“Emmanuel’s Kingdom Part 11” – Matthew 13:44-52

November 8th, 2015

Matthew 13:44-52

“Emmanuel’s Kingdom Pt 11″


Service OrientationHow do we assign value?  With our broken and corrupt hearts and minds are we capable of recognizing real value?  Jesus is encouraging us to guard our hearts before we assign value.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ — Philippians 3:8


Background Information:

  • (v. 44) It was not uncommon for people to hide valuables when a marauding army approached. If the homeowner did not survive the invasion, the treasure would be forgotten and unclaimed.  The land could change hands several times without anyone being aware of hidden treasure.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 487)
  • (v. 44) In the ancient world there were banks, but not banks such as ordinary people could use. Ordinary people used the ground as the safest place to keep their most cherished belongings.  In the parable of the talents, the worthless servant hid his talent in the ground, lest he should lose it (Mt 25:25).  There was a Rabbinic saying that there was only one safe repository for money–the earth.

This was still more the case in a land where anyone’s garden might at any time become a battlefield.  Palestine was probably the most fought-over country in the world; and, when the tide of war threatened to flow over them, it was common practice for people to hide their valuables in the ground, before they took to flight, in the hope that the day would come when they could return and regain them.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 98)

  • (v. 44) The man who found the treasure would have been a day laborer who could get possession by quitting his job and then returning to recover his find. According to rabbinic law, if a worker came across buried treasure in someone else’s field and lifted it out, the treasure would belong to the owner.  In this story, the laborer was careful not to lift out the treasure.  To obtain this treasure, which far surpassed the value of all he had, he would have to sell everything he had so he could buy the field.  He did this joyfully.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 273-4)
  • (v. 45) Pearls were as highly valued in the ancient world as they are today, and before convincing synthetic pearls were invented they formed a conspicuous way of displaying wealth (1 Tm 2:9; Rv 17:4; 18:12, 16). (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 541)
  • (v. 45) He probably made regular visits to the various coastal areas where pearls were harvested and haggled with the divers or their employers over prices. Diving for pearls was extremely hazardous, and many divers lost their lives or ruined their health in obtaining the oysters that contained the beautiful gems.  That fact, in addition to their scarcity and natural beauty, made pearls extremely precious.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 383)
  • (v. 45) To the ancient peoples, as we have just seen, a pearl was the loveliest of all possessions; that means that the kingdom of heaven is the loveliest thing in the world. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 102)
  • (v. 47) This parable pictures a dragnet perhaps drawn between two boats or a large net with one end attached to shore and the other taken to sea by a boat. The net is dragged in a wide semicircle with the top held up by corks and the bottom slightly weighted.  All kinds of fish are caught in the net.  The fishermen then draw the net to the beach where they sort the fish.  They put good fish into baskets and throw away the bad (inedible or “unclean” as in Lv 11:10-11) ones.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 275)
  • (v. 47) The net is the large seine or dragnet (sagene), the oldest type of net used on the lake and until recently the most important fishing method. It was shaped like a long 750 to 1,000 foot wall, upwards of 25 feet high at the center, and 5 feet high at the ends.  The foot-rope was weighted with sinkers, while the head-rope floated with attached corks, enabling the net wall to be dragged toward shore by both ends, trapping fish inside.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 489)
  • (v. 47) A second type of net was the sagēnē, a very large dragnet, or seine, that required a team of fishermen to operate and sometimes covered as much as a half square mile. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 394)


The question to be answered is . . . What does Jesus tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven in these three parables?




Answer:  Jesus is encouraging us to recognize true value.  The Kingdom of Heaven is so valuable that one who recognizes its value will gladly forfeit everything to obtain it.  Also, God will eternally punish every wicked one who rejects His gracious offer.  The Kingdom of Heaven will be heralded by everyone who understands its value.


The Word for the Day is . . . Value


Treasures are things we try to keep because of a value we place upon them.  They may be of no value whatsoever in themselves; nevertheless, we take great pains to protect such things.  Thus we are said to treasure them.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 203)


Values are what make us who we are.  —Retired General Norman Schwarzkopf


The trouble is, real American values are expressed not by what we say we wish for, but by what we really do…Perhaps the best indicator of what we really are is what we spend our money on or what we watch on television.  Look at what we read.  Look at what we choose to do with our spare time.  That’s what we value. (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 6)


Our treasure focuses our heart.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 206)


Remember that our heart is our will, or our spirit:  the center of our being from which our life flows.  It is what gives orientation to everything we do.  A heart rightly directed therefore brings health and wholeness to the entire personality.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 206)


Until you can confidently state your values, every philosophy, every behavior and every desire known to humankind is a potential substitute.  Your values become the filter through which you determine right from wrong, value from worthlessness and importance from insignificance.  If you do not specifically identify your values, they will be defined for you by the whims and influences of the world. (George Barna; Turning Vision, 91


Hunter Lewis, in A Question of Values, defines values as “personal beliefs that propel us to action, to a particular kind of behavior and life.”  (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 12)


The reason physical sacrifice often results in spiritual renewal goes back to a principle Jesus taught in the gospel of Matthew.  As your treasure goes, so goes your heart.  Jesus said it this way: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:21).

