Matthew 13 is all about parables. Parables are common stories used to communicate a spiritual point (at least this is how Jesus used them). Jesus used this line of communication to impact the people around him on a consistent basis. He met people where they were so the message of the gospel could change who they were. As I’ve been studying and meditating on the parables of Jesus, Matthew 13:44 probably impacts me the most. Jesus states,
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.
Such a small verse, but it demonstrates the weight and the importance of God’s kingdom.
First, it states that the kingdom of God is a treasure. Kingdom’s have always been measured by their expanse and the richness they produce. During the time of Jesus, there was no greater kingdom than Rome. There was also the Jewish nation of Israel, which his audience longed for a return to prominence. It was during this timeframe, for the Jews, seeking the messiah meant looking for the warlord king who would return Israel to her gloried days; a return to the prosperous and influential time of King David. I find this to be interesting because as much animosity existed between the Jews and Pagans of the first century they had one thing in common: They both believed in the physicalness of kingdoms. Such an attitude is also mimicked by the powers of the nations around the world today. Everyone jockeys for position in the global game of chess believing and hoping that they are the rightful heirs to a position of unmatched power, economy, and influence.
Second, notice what Jesus states about the kingdom in Matthew 13:44 it is hidden. What!? This seems like an oxymoron for no “true” kingdom is hidden. Kingdoms are big, expansive, and expensive. They demonstrate the might and will of the nation-state. So why is this kingdom, this Jesus kingdom, hidden? The kingdom is hidden because of all the extracurriculars that encompass us and distract us. Think of all the kingdoms we obsess over in our daily lives: twitter followers; tweets; Instagram followers; the accumulation of Facebook friends; popularity at school; making more money; doing more stuff; politics; celebrity; sports; etc., When we seek to please the superficial kings of the worldly kingdoms, the true kingdom will be hidden.
Third, the kingdom can be found! Deeper than the superficial wants and fleshly desires which the world offers as a pseudo kingdom, is the kingdom. In this parable, the person here finds it and from overflowing joy, sells everything that he has in order to purchases the field. Did you catch that? He sold everything, he gave up everything out of the overflow of knowing he had found the treasure! He didn’t give up half o a quarter. He gave up all!
But why? Why all? Because the man understood that the value of the treasure in comparison to what he owned. The point that Jesus is seeking to make with his audience is that the true kingdom, the one not defined by flags, statues, monuments, might, force, political power, economic strength, is more valuable than anything this world has to offer. Thus, the person who finds the kingdom of Jesus and understands its value, will not just trade or sell all they have, but do so from the position of exceeding joy. Notice what Paul writes in Philippians 1:21-24 and 3:8,
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ for that is far better but to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account…..Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…
Hard pressed between life and death? Counting all things as rubbish? suffering the loss of everything? Yep. Paul understands the value of the kingdom…the treasure of knowing Christ.
Think of what that means for Christians: In knowing Jesus, we experience the full weight and value of God’s kingdom because we have an intimate, inseparable, relationship with the King. Just as Romans 8 states, that in knowing him there is no judge who can sentence us, no one to condemn us, and nothing that can separate us from God’s love. In this treasure known as Jesus, God has given us all things, because he purchases us with his Son. It also means we may have to give up the kingdoms of politics, position, and power. It means we willingly give up our lives. It means, that possessions of life have no weight or sway because they aren’t king. We give those up joyfully, in light of what is found in Christ.
Think of what families would look like if such a treasure was the anchor of the household. How would communities and schools be shaped by people who truly understood and lived for the Kingdom? How freeing would it be to rid ourselves of trying to appeal and live up to the ever-fluctuating whims and expectations of the superficial kingdoms of the world., Oh what peace there would be knowing that the treasure is also the King who is fixed, immovable, and gracious.
My prayer is that we would consider the value of the treasure and live for the King and for his Kingdom.