Note: The following is a detailed write-up of Pastor How‘s message over the weekend of October 10th & 11th. “The Parables of Jesus Part 2” is the second of 3 parts in this opening season of a new sermon series, which will be covered across multiple seasons over the next few years. If you haven’t already, check out my write-up of the first part before moving on with this post.
Parables – stories that provide earthly analogies for the heavenly messages behind them.
Commonly used by Jesus, their purpose is to help our worldly minds comprehend and understand spiritual principles more easily. Because naturally, we have no concept of Heaven to begin with.
“Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.” – Matthew 13:14-15
Pastor How kicked off the second part of The Parables of Jesus by addressing our hearts. Just as the verse above says, spiritual things must be understood with our hearts. If we do not engage our hearts while listening to God’s Word or reading Scriptures, we will either hear and not understand or see but not perceive. Still not understanding what’s all these “seeing but not seeing” and “hearing but not hearing”? Well, Pastor How gave us an example:
This is the FedEx logo. Some of you may already know about this, some of you may not, but hidden within this iconic logo is an arrow:
That’s what “seeing but not seeing” means! Before we found out about the arrow, most of us must have seen the FedEx logo like hundreds of times. We’ve seen it online, on TV, on billboards. Yet every time we look at it, we see the logo yes, but we don’t see the arrow hidden within it. Personally for myself, it’s only recently that I found out about the hidden arrow, and it wasn’t even by my own eyes! The Internet told me!
The reason why we normal everyday people would not notice this interesting design is because most of us would not be so interested in FedEx’s logo, as compared to its services, that we would stop and study it intently. To most of us, the logo needs not be taken seriously. In fact, most of us would just have a glance at it. Besides, its the services that count. Why engage our hearts in looking at the logo?
You are starting to get this, aren’t you? To engage Jesus, we need to engage our hearts. Just like in the everyday relationships with our friends, family and partner, the heart must be involved. It is only when our hearts are involved in our relationships, that true understanding can be gained about the other person!
“Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God.”
We always say that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship with God. If that is true, then our hearts must be engaged. Pastor How shows us something interesting:
He said that in order to hear God, we must do it with our hearts. Because it’s within our hearts that we can find our spiritual “ear” that will hear the voice of Christ. With that, he went on to discuss the 5th parable in Matthew 13.
“44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” – Matthew 13:44
Once again, we have a “traditional interpretation” of this parable here. Usually, we would think that in this verse above, the “man” refers to us and the “treasure” refers to Jesus. So our interpretation of this verse would be something along the lines of us finding Jesus, selling everything we have to buy and live with Him happily ever after. But if you study it closely and engage your heart in doing so, you would realize again that this does not make sense! Here’s why.
“10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10
Across the pages of the Bible, you would see verses like Luke 19:10 that describes God as the One who is finding and seeking us, not the other way around! For example, how often would you see someone who has never been exposed to Christianity before suddenly realizing one day that he needs to find God? Personally for myself, before I knew about Jesus, I just lived life my way (though it was purposeless) and never had a single thought about God or gods in general. I had to be invited to church. And I was stubborn at first! The Holy Spirit had to persuade me before I believed in Christ. So very quickly we can see here that God is the One who seeks us. How? Through our Christian friends who invite us to church. When? When our hearts are open. Why? Because He loves us.
Now I don’t know about other religions and beliefs, but in Christianity, it’s never about Man looking for God or Man becoming God. In Christianity, it’s always about God loving us and looking for us. In fact, God loved us so much He didn’t just stop at looking for us; He became one of us. God became Man. This is the greatest love story ever told – that God would love us so much He gave up His Godhood to pursue us. If you’re reading this, get this – God doesn’t only love you from the moon and back. He loves you from Heaven and back. Use your heart and you’ll understand this.
Remember the “keys” that were given to us in the previous part of this series? The ones that would help us interpret all the parables? Let’s look at some of them together with what we’ve gathered here today and interpret The Parables of the Hidden Treasure even further.
The “man” refers to Jesus.
The “treasure hidden in a field” refers to us.
The “field” refers to the world.
In this Parable of the Hidden Treasure, the “man” who found treasure in a field, and for joy over it goes and sells all that he has to buy that field refers to Jesus. We who believe in Jesus are the “treasure(s)” that He has found. And just like in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the “field” here refers to the world. So what does this mean? It means that God didn’t just “buy” us Christians, He bought the entire world.