Your heart and your treasure are linked.  If you want to know what you are really committed to, look at your checkbook and credit card statements.  There is your heart, plain and simple.  There is no clearer reflection of your priorities and values.  The way you handle your money is an indicator of where your heart is.  (Andy Stanley, Visioneering, 138)


All that is worth cherishing in this world begins in the heart, not in the head.


The most important commandment of the Judeo-Christian tradition is to treasure God and his realm more than anything else. That is what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It means to treasure him, to hold him and his dear, and to protect and aid him in his purposes.  Our only wisdom, safety, and fulfillment lies in so treasuring God.  Then we will also treasure our neighbors rightly as he treasures them.

Everyone has treasures. This is an essential part of what it is to be human.  To have nothing that one treasures is to be in a nonhuman condition, and nothing degrades people more than to scorn or destroy or deprive them of their treasures.  Indeed, merely to pry into what one’s treasures are is a severe intrusion.  Apart from very special considerations, no one has a right even to know what our treasures are.  A main part of intimacy between two persons is precisely mutual knowledge of their treasures.  Treasures are directly connected to our spirit, or will, and thus to our dignity as persons.  It is, for example, very important for parents to respect the “treasure space” of children.  It lies right at the center of the child’s soul, and great harm can be done if it is not respected and even fostered.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 203)


We reveal what our treasures are by what we try to protect, secure, keep.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 204)


Mourning defines value.  You don’t know what you’ve got till it is gone.  — Steve Brown


Value has to do with the degree to which we appreciate and esteem things.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 444)


Money reveals where our interests lie; it can direct out attitudes; it ever exposes us to the danger of worshiping it; and it represents value.  Money not only talks; it screams — Leslie Flynn


What does Jesus tell us about the Kingdom of Heaven in these three parables?:

I-  The Kingdom of Heaven is so valuable that one who takes time to discover its value will gladly forfeit everything to obtain it.  (Mt 13:44-46; see also: Job ch 28; Ps 12:6; 19:9-10; Prv 4:7; 8:10-11; Mt 10:37-39; 19:16-29; Mk 10:17-31; Lk 9:23; 14:33; 18:18-30; 19:42; Phil 3:4b-11; Heb 11:24-40)


One way to describe this problem is to say that when these people “receive Christ,” they do not receive him as supremely valuable.  They receive him simply as sin-forgiver (because they love being guilt-free), and as rescuer-from-hell (because they love being pain-free), and as healer (because they love being disease-free), and as protector (because they love being wealthy), and as creator (because they want a personal universe), and as Lord of history (because they want order and purpose).  But they don’t receive him as supremely and personally valuable for who he is.  They don’t receive him the way Paul did when he spoke of “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”  They don’t receive him as he really is–more glorious, more beautiful, more wonderful, more satisfying, than everything else in the universe.  They don’t prize him or treasure him or cherish him or delight in him.  (John Piper, Think, 71-2)


One is that loving God is not a mere decision.  You cannot merely decide to love classical music–or country western music–much less God.  The music must become compelling.  Something must change inside of you.  That change makes possible the awakening of a compelling sense of its attractiveness.  So it is with God.  You do not merely decide to love him.  Something changes inside of you, and as a result he becomes compellingly attractive.  His glory–his beauty–compels your admiration and delight.  He becomes your supreme treasure.  You love him.  (John Piper, Think, 87)


There is no such thing as a dreadful price for the “pearl” in question.  Suffering for him is actually something we rejoice to be counted worthy of (Acts 5:41; Phil 1:29).  The point is simply that unless we clearly see the superiority of what we receive as his students over every other thing that might be valued, we cannot succeed in our discipleship to him.  We will not be able to do the things required to learn his lessons and move ever deeper into a life that is his kingdom.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 293-4)


Here was this man in the story, who had plodded across that field a thousand times, and knew every clod of it, and had never seen the wealth that was lying six inches below the surface.  Now, that is very like some of my present hearers.  God’s treasure comes to the world in a form which to a great many people veils, if it does not altogether hide, its preciousness.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 257)


The treasure is hid, but that is not because God did not wish you to see it; it is because you have made yourselves blind to its flashing brightness.  ‘If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them…in whom the god of this world hath blinded their eyes.’  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 258)


Surrender is necessary not because it can buy anything but because it is inevitable when salvation is truly sought.  Salvation that is not desired above everything else is not truly desired.  Salvation costs nothing in the sense of payment but everything in the sense of surrender.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 390)


We now perceive the leading object of both parables.  It is to inform us, that none are qualified for receiving the grace of the Gospel but those who disregard all other desires, and devote all their exertions, and all their faculties, to obtain it.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 131)


In this parable Jesus is not speaking to self-sacrifice so much as joyful abandonment to obtain the kingdom of God.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 488)


Please let me repeat over and over again that the good news is NOT that if you are good you will get to heaven.  In fact, the good news is that you can never be good enough to get to heaven.  Which doesn’t sound like good news until you see the cross.  It is at the cross that God deals with our badness, ugliness and rebellion against Him, and gives us His goodness, beauty and purity–in the greatest and best swap of all time.  (David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession–Why Jesus Is Great, 84-5)


Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.  —Augustine


Do you think the businessman who found the pearl was sweating over its cost?  An obviously ridiculous question!  What about the one who found the treasure in the field–perhaps crude oil or gold?  No.  Of course not.  The only thing these people were sweating about was whether they would “get the deal.”  Now that is the soul of the disciple.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 292)


