No Sacrifice Too Great

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We usually work very hard at making the Gospel as simple and as easy to understand, and accept, as possible.

But Jesus often did the opposite. He was well-known for speaking in parables, stories that, on the surface sounded like simple stories, but which underneath had profound meanings. For those who really listened only out of curiosity they were just nice stories. But for those who were spiritually hungry they were meant to lead to further investigation. Jesus knew that those who were really seeking would ask the important questions such as, “what do you mean when you say….?”

In Matthew 13 the Lord tells a series of these stories. Here are two of them.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (vss. 44-46).

Even in these brief stories there is a world of meaning. But what struck me this morning was the value assigned to finding the Truth, to discovering the Saviour, to entering the Kingdom.

There is no sacrifice too great.

We often say that though our salvation cost Jesus His life, it cost us nothing. We can do nothing to earn it and if we had all the money in the world we still couldn’t pay for it. But that's only half the story.

I was impressed on Resurrection Sunday with the frequent reminder during the preacher’s sermon that, while salvation is a gift which cannot be bought or earned, it is only one side of the coin.

On one side is a Saviour. On the other side is a Lord.

Years ago, theologians tried to separate these two—perhaps they still do today—saying that a person could be saved, but making Jesus Lord of his or her life could happen at some later date.

But these two little stories seem to belie that. While lordship, like sanctification or becoming like Jesus, is progressive (we gradually over time have areas of our lives that the Holy Spirit deals with, and that we surrender to Him), it appears that when the treasure of salvation is found, it is understood to be so valuable that the one who discovers it commits everything he or she has to it at that moment. That’s the first and critical step of lordship.

Salvation is not just “fire insurance,” it is “life insurance.”

Jesus reinforced this idea (again with parables) when He reminded His listeners of the importance of understanding what a commitment to Christ actually costs us.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciples. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, This fellow began to build and was not able to finish. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile, it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” (Luke 14:15-35).

We do people a huge disservice when we only show them one side of the coin. The results of such “half truths,” as Jesus describes them, are painful. Entrance to the Kingdom of God is of such huge value that to treat it lightly is an offense to the One who gave everything to obtain it for us.

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