“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
As long as our hearts are open, God will find us somehow. If you’re not yet a Christian today, this especially applies to you. When your heart is open, God will somehow find you. For me, it was through a cousin. For you, it could be through a relative, a friend or an article like this, I don’t know. But open up your heart today to His love and your life will never be the same again. Jesus saw us as His treasures so much so that He would purchase us at the highest price of dying for our sins. But it’s up to us now whether we would like to accept that love into our lives and become the treasures that He has always seen us as, or not.
“23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” – 1 Corinthians 7:23
Once again Pastor How emphasizes the fact that we can’t buy God and His love. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). It’s like how a child can never buy his father’s love. A child cannot go up to his father, offer him money and ask for his love. A father loves his child for who he is (his child), not for what he can offer to him! So in the same way, there’s nothing we can sell to buy Jesus.
“There’s nothing good we can do for Jesus to love us more; there’s nothing bad we can do for Him to love us less.”
Jesus is the One who gave up and sold everything, including His Godhood to buy us. But some of you may be wondering, why must He do so? Wasn’t there another way? Take this following analogy from Pastor How as an example:
Say you’re an animal lover on the way home today. As you are walking across the street, you spot a group of puppies and their mother huddled together beside an alley. You thought “Aww so cute! Let me go take a look at them.” So you walk towards them, and as you’re doing so, you notice that they’re all bruised, dirty and hungry. And because of your love for animals, you know of a place called “Dog Heaven” where dogs are clean, well-taken care of and fed with the best food a dog can ever have. So of course, you immediately think of bringing these dogs there! But as you try to carry the puppies, their mother barks aggressively at you. You then try to explain to these dogs that you’re trying to help them and bring them to great place. Here’s the problem, they will never understand your intentions because you’re speaking English, not “Doggish”. As a result, it is almost impossible to lead these dogs to “Dog Heaven”.
But consider this. What if you had a superpower that can transform you into a dog? You’ll take the shape of a dog, speak “Doggish” and of course be able to lead them to “Dog Heaven”! That’s exactly why God had to become Man, giving up his Godhood just to come and lead us to Heaven. We were bruised by past hurts, dirty in our sins and hungering for something greater in life. God saw all that and came to save us.
I bet that no matter how much you love animals or dogs, and even if you had a superpower, you will never give up your “humanhood” just to lead these dogs to “Dog Heaven”. That shows the scale of God’s love for us. He became the Word in flesh just so that we can understand Him and be led to Heaven.
“6 Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT)
“45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” – Matthew 13:45-46
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure is not the only parable in Matthew 13 that shows God’s love for us. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price does the same too. And with the previous understanding of the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, we can immediately see more “keys” here in the 6th parable:
The “merchant seeking beautiful pearls” refers to Jesus.
The “beautiful pearls” refer to us.
As you read this parable, you would see its similarity to the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. But why exactly do God see us as “pearls”? Pastor How explains that the pearl is different from gemstones like emerald, ruby and sapphire. It is a product of a living organism. Watch this following video and learn how pearls are formed.
It’s interesting because the formation of pearls are caused by its oyster’s defense against irritation and discomfort, which can be compared to how we go through pains and problems in life. That’s why God calls us “pearls”. Because through life, we can develop strength and character through hardships and struggles (like mentioned in the part 1 of the series) and become “beautiful pearls of great price” to God. As we are tested by pressures and tempted by pleasures, would we still continue to pursue holiness? Man always look at appearances, but God looks at the heart. To Him, nothing is beautiful like holiness.
Whatever that we have gone through, or are going through right now in the kingdom of heaven is for us to become “pearls of great price”. Before Pastor How concluded his sermon for the weekend, he shared with us a story about a great hero – Irena Sendler. Some of you may have heard of her before, some of you may not. But here’s her story:
In 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Nazi Germany and its allies invaded Poland. About a year after, under Hitler’s rule, a ghetto was constructed in its capital of Warsaw, where all the Jewish population in the area were rounded up at. It’s in this ghetto where the Jewish awaited their deaths – by starvation, disease or execution. Young children and newborn babies were not spared too. It was indeed dark days that these people lived in, and none of them had a future. Their lives were not even theirs anymore. But in this huge darkness, little glimmers of light and hope shone as a woman decided to light a candle and do something about it.