The counting of the cost is to bring us to the point of clarity and decisiveness.  It is to help us to see.  Counting the cost is precisely what the man with the pearl and the hidden treasure did.  Out of it came their decisiveness and joy.  It is decisiveness and joy that are the outcomes of the counting.  (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 293)


The point Jesus was making was that the value of the Kingdom was so great, that at any price it was a gift.  (J. Oswald Sanders, Bible Studies in Matthew’s Gospel, 78)


When [people are] made over again…they come running irresistibly because they would not have it any other way.  You can put all kinds of obstacles in their path, but they are men of violence.  They are going to take the kingdom by force!  When they find this pearl they are going to sell everything they have and get it.  That hidden treasure is going to be theirs.  They are going to have, because they hunger and thirst after righteousness.  (John H. Gerstner, “The Atonement and the Purpose of God” in James M. Boice, Our Savior God, 115)


Of course the man gave all he had to buy that heaven-blessed field, and of course a man must give “all for all” when he finds Christ.  But the point of the parable is precisely that the man hurried to give all.  He did not speak of “sacrifice”:  perhaps if we understood the joy of Christ we would have less use for that word.  (George Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 7, 420)


Ask yourself, What is it that I treasure so highly that I am irritated when other people don’t?  Or to put it another way, What are the things I respect so deeply that I tend to be resentful of those who treat them with disrespect?  (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 13)


The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:  “Men.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”


You know all that I can tell you, most of you, about Jesus Christ, and what He has done for you, and what you should do towards Him, and your familiarity with the Word has blinded you to its spirit and its power.  You have gone over the field so often that you have made a path across it, and it seems incredible to you that there should be anything worth your picking up there.  Ah! dear friends, Jesus Christ, when He was here, ‘in whom were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,’ had to the men that looked upon Him ‘neither form nor comeliness that they should desire Him,’ and He was to them a stumbling-block and foolishness.  And Christ’s Gospel comes among busy men, worldly men, men who are under the dominion of their passions and desires, men who are pursuing science and knowledge, and it looks to them very homely, very insignificant; they do not know what treasure is lying in it.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 257-8)


To ‘see all that thou hast’ is first, to abandon all hope of acquiring the treasure by anything that thou hast.  We buy it when we acknowledge that we have nothing of our own to buy it with.  Buy it ‘without money and without price’; buy it by yielding your hearts; buy it by ceasing to cling to earth and creatures, as if they were your good.  That trust in Jesus Christ, which is the condition of salvation, is selling ‘all that thou hast.’  Self is ‘all that thou hast.’  Abandon self and clutch Him, and the treasure is thine.  But the initial act of faith has to be carried on through a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice, and the subjugation of self-will, which is the hardest of all, and the submission of one’s self altogether to the kingdom of God and to its King.  If we do thus we shall have the treasure, and if we do not thus we shall not.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 261)


In this parable, Jesus pictured a wealthy pearl merchant.  Pearls were especially valued in the Near East.  A pearl of great price could obviously set up this merchant for life.  Knowing pearls, this merchant searched earnestly for one of great value.  When he found it, he sold everything he had to buy it.  Some may discover the kingdom (13:44); some may seek earnestly and finally obtain it.  In both cases, the men recognized the value of what they had found and willingly invested everything to obtain it.  The kingdom of heaven is so valuable that it calls for a total investment (radical discipleship) from those who find it.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 274)


He sees in Christ an endless “treasure,” he sees in Christ a precious “pearl”:  to win Christ he will make any sacrifice.  This is true faith.  This is the stamp of a genuine work of the Holy Spirit.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 110)


The man who found the hidden treasure was apparently not looking for it–his discovery was what we would call an accident–but in the case of the merchant, the finding of the pearl was the result of a long and faithful quest.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 246)


Do not think, if you are teetering on the brink of decision, that having renounced everything for Jesus you will one day find yourself disappointed at what will have proved to be a bad bargain.  You will not find yourself coming back with your treasure or pearl, hoping to get your property back.  It is never that way.  In the exchange described by these parables, the men who made their purchases received a bargain.  They made the deal of their lives, their fortune, and they were happy.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 249)


In both parables the priceless object was bought at the expense of every possession the finder owned.  For that reason some Christians feel uncomfortable about these parables, because they seem to teach that salvation can be bought.  But from beginning to end, Scripture makes abundantly clear that salvation is totally the free gift of God.  Yet interpreted in the right way, salvation is bought in the sense that the person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior surrenders everything he has to Him.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 389-90)


No sacrifice is too great to live in God’s will and experience a discipleship relationship with Jesus as Master.  The contrast will be sadly displayed in the rich young ruler, who would not abandon all that he had to follow Jesus (19:16-22).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 488)


Paul had come upon this treasure suddenly, unexpectedly (Acts 9:1-19).  Moreover, he was not reading the Bible when it happened.  All extraneous ideas–for example, that in this parable the field indicates Scripture–should be dropped.  When God leads the sinner to the discovery that causes him to shout for joy he employs all kinds of ways and methods.  Think of his dealings with Nathanael (Jn 1:46-51), with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4:1-44), with the man born blind (John 9), etc.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 576)


Good news is only relevant and significant in the context of potentially really bad news.  Bad new before good news can be good news.


