Overwhelmed With Joy

So for the past few days I’ve been spending time in the Gospel of Matthew. Each time I read a Gospel I think, “no, this one is my favorite.” And it’s happening again. This is seriously some powerful stuff he’s dishing out. Matthew’s gospel is about a King and a Kingdom, it’s about an upside down world that thinks it’s right-side up, and it’s about a Jewish carpenter that says the most bizarre things that turn out to be the way things are.

Matthew is about choices.

Like the wise men at the beginning of the gospel. The dominant reality that people are being told is that Herod the Great is King. To be honest he looks the part, he’s regal, wealthy, and knows how to get things done. If you were to see Herod in a line-up of royalty from that time, he’d blend right in. But he’s not the King Matthew is wanting to tell us about. Because Matthew tells us in that the baby being born in a shed is actually the King of the Jews. And the wise men have to choose which reality they are going to choose to believe.

Flash forward about 30 years and 13 chapters, and we see this baby King all grown up. He’s teaching a series of parables about the Kingdom that his very presence is initiating. And one of them I think is interesting. Jesus says:

“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.”

Think about being this guy. The choice here is pretty clear right? This was somewhat common in this day, Wells Fargo’s weren’t just on every corner, and people would bury their savings on their property, and then die. So this guy has the chance of a lifetime to cash in on a secret that no-one else knows about. But think about this a bit deeper, in order to do this he’s got to liquidate all his assets, break the bank, and what if it turns out to be one of those fake pearls, or someone finds it before he gets his junk in order. This guy is taking a risk. But his overwhelming response isn’t anxiety, but joy.

Which brings me back to those wise men.

The choice that they have sitting before them is  a bit more risky. Everything seems slanted toward the guy on the throne being the one who’s actually King. He looks the part, he’s actually got a crown, and he’s giving them orders. Orders that if they don’t obey could cost them everything. They have to choose, they have to take a risk, to listen to the dominant reality that most have chosen, or to go against their better instincts and trust that this little baby could be King.

And they choose well.

But there is one phrase in this little story I’d like to hone in on. Matthew tells us that when they finally get to the baby King, when the star finally stops over his little shack, “They were Overwhelmed with joy.”

Which just happens to be what the man who sold his field experienced. And here is the point Matthew is making all through his gospel. There are a lot of intelligent sounding reasons on why the stuff Jesus is saying sounds out of tune with reality. You can explain him away pretty effectively, in fact, that’s what the majority of people manage to do. But for those with ears to hear, this is an invitation to a different reality, one that will cost you everything, but be worth every cent.

Because, as the Wise Men found out, Jesus is the Pearl, and he’s worth the risk.

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

11 thoughts on “Overwhelmed With Joy

  1. The Gospel of Matthew’s what?

    I love Matthew. We spent about 6 months in our class reading and studying this Gospel, and it was one of the best times we’ve had. The world IS upside down, and only Jesus can turn it right side up.

  2. I think it’s interesting that the man found the pearl before he sold all he had. The wise men saw the star before they came to see Jesus. They caught a glimpse of a great treasure, and that glimpse is what kept them going. Sometimes, the intellectual arguments against God can be difficult to overcome. But every once in a while, in a nook or cranny of God’s world, I catch a glimpse of the treasure God is — maybe in a sermon, a music piece, something beautiful someone did for someone else, or a view of nature as I walk by the lake. The world is full of them, and, somehow, I think they are God’s message to me that He’s there and worth all the blood, sweat and tears it takes to follow and trust in Him sometimes.

  3. To clarify…what I’m trying to say is that I believe God IS the dominant reality. Granted, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors out there, and there are appearances and intellectual arguments that try to contest God’s grandeur (which is impossible, since all appearance and intellect use God’s material anyway). I think the important thing is to see the smoke and mirrors as smoke and mirrors (even as we strive to love and minister to those who believe the s and m is the real thing), not as a threatening beauty/power/intellect that contests with God.

  4. Bro. Danny, thanks I fixed it. Matthew is a pretty great gospel huh?

    Peter, well said. The “smoke and mirrors” are pretty impressive at times, but I appreciate what you’re saying here. Obviously the pearl is worth it. Thanks for the thoughts.

  5. Thanks Jonathan. Great insight.

    There is so much in the gospels about the cost of following Jesus. But the joy experienced by the wisemen and the man who sells all he has for the pearl sheds light on the cost of NOT following the true King. When we don’t risk everything, we lose the only thing that was worth gaining in the first place. (If you haven’t already read it, DWillard has great thoughts on this in his book “The Great Omission”)

  6. Thanks Wes, good to hear from you on here. That’s one of the greatest things about the upside down Kingdom that we fail to talk about. The joy of it all. Thanks for the Willard recommendation, I love everything he’s got out right now, but I haven’t quite finished Omission.

  7. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” A statement we often live by but Jesus is the exception. Jesus is the flip side of this statement because someone dying for me so that I can live in Heaven is too good to be true. Yet, it is true.

  8. That’s good Jeff. Sometimes when I read through what God is going to do at the end of our story (or rather it’s new beginning) I am overwhelmed by His goodness and value. Thanks for that.



  9. Thank you for this message Jonathan :} I’m sure their friends, families, and associates probably thought they were crazy banking on Jesus like that. It flies in the face of our culture that thinks the only thing that’s real is what you can see with your eyes and touch with your hands. But faith says only what you can’t see now is the real reality. And that is what Matthew teaches in his story of Jesus. That’s what the shepheards teach us when they sought after and found the Pearl of Great Price, Jesus. Indeed He is worth the risk, He is worth every cent we give up to be His.
    I’d say the 12 disciples would say the same thing, because they all gave up all they had and knew to follow Him too.
    Thank you Jonathan for sharing this story and your thoughts with us. God bless you and family as y’all close up your time at Richland Hills and transition to a new ministry and role at Highland. I’m so excited for you, Leslie, and your children. Grace and Peace.

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