Matthew 13:44 – “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
At one time or another, we have all dreamed of discovering buried treasure! Books, stories, TV shows and even video games contain elements of buried treasure, just waiting to be discovered. I bet you are smiling right now, just thinking about it.
Stop and ask yourself this question: What is it about buried treasure that we find so appealing?
Here are some answers I came up with. See how your answers compare.
- The thrill of discovery; the realization that you have something of great value.
- Finding, as opposed to earning, fabulous riches.
- The feeling that all your cares and worries are over; you found a life of ease and pleasure.
- The ability to give priceless gifts to friends and family.
- The desire to plumb the depth of your discovery – just how much treasure is there?
- A sense of adventure.
In this parable, Jesus is comparing the kingdom of heaven, the gospel message, to buried treasure. Do you think this is a good analogy? Let’s look:
- When you first accepted the gospel message, did you realize you had something of great value? Were you thrilled to discover it?
- Did you earn your salvation, or like buried treasure, was it gift you did not work for?
- Do you find that the gospel gives you freedom from the worry and cares of this life, replacing them with pleasure and joy?
- Is the gospel a priceless treasure you want to share with those you know and love?
- Do you desire to know more and more about God, discovering newer and deeper levels of his wisdom and love?
- Has your relationship with Jesus been an adventure? Does it promise even greater adventures in the age to come?
Indeed, the gospel message is a priceless treasure!
What else can we note about this parable? The man in question was not seeking treasure, it was something he found or stumbled upon. This speaks of the salvation of the Gentiles. They were neither expecting nor looking for the kingdom of heaven. They ‘never saw it coming’, yet when it was discovered, countless numbers have laid claim to it.
Of course, the main thrust of this parable is this: once the man found the treasure, he sold or parted with all that he had to obtain it. He demonstrates earnestness, care, diligence, and singleness of purpose in his effort to acquire the treasure.
Likewise, when we find salvation, we realize what a vast and priceless treasure it is. Because it is priceless, we too are willing to part with all that we have to obtain it. Everything that we may possess or experience in this world pales in comparison to the riches of the kingdom of heaven! Indeed, a man will part with all that he has, yet consider himself incomparably richer than before, when he possesses a relationship with the God of the universe!
When you first entered into a relationship with Jesus, did you burn with desire for him? If necessary, let us stir up our first love for Christ. Let us exhibit the same due diligence in our relationship with God as the man in the parable.
Matthew 13:45-46 – “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
This parable is similar to the one before it. The gospel is a pearl of great price. People who find it will gladly sacrifice all they have to obtain it.
However, in this parable the man is actively looking and seeking for the pearl. This speaks of the Jews, who already had a relationship with God and who were actively seeking for the kingdom of heaven.
True, they did not recognize it when it came, but we can rest assured that God is not yet finished with the Jewish nation. There is a single, united kingdom of heaven and it includes both Jews and Gentiles alike.
Matthew 13:47-48 – “Again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.”
In this parable, we find similarities to the parable of the wheat and tares. In this case, the sea is like the world. The gospel is thrown or spread in the world, and it captures men (fish) of all kinds.
Notice that some of the men are good and some are evil. As we saw in the parable of the wheat and tares, God chooses to let the wicked and the righteous exist together until the end of the age.
But there will come a day when the net is drawn ashore. Likewise, there is a set time when the gospel shall have fulfilled all that it was sent to do and this age will end.
It is interesting to note that some people also see another application in this parable. They believe that the sea represents the church. This would mean that the church presently contains a mixture of believers and unbelievers. They will attend the same church, sing the same songs and hear the same sermons until the end of the age. At that time, Jesus will separate the true Christians from those who are not.
In both the parable of wheat/tares and the parable of the fish, Jesus is very specific that there will be a judgment at the end of the gospel dispensation.
Matthew 13:49-50 – “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In the current age, Satan is fooling people into believing that all actions and lifestyles are acceptable. Things that the bible calls sin are not only condoned in our society, but they are affirmed and even celebrated.
Our society uses the umbrella of love and acceptance as a façade to cover these sins and make them acceptable. If a Christian stands against any sin, they are considered racist or a bigot or a person of hate. Sadly, Satan has lied to people, convincing them that because God is love and he loves everyone, that he will not punish sin.
While it is true that God is love, he is also holy. Therefore, his perspective on sin is completely different than ours. Sin is an abomination; it is completely unacceptable to him and it cannot stand in his presence. Each and every sin carries a penalty and God’s perfect holiness requires the penalty to be paid.
He has brokered a deal or made a covenant between man and God. He has agreed to pay the price for our sin – it was not excused or written off as a bad debt.
- He paid the price when he left the splendor and glory of heaven to come to earth and take on flesh as a man.
- He paid the price when he submitted himself and his will to God.
- He paid the price when he resisted the temptation of Satan in the wilderness.
- He paid the price when he allowed himself to be arrested, struck, mocked and spit upon under the authority of the high priest.
- He paid the price when he was scourged by the order of Pilate.
- He paid the price when a crown of thorns was thrust upon his head.
- He paid the price when he carried a timber out to a hill and allowed men to drive nails through his hands and feet.
- He paid the price when he was hung up to slowly and painfully suffocate on the cross.