“If you don’t see the absolute holiness of God, the magnitude of your debt, the categorical necessity of God’s just punishment of your sin, and therefore the utter hopelessness of your condition, then the knowledge of your pardon and deliverance will not be amazing and electrifying!”— Tim Keller


We cannot expect intimacy when we live like Wilburt Rees’ comment:  I’d like to buy three dollars’ worth of God.  Please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine.  I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation.  I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth.  I want about a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.  I’d like to buy about three dollars’ worth of God, please.  (Joseph M. Stowell, Experiencing Intimacy With God, 16)


II-  The Kingdom of Heaven is so valuable that God will eternally punish every wicked one who rejects it.  (Mt 13:47-50; see also: Mt 10:28; 25:31-46; Lk 9:61-62; 14:28-33; 1 Cor 16:22; Heb 2:1-4; 10:28-29)


Esteeming God less than anything is the essence of evil.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 34)


Physical tastes like hot fudge vs. caramel are morally neutral. It’s not right or wrong to like the one over the other.  But having a spiritual taste for the glory of Christ is not morally neutral.  Not to have it is evil and deadly.  Not to see and savor Christ is an insult to the beauty and worth of his character.  Preferring anything above Christ is the very essence of sin.  It must be fought.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 33)


The apostle Paul said, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Cor 16:22).  Love is not a mere choice to move the body or the brain.  Love is also an experience of the heart.  So the stakes are very high.  Christ is to be cherished, not just chosen.  The alternative is to be cursed.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 19)


A religion which costs nothing is worth nothing.    (J. C. Ryle; Holiness, 77)


One of the reasons people deny that delighting in God is essential is that they know intuitively that this delight is beyond their control, and they feel that something beyond their control cannot be required.  They are half right.  In the end, joy in God is a free gift, not a self-wrought human accomplishment.  That’s right.  But it is not biblical to say that the only virtues God can require of me are the ones that I am good enough to perform.  If I am so bad that I can’t delight in what is good, that is no reason God can’t command me to love the good.  If I am so corrupt that I can’t enjoy what is infinitely beautiful, that does not make me less guilty for disobeying the command to delight in God (Ps 37:4).  It makes me more guilty.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 47)


Hell is the greatest compliment ever paid to the value of man’s responsibility—we are created in  God’s image.


If we are sinners, who is going to pay for our sin?  The Bible says that we can–if we wish.  But that is what hell is.  I realize, at this point, that to go into the whole teaching about and objections to hell would make this letter the length of War and Peace.  But let me ask you to at least accept the logic of this thought:  if heaven is where God is in all His mercy, grace and love, and hell is where God is not, then surely those who choose to live without God are simply getting what they requested?  Jesus came to save us from the hell of our sins, the hell we choose to go to ourselves when we shake our fist at God and say, ‘No, I want to have it my way!’ Jesus suffered hell so that we don’t have to.  (David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession–Why Jesus Is Great, 88-9)


Whoever seeks God as a means toward desired ends will not find God.  The mighty God, the maker of heaven and earth, will not be one of many treasures, not even the chief of all treasures.  He will be all in all or He will be nothing.  God will not be used.  His mercy and grace are infinite and His patient understanding is beyond measure, but He will not aid men in their selfish striving after personal gain.  He will not help men to attain ends which, when attained, usurp the place He by every right should hold in their interest and affection.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 57)


The dragnet of God’s judgment is moving silently through the sea of mankind, and one day soon He will draw all men to the shores of eternity for final separation to their ultimate destiny in either everlasting life or eternal death.  We know His judgment is coming, so warn and plead and pray and work–sow the seed of the gospel–so that the people around you and people groups around the world know the good news of the kingdom of God.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 185)


We see in these two parables the real clue to the conduct of many unconverted people.  They are what they are in religion because they are not fully persuaded that it is worthwhile to be different.  They flinch from decision; they shrink from taking up the cross; they hesitate between two opinions; they will not commit themselves.  They will not come forward boldly on the Lord’s side.  And why?  Because they have not faith.  They are not sure that “the treasure” is there; they are not satisfied that “the pearl” is worth so much.  They cannot yet make up their minds to “sell everything” so that they may win Christ.  And so, too often, they perish forever!  When people will venture nothing for Christ’s sake, we must draw the sorrowful conclusion that they have not got the grace of God.  (J.C. Ryle, The Crossway Classic Commentaries: Matthew, 110)


This parable teaches that the time of separation will come when the good and the bad are sent to their respective destinations.  That separation, however, certain as it is, is not our work but God’s.  Therefore it is our duty to gather in all who will come, and not to judge or separate, but to leave the final judgment to God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 105)


Like the wheat that will be gathered and burned, the bad fish will be thrown into the furnace of fire (a metaphor for judgment, see 13:40-42).  In real practice, bad fish would not have been put in a furnace.  However, Jesus’ point in this parable is that the furnace of fire will be the place for the wicked people.  Like the wheat that will be gathered into the barns, the good fish will be put into baskets (13:29-30).  As in 13:42, “weeping and gnashing of teeth” indicates sorrow, remorse, anxiety, and pain.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 275)


We are inclined to say that a person who discovers treasure anywhere or in any form and then walks away from it is a fool.  But many do that with the gospel.  The gospel is preached; it is the answer to all our individual and community needs, for this life and for eternity.  But despite that fact, millions simply walk away and continue in their spiritual poverty.  (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1, 247)


God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez 18:23) and does not desire that anyone perish (2 Pt 3:9).  The Lord wept over Jerusalem because the people would not come to Him and be saved (Lk 19:41).  He warned about hell not to put people in agony but to save them from it.  Hell was not even created for men but for the devil and his fallen angels (Mt 25:41).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 396)


Jesus spoke more of hell than any of the prophets or apostles did–perhaps for the reason that its horrible truth would be all but impossible to accept had not the Son of God Himself absolutely affirmed it.  It had special emphasis in Jesus’ teaching from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry.  He said more about hell than about love.  More than all other teachers in the Bible combined, He warned men of hell, promising no escape for those who refused His gracious, loving offer of salvation.

