My professor, Dr. Gibbs, has a much different interpretation here. He flips the person and the pearl. Jesus is the person who gives up all for the pearl of the church. He is a very smart man who has spent an entire lifetime studying Matthew (i.e. he is probably right.) Why did I diverge other than ingratitude? The progression of the parables in Chapter 13. Chapter 13 starts with the parable of the Sower which I took to be about the power of the word. It progresses through the wheat and the weeds which grow together which focuses more upon the mixed state of people in this inaugurated eschaton. It ends with the interesting description of the instructed scribe as a householder able to bring out new and old. In Matthew, the householder is always God, except in this verse. The parables have progressed from hard soil through growth, recognizing the pearl, to being able to instruct others. While Dr. Gibbs’ interpretation definitely works, I think it misses that progression. I’m sure that could be demolished in about 30 seconds.