Today’s Text: Matthew 13:44-46
This text has a context and the context is filled with parables of the kingdom.
It starts out with:
The Sower – the condition of the heart (soil) determines the fruitfulness of the life.
The Weeds – the glory of the kingdom is revealed at the end of the age.
The Mustard Seed – the Kingdom is powerful out of all proportion to its beginnings.
The Leaven – the Kingdom of Heaven though hidden and small in appearance, becomes large and influential disproportionate to its size in its maturity.
This morning we are going to look at the parables in verses 44-46. Two parables hinged together by a common phrase appearing in both. Let me read it again.
44The Kingdom of heaven is like the 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 45Again, the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Easy pictures aren’t they?
A farmer, plowing a rented field, unearths a treasure of unspeakable value, bigger than anything he has ever seen, bigger than he imagined any treasure could ever be and so he goes and he begins to make plans to make the treasure his. The law of the land says, “finders/keepers,” as long as the land belongs to you.
So he buries the treasure again. He makes sure no one has seen him. Then he goes and sells all that he has to purchase the field. His joy is so great, he can’t think about anything else.
He has spent his life in this blue-collar job, slaving away at a job that exacts its toll in shortened years, arthritic hands and an aching back and now a treasure of unspeakable value is his.
Those images are swirling around in the disciple’s minds and Jesus starts into a second, similar parable.
45Again, the kingdom of God is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
If the first parable blue-collar written all over it this one is the white-collar version of the same point. Here’s this white-collar guy, a merchant of pearls, going from town to town, looking for the best deals he can get on pearls.
One day he finds the best deal of his life. All he can think about is the value of that pearl and what his life would be like if he owed that pearl of great price. He can’t think of anything else so he goes and sells all that he has so he can own that pearl and maybe someday, sell it to the highest bidder.
It is hard to know all of what must have gone through the minds of the people who heard this parable for the first time. Jesus seems to have told his parables in such a way that their truth was apparent to those who had open hearts, but veiled to those who were not serious about doing the will of God.
Clearly, though, the images are so vivid that they invited everyone who heard them to think and meditate on what their meaning was.
Perhaps some people thought of the farmer in images of disappointment and dashed hope. They saw in the image of the farmer all those who barely eke out an existence, filled with arthritic hands and a bent and pained back, and whose entire history has been a series of disappointments.
These are one-point parables with an infinite number of implications for life. Each hints at one probing question for our lives. So what was Jesus trying to drive home?
In both parables, something is found then valued so highly that everything is sold to obtain what was found. So let’s pull the parables apart so we can put them back together with understanding. First let’s eliminate some things.
This parable is not about buying salvation.
It’s not about buying the kingdom.
It’s not about selling everything and giving it away.
It’s not about hiding valuables in the ground.
It’s not about going out and buying a metal detector.
It’s not about investing in real estate,
or becoming a pearl merchant.
Look for what is common in the parables as a clue to Jesus’ point. None of those things have anything to do with what Jesus is trying to get across to us.
Look at the beginning of verse 44 and 45.
- The Kingdom of heaven is like . . .
- The Kingdom of heaven is like . . .
Look at the end of verse 44 and 46.
- Goes and sells all that he has and purchased the field.
- Went and sold all that he had and purchases the pearl.
In both cases, the finder, values the commodity they find more than anything else they possess. More than the sum total of all they possess. Nothing keeps them from exchanging all they own.
All that they know
All that they are familiar with
All that they have worked to accumulate
All that they have trusted in
All that they had been given by others
All that they had inherited
All that they have previously desired
All of that stuff is counted as unworthy of possessing any longer when the two finders, find the real treasure, the pearl of great price. That’s what the kingdom of God is like to those who find the kingdom.
As you look at the simple phrasing, and the stark, bold, brute reality of what Jesus says, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that something really big and worthy is going on here. Don’t get hung up on how the two finders come to their prize. The farmer is surprised by his great discovery. The merchant is filled with the joy of a search fulfilled. But in both cases, the men are mesmerized by the great value of the discovery they have made.
The comparison is not to treasures and pearls but to what happens to the finder when the valuable thing is found. It isn’t to treasure in hidden fields or pearls found by merchants but to the value to the finder when the kingdom is discovered and the change that comes over the finder.
One pastor put it this way:
“The climax in Jesus’ stories of the man finding the buried treasure and in the merchant finding the pearl of great price is the eagerness with which each possessed their discoveries. Each, when he made the discovery ‘went and sold all that he had.’ Each did it joyfully. Neither felt he was making any sacrifice because the treasure he was possessing was worth so much more than what he had to offer for it that they did not hesitate.
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like that. Once we see what it is worth to have God in our hearts, to have His spirit empower our lives, to follow His will, we realize that no matter what the cost, we want God above and beyond all things else.”
(Charles L. Allen, When the Heart is Hungry, 19)
These are parables about the value of salvation, not the means of obtaining it. Jesus seems to be making a telling point:
If and when you do find the treasure, its value to you will eclipse everything else in your life. Everything.
Does the Kingdom mean that to you?
Can I give you a little analysis of American Christians?
Most Christians have shifted into neutral. They have learned that when they do, the devil seems to back off. Is that you? Are you taking the path of least resistance?
Men, remember this, we invest in what our heart values most. What are you investing in?
Is it fair for me to ask these questions based on just these three verses?
Remember how parables are constructed. They are primarily about one thing and they should be used not to judge others but ourselves.
So if these parables are about the gospel of the kingdom being so valuable that no sacrifice is too great, then the probing question that is suggested by Jesus’ words is this:
“Do the exertions of my life reflect the surpassing value of the Jesus and His Kingdom?”
What is it that will cause
spiritually apathetic Christians,
to embrace the incomparable value of the forgiveness offered in the gospel
,,,, of the Kingdom?
“… a treasure so valuable, that at any price (even the price on one’ life, it would be a gift.” (Robertson, EBC, 74.)
That is the superlative worth of the kingdom.
Have you discovered the treasure in the field?
Have you discovered that Jesus, relationship with the God of the Universe is worth everything you ever hoped for, and everything you have, and everything you might have?
Your life is wasted if you don’t embrace the glory of the gospel. What does it profit a man or a woman, if they gain the whole world and lose his soul?
You got a good answer to that question?
No. You don’t.
Because nothing, NOTHING–is more valuable than what Jesus offers to us in the gospel of the Kingdom.
The Incomparable Value of the Kingdom and its Effect on a Man of God
- He starts to live for the King and His kingdom.
- Everything in his life gets revolutionized.
- Every love is transformed.
- Every passion begins to be purified.