In the Sermon on the Mount alone, the Lord gives several specific and direct warnings about hell:  “Whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell” (Mt 5:22), and, “it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (v. 29; cf. v. 30; 18:8-9; Mk 9:43)

Jesus declares that the wicked “sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness, in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 8:12) and that unbelieving Capernaum would “descend to Hades” (11:23; cf. Lk 10:15).  He asked the evil and hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, “How shall you escape the sentence of hell?” (Mt 23:33).  On many other occasions Jesus alludes to hell and warns about damnation (5:20; 7:13, 19, 23, 27; 10:28; 12:36; 16:18; 18:8-9; 21:43-44; 23:14-15; 24:40-41, 51; 25:30, 46; Mk 3:29; Lk 12:9-10, 46; 16:23; Jn 5:29; 15:6).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 397)


The torment of hell will be everlasting.  Nothing will be so horrible about hell as its endlessness.  Jesus uses the same word to describe the duration of hell as the duration of heaven:  “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Mt 25:46).  People in hell will experience the total absence of hope.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 398)


This parable then, like that of the weeds, is one of judgment.  It echoes not only the separation and destruction of the wicked but also the motif of a mixture of good and bad until the time of final separation.  The type of net specified is inevitably indiscriminate in what it catches.  As long as the fish remain in the lake, and indeed in the net, they remain undifferentiated.  It is only when they come up for final scrutiny that some will be preserved and others destroyed.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 542)


That the net is not pulled out of the lake until it is full is perhaps intended to emphasize, as in the parable of the weeds, that there will be no premature separation; it will wait until everything is ready in God’s good time.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 543)


Just as in the field the wheat and the tares were allowed to grow to maturity intermingled, and were not separated until the time of the harvest, so also fish of every variety, both good and bad, are caught in the net, and are not divided into two categories until the net has been drawn ashore.  The words of interpretation, “So shall it be at the close of the age” occur in connection with each parable (v. 40b, cf. 49a), the function of the angels is essentially the same in both cases (v. 41, cf. 49b), and the lot of the wicked is described in two verses that are identical (vv. 42 and 50).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 578)


This view of the situation is in line with Christ’s constant emphasis on the finality of the eschatological sentence when once it is pronounced (8:12; 13:4, 50; 25:10, 30, 46; Lk 17:26-37).  It is also in line with his urging that men everywhere repent (Mt 4:17; 9:13) and be constantly on the alert (25:13; Mk 13:35-37; Lk 12:32).  Lastly, it is in harmony with what the Gospels tell us about Christ’s deeply sympathetic heart (Mt 9:35-38; 11:28, 30; 14:13-18; 15:32; 23:37; etc.).  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 579)


‘My son, give me thine heart,’ is God’s request.  God is pleased to call that a gift which is indeed a debt; he will put this honor upon the creature, to receive it from him in the way of a gift; but if this be not given him, he regards not whatever else you bring to him.  There is only so much of worth in what we do, as there is of heart in it.  (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 22)


Day by day the net is being drawn, for the kingdom is an event.  By sorrow and joy, by work and play, by testing and pondering, and by the thrust into the world of Christ himself, God draws the net.  No man can escape:  life is not in our control.  Every breath brings us nearer to the shore, every sickness and recovery, every decision made or evaded.  Foolishly we imagine that we can slip through the meshes, but life is not our ordaining:  “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps 100:3).  (George Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 7, 421)


III-  The Kingdom of Heaven will be heralded by everyone who understands its value.  (Mt 13:51-52; see also: Rom 1:14-17; 1 Cor 9:16; 2 Cor 5:14)


I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. If it were possible for a created soul fully to ‘appreciate,’ that is, to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme blessedness. To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. — C.S. Lewis.


Because the disciples understood, therefore, Jesus said, they were the “teachers of the law” in his kingdom.  In other words, the current teachers of religious law did not understand, so their teaching was invalid.  The disciples had been instructed about the kingdom of heaven.  They understood God’s real purpose in the law as revealed in the OT; therefore, they had a real treasure.  The disciples would bring this treasure “out of [the] storeroom” in that their responsibility would be to share what they had learned with others.  The disciples had gained this treasure through Jesus’ instruction, so they were able to understand and use the best of older wisdom as well as the new insights that Jesus brought to them.  True teachers see the value of both old and new.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 276)


This was a new treasure that Jesus was revealing.  Both the old and new teachings give practical guidelines for faith and for living in the world.  The religious leaders, however, were trapped in the old and blind to the new.  They were looking for a future kingdom preceded by judgment.  Jesus, however, taught that the kingdom was now and the judgment was future.  The religious leaders were looking for a physical and temporal kingdom (brought on by military strength and physical rule), but they were blind to the spiritual significance of the kingdom that Christ had brought.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 276)