Irena Sendler had moved to Warsaw prior to the events of World War II and worked as a nurse and social worker. Due to her position and occupation, she was given a permit that allowed her to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of diseases that are spreading and prevent any such virus from spreading beyond the ghetto. What she decided to do was to use her job as an advantage and rescue as many Jewish children from the ghetto as possible. Using various means, she entered the ghetto and spoke to Jewish parents about her plan. Having no other choice, these parents would entrust their children to Sendler in the hopes that they would have a future besides certain death.
With the help of her co-workers, she would then take this children and smuggle them out. Sometimes, she would use stretchers with sick people to hide the children underneath them. At other times she would carry these children inside coffins among dead people. When she’s desperate to get as many children out as possible, she would drive an ambulance to the ghetto and put them all inside. She would also bring dogs along on the ambulance. These dogs are trained to bark at the sight of the Nazi soldiers. The fierce barks of the dogs would discourage the Nazi soldiers from checking the ambulance and at the same time drown out the cries of the children within.
After successfully smuggling out the children, she would place them under the care of good Polish families. Furthermore, she would help make false documents to give these children new identities that replaced their Jewish names. But she didn’t just stop there. She even kept a record of all these children, including their real names, parents’ names, false names and names of the family that adopted them. All these were done in her hopes that one day, these children can be reunited with their biological parents. For fear that the Nazi would one day find these records, she put them all into glass bottles and buried them in the backyard of her home. In total, Irena Sendler and her co-workers saved approximately 2500 children from death. So many lives were saved just because 1 person decided to make a difference.
Unfortunately in 1943, Irena’s deeds were discovered and she was captured by the Nazi Germans. They tortured her and forced her to reveal the locations of all those children, as well as her comrades. However, she refused to do so, even after she was brutally beaten and her limbs were all broken one by one. Eventually, after being unable to gather any solid information from Sendler, the Nazi gave up and decided to execute her. What they didn’t expect was that Sendler’s co-workers would bribe the executioner on the way to her execution, saving her from her demise. The executioner recorded Irena Sendler as being executed but in actual fact, she has not been killed. After being rescued, Irena Sendler went into hiding.
A couple of years later, the war ended and Irena Sendler would return to her old home and dig up all the records that she buried. With her co-workers, they would then try to reunite the hidden children with their Jewish families. Of course, most of these efforts were to no avail, as most of their parents have already died during the war. But it doesn’t change the fact that 2500 kids were saved from tragic death that occurred to millions of Jews. In 2008, at the age of 98, Irena Sendler passed away peacefully and returned Home to be with the Lord. This is how she looked like towards the end of her life:
This is what true joy looks like.
You can see immediately from the photo that Irena Sendler had true joy on the inside of her because she knew that she lived a life full of purpose in God. She is the prime example of a “pearl of great price.” Of such, God calls “beautiful”. You know, when I am at the end of my life, I want to be able to look back and smile at the things I’ve done for Christ. I want to be able to smile like Irena Sendler here. But before we become pearls of great price, we must first be Christians that are willing to pay a high price. Irena Sandler paid a high price for her great deeds. Now it’s our turn to do so in our individual ways.
And with that, we’ve come to the end of The Parables of Jesus Part 2. You must be thinking where the last 2 parables (7 & 8) are. Well originally at the end of Part 1, Pastor How did say that the last 4 parables in Matthew 13 would be covered here in Part 2. But he gave us all a pleasant surprise because instead of covering all 4 parables in this part, he will be extending it over to a Part 3 on October 24th and 25th! And he describes that in the next part, a sacred secret will be revealed.
This series has been so mind-blowing and life-changing that I can’t wait to hear the last part of this season already! If you read to this point, you are seriously amazing and I thank you for doing so. But you know what, like I always say, nothing compares to hearing this message for yourself in church. If you haven’t thought about coming to Heart of God Church yet, start now! Just saying, I will not be posting a write-up of the 3rd part; secrets are only revealed to those who seek them. So don’t miss your chance of uncovering the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven on October 24th and 25th! See you in church.