- He paid the ultimate price when his took on the penalty of sin and was actually separated from the presence of God.
Oh yes, my friend, your sin was not written off as a bad debt. It was paid in full.
And the fact remains that God, who is love, requires payment. Hell, fire and brimstone are not very popular topics for sermons these days, but the truth is they are real. If you refuse the payment Jesus made, you will be held accountable for your own sin at the end of this age. Jesus has been very clear that hell, a very real place of torment, awaits those who reject his sacrifice.
Matthew 13:51-52 – “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
It may seem strange to us that Jesus would liken his disciples to Scribes, since we think of New Testament scribes as being corrupt. However, Jesus is referring to the job itself, not the men who currently occupied the office.
In Old Testament times, the priests were the keepers of the law. They practiced it, studied it and taught it to the general population. But over the course of time, this changed. The more highly esteemed the law became in the eyes of the people, the more the study of the law became its own specialty. A class of scholars arose who were not priests, but devoted themselves wholly to the Law. They became the Scribes – professional students of the law – and they assumed responsibility for teaching that law to the people.
The followers of Jesus were like a new class of scribes. They already knew the Law (Old Testament), and now they were learning and understanding the gospel (New Testament). These truths would be stored up and kept in their hearts and minds, so when an opportunity for teaching/sharing the gospel came, they would be ready to meet the need.
While pastors and scholars fulfill much of this role today, it is the responsibility of every Christian to be ready to share the gospel.
I Peter 3:15 – In your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…
We have freely received the gospel message, we should be ready to freely pass it on to others, that they might also find forgiveness of sin and faith in Christ. We should also be ready to use the gospel to encourage and strengthen each other in the faith.
Matthew 13:53-54 – And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?”
After his teaching was finished, Jesus returned to Nazareth, where we find him speaking in the synagogue. His listeners are astonished.
Had they been astonished at the wisdom Jesus revealed, or at the revelation of the mystery that the kingdom of heaven had come, that would have been a good thing. Had they been astonished to find that God was confirming his word with miracles, that would also have been good. That would have been appropriate. That would have led them to accept the gospel message.
But unfortunately, they are astonished at the wrong thing. Their attention is diverted away from spiritual things to the earthly qualifications of Jesus.
Matthew 13:55-56 – “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?”
They acknowledge that Jesus lived and worked among them for many years, probably as a carpenter. In their eyes, this was all he was – nothing more or less than a mere laborer, whose family they had known for years. At best, he was their equal, or even their inferior. In their eyes, he would never be anything else.
They couldn’t fathom how such a common, lowly man had risen to such heights of knowledge. Nor could they explain the confirmation of his teaching with miracles.
However, the simplest explanation was the correct one – Jesus was something more than a mere man. He was the Messiah, sent by God with a new message of hope for all of mankind.
Matthew 13:57-58 – And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
This is a proverbial expression. Because Jesus possessed an extraordinary endowment from heaven, he was rejected by those who were most familiar with him. The source of this rejection was probably envy, prejudice or malice.
Miracles confirmed the word of truth that Jesus was preaching. Because the people of this town had rejected the message, there was no point in the working of miracles. In fact, if Jesus had worked mighty miracles among them, they most likely would have credited them to sorcery or the power of the devil.
The few miracles that he did do were proof of his mission; it was up to them to accept or reject the truth of the gospel.
Let me offer you some encouragement: The man with the hidden treasure exhibited excitement and even obsession in his quest to dig out the treasure he found. This week, as you ‘dig out’ treasure from the scriptures, I encourage you to focus on recalling just how incredible and amazing your salvation really is. You were lost, but now you are saved. You were a slave to sin, but now you are a son/daughter of God. You were destined for eternal torment, now you have a home prepared for you in heaven. You were shrouded by a spirit of heaviness, but now you wear a garment of praise. You had ashes, now you have beauty.
As we dwell on all that Jesus has provided for us through his sacrifice, we should feel loved and valued by God. His love is no mere empty profession. He has backed his words up with his actions!
Let me offer you some relief: You don’t need a college degree to share the gospel message with others. If you have experienced the life changing power of God, just simply share what God has done for you.
Do you feel like you need some boldness? It was the Holy Spirit who empowered the disciples to share the gospel message with all those around them. Allow the Holy Spirit to baptize you with power and you will find a boldness for sharing the gospel message that you never thought possible!
Let me offer you some strength: In this age, the righteous and the wicked dwell together. Sometimes when we look at the unrighteous people around us, we get frustrated because they seem to be prospering, while we seem to be struggling. I want you to know that righteous people of all generations have noticed this and been bothered by it.
A particularly good example is laid out for us in Psalms 73. The author of this psalm notices that the evil men around him are prosperous, healthy, strong, and free of trouble, even though they are corrupt and wicked. He almost begins to envy them.
But then, in Psalms 73:16-17, he comes to his senses!
Psalms 73:16-17 – But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.
As he enters into the presence of God, he understands. He knows that the prosperity of the wicked is a prelude to their destruction, for destruction is their sure and certain end.
He also understands that his present troubles are contained to a limited time span; a time of testing and growth closely overseen by a merciful heavenly Father, which will be rewarded at the end of the age.
If you need strength for your day, find it the same way the psalmist did – by spending time in the presence of God!