He does not reject the revelation of God in the past; he values it and treasures it.  At the same time, he understands God’s past revelation in light of God’s present revelation, particularly the present revelation of Christ as the supreme fulfillment of all that God has promised.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 184)


The Torah-trained teachers of the law studied under great rabbis and passed on their traditions and interpretations.  But all those who have become disciples of the kingdom of heaven have Jesus alone as their teacher, and they will in turn faithfully pass on to others what Jesus has taught them.  They not only understand how to draw spiritual truths from the parables properly (13:51), but they understand how Jesus’ arrival has fulfilled the promises of the coming of the Messiah and the messianic kingdom (e.g., 1:22, 2:5, 15, 17, 23; 3:16; 4:14-17) and how Jesus truly fulfills the Law and the Prophets (5:17-20).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 490)


It is the will of Christ, that all those who read and hear the word should understand it; for otherwise how should they get good by it?  It is therefore good for us, when we have read or heard the word, to examine ourselves, or to be examined, whether we have understood it or not.  It is no disparagement to the disciples of Christ to be catechized.  Christ invites us to seek to him for instruction, and ministers should proffer their service to those who have any good question to ask concerning what they have heard.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 194)


This is the only place in this chapter where the disciples themselves are explicitly said to understand, and they say it by themselves.  It is as wrong to say that Matthew has portrayed them as understanding everything as it is to say that they understood nothing.  The truth lies between the extremes.  The disciples certainly understood more than the crowds; on the other hand, they are shortly to be rebuked for their dullness (15:16).  Like another positive response in this Gospel (see on 20:22-23), they know everything when in fact they know nothing) nor taken at face value (as if their understanding were in fact mature).  In any event the disciples’ claim is not as important as the last parable to which it leads.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 331)


The new is not added to the old; there is but one revelation, and its focus is the “new” that has fulfilled and thereby renewed the old, which has thereby become new.  Thus the OT promises of Messiah and kingdom, as well as OT law and piety, have found their fulfillment in Jesus’ person, teaching, and kingdom; and the scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom now brings out of himself deep understanding of these things and their transformed perspective affecting all life.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 333)


The message of the kingdom of heaven does not wipe the slate clean, but rather brings fulfillment to what has gone before, as Jesus has been at pains to demonstrate in 5:17-48.  The “old” is not to be “abolished” (5:17), but to be judiciously integrated into the new perspective of the kingdom of heaven.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 546-7)


The Torah-trained teacher of law has studied under a great rabbi, but for the one who has been made a disciple of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus is the great Teacher (cf. 28:20).  The true disciple knows how to draw spiritual truths from the parables properly, to balance the new teachings of Christ with the fulfilled promises of the messianic kingdom, and to understand how Jesus truly fulfills the Law and the Prophets (5:17).  (Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Vol 1, 87)


IV-  Jesus is encouraging us to recognize true value(Mt 13:44-52; see also: Dt 4:29; Ps 1; 12:6; ch 19; 116:15; 119:14, 72, 127; Prv 2:1-8; 3:5-18; 8:18-19; 11:4; 16:16; Isa 33:6; 55:1-10; Jer 29:13; Mt 5:11; 6:19-34; 7:7-8, 24-26; 10:32-33, 37-39; 16:24-28; 19:29; Lk 12:33-34; 1 Cor 1:18-2:16; 2 Cor 4:7; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 3:20; Col 1:26-27; 2:2-3; 1 Tm 6:17-19; Heb 11:13-16; 1 Pt 1:4, 7; 2:6-7)



The only fatal error is to pretend that we have found the life we prize. (John Eldredge; The Journey of Desire, 14)


Decision making is easy if there are no contradictions in your value system.  (Robert H. Schuller; Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do,  148)


Man’s obsession to add to his wealth and honor is the chief source of his misery.  -Jewish proverb


In discovering God’s plan for our lives, we discover our own worth.


Whatever you are doing right now, if it is not going to be significant in 100 years, is not worthy of your time. — Steve Brown


The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.  Prv 8:22-23.  The speaker of this passage is Wisdom, who is often our narrator in Proverbs, the ancient Bible book of wise sayings.  While we can talk about getting our values from the self or from society, this passage points to an awesome concept:  The fundamental values of life are to be found in the character of God that existed before the worlds were made. (Stuart Briscoe,; Choices for a Lifetime, 25)


For secularism, all life, every human value, every human activity must be understood in light of this present time. . . . Jesus says that He comes from above.  He descends from the eternal realm.  He calls the Christian to live his life in light of eternity.  A Christian’s values are to be measured by transcendent norms of eternal significance.  (R.C. Sproul; Lifeviews, 35-6)


A season of suffering is a small price to pay for a clear view of God.  —Max Lucado


The worth and value of our soul is measured by what we love.  If we love corrupt and wicked things we become corrupt and wicked.  But the person who loves God spiritually grows and matures until he becomes like the One he loves.  What a person loves is constantly on his mind.  And what we think about has a power to transform our soul.  We become like what we behold. (Henry Scougal and Robert Leighton; God’s Abundant Life, 39)


The point is not on buying one’s way into the kingdom but on recognizing its supreme value.  Earlier Jesus used a pearl to illustrate the precious nature of the gospel that could not be appreciated by pigs (7:6).  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were certainly those whose expertise qualified them to understand the magnitude of the kingdom of God that Jesus announced, but they were blinded by their hypocrisy and their desire for a pious reputation and honor from people (6:1-3).  Jesus’ disciples are to understand that there is nothing more valuable in all of the world than possession of the kingdom of God.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 488)


