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, NKJV)
The supreme value of the kingdom of heaven is set before us in this familiar parable. We can see this merchant searching for beautiful pearls that would bring him a handsome profit in the marketplace. But when he found one pearl – only one – that was the most precious and valuable, he knew it was more valuable than anything else he possessed. And so, he sold everything he had and bought it. The lesson is simple, yet profound. The kingdom of heaven is more valuable than anything else you and I could ever acquire. Like the merchant, we must recognize its value, and then we must sacrifice everything else in order to possess it. Jesus explained how we possess the kingdom: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Full surrender. Complete sacrifice. Faithful obedience. See the surpassing value of the kingdom, and honor the King with all your being, every day. The pearl of great price is worth it all.
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, NKJV)
Entering the kingdom of heaven is likened to a man finding a buried treasure, who, with great joy and at great sacrifice, acquired the field and its treasure. The parables of Jesus hide the kingdom from the minds of those who are unwilling to receive His teaching (Matt. 13:11-15). But, like this hidden treasure, the kingdom is found by those whose hearts are made aware of its value and its availability. These will joyfully pay all – make every sacrifice necessary – to obtain the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. The rich young ruler reminds us of one who thought he wanted the kingdom blessings, but he was unwilling to make the sacrifice Jesus demanded (Matt. 19:20-22). The sacrifice one must make to enter the kingdom of heaven is worth it. Treasures in heaven will always be of far greater value than treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19-21). Does your heart see the kingdom of heaven as a great treasure that you must possess, whatever the cost?
17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. (John 19:17–18, NKJV)
“December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy—.” So began the address by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the United States Congress after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in which 2,403 Americans were killed, and another 1,178 wounded. Seventy-five years later, we still shudder at that unmerciful disruption of lives and peace. An even greater day of evil was the day the sinless Son of God was murdered – crucified like a criminal. Yet, God turned that day of darkness into the magnificent day of triumph over sin (Isa. 53:10-12; Rom. 5:6-11). Victory over Japanese aggression came at a great cost of American blood and treasure. Victory over sin’s aggression against humanity came at an even greater cost, the blood of the Son of God. As we honor the price paid to defend freedom, may we also and especially remember to honor the One who paid the price that frees us from sin’s oppression and death (Matt. 20:28).
22 … “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” 23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:22–24, NKJV)
Being a Christian is not a pain-free zone. Jesus Christ, whose name we wear, suffered enormously to secure our redemption. He suffered injustice, ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and physical torture unto death, despised as a criminal and rejected by men. Yet still, some Christians find it a burden to deny themselves the simplest comfort in order to serve Christ. Let us be clear: We cannot follow Jesus without taking up our cross daily. That means sacrifice. Self-denial. Total faith and complete obedience. To try to follow Jesus without complete self-denial will cause you to lose your life. Only when you lose yourself for His sake, will your life be saved.
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4, NKJV)
God is not obliged to accept anything and everything people offer to Him in worship. If He is, then God is to be charged with wrongdoing toward Cain. Yet, “by faith” Abel offered “a more excellent sacrifice than Cain”. The Scripture says the Lord “did not respect Cain and his offering” (Gen. 4:5). It is apparent Cain did not bring his offering to God “by faith”. Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, it is evident that Abel followed God’s word concerning the sacrifice; Cain did not (Rom. 10:17). True worshipers are careful to bring before God the worship He approves (Jno. 4:23-24). It is not up to us to decide what is good to give God. We must listen to His word and humbly come before Him with the worship and service He deems acceptable.
11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God… (Hebrews 10:11–12, NKJV)
In contrast to the repeated offerings of animal sacrifices by Levitical priests, the great High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, offered one sacrifice for sins forever. With “His own blood” He entered heaven (“the Most Holy Place”), and by it, obtained eternal redemption for sinners (Heb. 9:12, 14-15, 26-28; 10:10). The gospel, “the word of the cross”, presents the sacrifice of Jesus to the whole world and calls us to salvation by His blood (1 Cor. 1:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:20). Thank God today for His great love, His marvelous wisdom and His rich mercy. All are on full display when we survey the wondrous cross of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (John 10:17-18)
The Father loves the Son because He voluntarily died for the sins of the world. When He did this He was obeying the command of Father. Then, by His resurrection, He claimed victory over death. When we obey the Father we are loved by Him (Jno. 14:21). Choose to be a disciple of Jesus and to obey the Father like Jesus did; voluntarily, completely and unselfishly.
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Luke 9:57-58)
One’s willingness to follow Jesus requires submitting to Him as Lord (Master), plus trusting that He will always lead you where you should go (Jno. 8:12). Additionally, following Jesus requires sacrifice. There is a cost that must be paid to follow the Lord. Jesus lived a life of hardship, rejection and painful self-sacrifice. We must not expect different. Following Jesus wherever He goes demands sacrificing oneself by always surrendering your will for His.
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5)
The voluntary offering of Jesus Christ for our sins is the defining moment of God’s love for the whole world. Without reservation, Jesus laid down His life as “an offering for sin” in order to pluck us out of the evil of this present age (Isa. 53:10). Having totally given Himself to the will of the Father, Jesus totally gave Himself for us. How completely thankless it is, therefore, to refuse His love. How utterly insensitive it is to return to the vile sins of the world having once been delivered by the blood of the Lamb. Divine favor and peace is given those who honor the Father and the Son for this great deliverance from sin and death. If you will hear, believe and obey His gospel call you will be saved because of God’s great love for you in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
What are you willing to leave to follow Jesus? Fishermen Peter and Andrew left their nets and immediately followed Jesus when He called them. James and John immediately left their work, their boat and their father to follow Jesus when He called them. In another place it says these four men “forsook all and followed Him” (Lk. 5:11). Following Jesus requires immediate, complete sacrifice. Will you sacrifice anything to follow the One who sacrificed everything for you?