Jesus is not against investment.  He is against bad investment—namely, setting your heart on the comforts and securities that money can afford in this world.  Money is to be invested for eternal yields in heaven—“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven!”  (John Piper; Desiring God, 165)


A peasant shut up in his village only partially knows his wretchedness, but let him see rich palaces, a superb court, and he will realize all the poverty of his village.  He cannot endure its hovels after a sight of so much magnificence.  It is thus that we see our ugliness and worthlessness in the beauty and infinite grandeur of God.  (Fenelon, Christian Perfection, 145-6)


God’s will is the very definition of what is good, pleasing, and perfect.  The good is the will of God.  The pleasing is the will of God.  The perfect is the will of God.  The will of God is nothing less than his character, shaped into laws for our conduct.  We can never change that.  It is the summum bonum.  But we can discover his will in its marvelous breadth and beauty.  His commands are never burdensome (1 Jn 5:3).  But they need to be practiced in order fully to demonstrate their liberating character.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 349)


It is suggestive to find that there are other pearls but only one pearl of great price.  That is to say, there are many fine things in this world and many things in which we can find loveliness.  We can find loveliness in knowledge and in the reaches of the human mind, in art and music and literature and all the triumphs of the human spirit; we can find loveliness in serving our neighbors, even if that service springs from humanitarian rather than from purely Christian motives; we can find loveliness in human relationship.  These are all lovely, but they are all lesser loveliness.  The supreme beauty lies in the acceptance of the will of God.  This is not to belittle the other things; they too are pearls; but the supreme pearl is the willing obedience which makes us friends of God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 102)


“That we put values, principles and ideals above our very being is what places us above animals.”  —Dr. Laura Schlessinger


If people are not governed by internal values, they must be governed by external force.  Take away the Bibles that direct a nation’s soul, and the government will bring out the bayonets.  (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 194)


In order for a society or a culture to become greater or to transcend its current status it must be guided or informed by a world-view that is greater or transcends its current world-view of operational paradigms.  Otherwise it will be perpetually stuck in its own limited perspective on how life should be lived and the guiding values that dictate that life.  — Pastor Keith


Surely it is reasonable to fling away brass counters for gold coins.  Surely, in all regions of life, we willingly sacrifice the second best in order to get the very best.  Surely, if the wealth which is in God is more precious than all besides, you have the best of the bargain, if you part with the world and yourselves and get Him.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 261)


There is only one way to bring peace to the heart, joy to the mind, beauty to the life, and that is to accept and to do the will of God.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 102)


So many people think that when they declare for Christ they must give things up and concentrate upon the so-called religious things.  But a scholar does not give up that business; rather, they should run it as Christians would.  Those who can sing, or dance, or act, or paint need not give up their art, but must use that art as Christians would.  Those who are gifted at sport need not give up their sport, but must participate as Christians would.  Jesus came not to empty life but to fill it, not to impoverish life but to enrich it.  Here we see Jesus telling men and women not to abandon their gifts but to use them even more wonderfully in the light of the knowledge which he has given them.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 106)


In light of this teaching of Jesus, it is clear that we are called to examine our values, to consider that which we esteem most highly.  I encourage you to ask yourself these kinds of questions: “What do I value the most in this world?  My wife?  My husband?  My children?  My house?  My car?  My job?  My redemption?”  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 445)


Wherever I go, I like to watch people.  I like to wonder what they are thinking about.  Sometimes when I look at people scurrying about with so much energy and concentration, I think:  “Do they know about the kingdom of heaven?  Do they care about it?  Or are they so caught up in the pressures, responsibilities, and burdens of their lives that they never step back and ask themselves why they are here, why they are even living?”  That’s the oldest question the philosophers asked:  “Why am I here?”  But there are millions of people in this world who have no idea about the kingdom of God.  It remains as hidden to them as that treasure was before the man discovered it.  They have no idea of the valuable thing they are overlooking.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 445)


If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my Earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud.  Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing . . . I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 119)


In the treasure finder and the pearl dealer, then, we find the opposite attitude to the “worries of this world and the false lure of wealth” which stood in the way of true discipleship in v. 22.  To find the kingdom of heaven is to find the one treasure which outweighs all other valuation.  It is worth any cost to seize this unique and unrepeatable opportunity.  (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 540)


We commonly set a high value on what is visible, and therefore the new and spiritual life, which is held out to us in the Gospel, is little esteemed by us, because it is hidden, and lies in hope.  There is the highest appropriateness in comparing it to a treasure, the value of which is in no degree diminished, though it may be buried in the earth, and withdrawn from the eyes of men.  These words teach us, that we ought not to estimate the riches of the grace of God according to the views of the flesh, or according to their outward display, but in the same manner as a treasure, though it be hidden, is preferred to a vain appearance of wealth.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 131)


But it is asked, is it necessary that we abandon every other possession, in order that we may enjoy eternal life?  I answer briefly.  The natural meaning of the words is, that the Gospel does not receive from us the respect which it deserves, unless we prefer it to all the riches, pleasures, honors, and advantages of the world, and to such an extent, that we are satisfied with the spiritual blessings which it promises, and throw aside every thing that would keep us from enjoying them; for those who aspire to heaven must be disengaged from every thing that would retard their progress.  (John Calvin, Commentaries, Vol. XVI, 132)


Although he is an expert in pearls, this single find so far surpasses any other pearl the merchant has ever seen that he considers it a fair exchange for everything else he owns.  Thus Jesus is not interested in religious efforts or in affirming that one can “buy” the kingdom; on the contrary, he is saying that the person whose whole life has been bound up with “pearls”–the entire religious heritage of the Jews?–will, on comprehending the true value of the kingdom as Jesus presents it, gladly exchange all else to follow him.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 8, 329)


Here we are told that Christ is the summum bonum, for whom life and time are well lost.  (George Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 7, 421)


First, don’t jump to the conclusion that there is no joy in things that are “harsh and dreadful.”  There are mountain climbers who have spent sleepless nights on the faces of cliffs, have lost fingers and toes in sub-zero temperatures, and have gone through horrible misery to reach a peak.  They say, “It was harsh and dreadful.”  But if you ask them why they do it, the answer will come back in various forms:  “There is an exhilaration in the soul that feels so good it is worth all of the pain.” (John Piper; Desiring God, 116)


It is an indictment of our own worldliness that we feel more exhilaration when we conquer an external mountain of granite in our own strength than when we conquer the internal mountain of pride in God’s strength.  The miracle of Christian Hedonism is that overcoming obstacles to love by the grace of God has become more enticing than every form of self-confidence.  The joy of experiencing the power of God’s grace defeating selfishness is an insatiable addiction.  (John Piper; Desiring God, 120)


The late Curt Cobain captured the attitude of today’s culture with the line, “Here we are; now entertain us.”  I believe that unfortunately, many Christians have made Cobain’s line the refrain of their friendships.  Our cultural obsession with entertainment is really just an expression of selfishness.  The focus in entertainment is not producing something useful for the benefit of others but consuming something for the pleasure of self.  And a friendship based on this self-serving, pleasure-seeking mind set can easily slip into a similarly self-serving romantic relationship that meets the needs of the moment.  (Joshua Harris; Where’s the Focus?)


Worship Point:  Worship the God who asks you not to serve a tyrant, but One whose value and worth far exceeds any other because of His wisdom, knowledge, power, grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, justice, faithfulness and love.


Worship is an outward expression of what we value most.  —Ligon Duncan


This is why the great Baptist preacher Geoffrey Thomas has said that in true worship men have little thought of the means of worship because their thoughts are on God; true worship is characterized by self-effacement without self-consciousness.  That is, in biblical worship we so focus upon God himself and are so intent to acknowledge his inherent and unique worthiness that we are transfixed by Him, and thus worship is not about what we want or like (nor do his appointed means divert our eyes from him), but rather it is about meeting with God and delighting in his delights.  Praise decentralizes self.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God; A Vision for Reforming Worship, 64)


If we truly grasped that when we sing we are praising him or praying to him, that we are in the presence of the King of Glory, and that we should have come to thank him, praise him, and ascribe worth to him (not to make ourselves feel better), we would begin to understand how important it is to know what we are singing.  This is one reason, among others, that hymns have fallen out of popularity and use in many circles.  It is because they require thought, and we do not want to think.  “I come to church to be refreshed–not to work” is a common attitude.  But proper worship does take work, thought, preparation, and action.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 251-2)


If the Church’s worship is faithful, it will eventually be subversive of the culture surrounding it, for God’s truth transforms the lives of those nurtured by it.  Worship will turn our values, habits and ideas upside-down as it forms our character; only then will be genuinely right-side up eternally.   Only then will we know a Joy worthy of our destiny.  (Marva Dawn; Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, 57-8)


What is worship?  From his study of English literature from Chaucer to Shakespeare, James Boice knew that the word worship is derived from “worth-ship.”  To worship God, therefore, is to assign him his supreme worth, acknowledging him to be the Creator and Redeemer revealed in the holy Scriptures.  Similarly, the word glory (doxa) in the Greek NT means to have a good or right opinion of some illustrious individual.  To worship God, then, is to have the correct opinion about him, properly recognizing his holy sovereignty.  (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 6)


Gospel Application:  Never forget the Gospel is good news, NOT good advice.  Jesus has come and done what we could never do but were commanded to do (live a perfect life) and died the death we deserved to die (because we failed to live as those created in the image of God).  There is nothing more valuable than this gift of God.


The man who is seriously convinced that he deserves to go to hell is not likely to go there, while the man who believes that he is worthy of heaven will certainly never enter that blessed place.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 15)


The man who inwardly believes that he is too good to perish will certainly perish unless he experiences a radical change of heart about himself.  (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 18)


No creature that deserved Redemption would need to be redeemed.  They that are whole need not the physician.  Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.  (CS Lewis, The World’s Last Night, 86)


Spiritual Challenge:  Come to understand, “You give up nothing when you give up everything because you gain the whole world.”  (Tim Keller; “Parable of the Pearl:  On Priorities” Mt 13:44-46).  (see also: 2 Cor 8:9; Phil 4:19)



The sinner gives up all the worthless things he has while freely receiving all the priceless things God has to give in Christ.  What we give up in no way pays for salvation.  To the contrary, what we give up not only is worthless but worse than worthless.  Even the “righteous deeds” of an unbeliever” are like a filthy garment” (Isa 64:6).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 390)



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