In Matthew 13:44-46, Matthew records two of Jesus’ shortest parables. However, while there isn’t a lot of drawn out detail or extended storyline, there is profound gospel truth here. On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be much going on in these parables. But upon further review, we can easily overturn that call and say that the most important truth in the entire universe is summed up in these two parables. The greatest news for those in Christ and the worst news for those not in Christ are each found in these parables.
Over the next four days, I’ll be offering four separate reflections on the Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Parable of the Pearl of Great Value. My goal is not merely to (hopefully) say some helpful things in the unpacking of these verses. I also hope to teach you to linger on a passage. Meditation fans the flame of affections for God in the heart of a Christian. And true biblical meditation takes time. Slow and intentional lingering in the Word is a good and necessary discipline for anyone wanting to draw nearer to God.
Within the two parables of Matthew 13:44-46, there are four elements that convey one main point. I’ve outlined each of these elements in the following chart. While these parables differ in specific detail, they include the same four elements and convey the same truth.
|FOUR ELEMENTS||TREASURE HIDDEN IN A FIELD||PEARL OF GREAT PRICE|
|Seeing||A man stumbles upon a treasure||A man seeks after a great pearl|
|Savoring||He rejoices in what he sees||He rejoices in what he sees|
|Sacrificing||His joy compels him to sell all he has to get it||His joy compels him to sell all he has to get it|
|Seizing||He buys the field to get the treasure||He buys the pearl|
In short, the main point of the parables of the hidden treasure and pearl of great value is that the kingdom of heaven is so valuable that losing everything you have, but gaining the kingdom is a bargain.
The four elements within these parables include seeing, savoring, sacrificing, and seizing.
Savor the Kingdom as Your Supreme Treasure
When you see the kingdom for what it is, you will savor it. So, the second element to these parables and the second truth for you is to savor the kingdom as your supreme treasure. How do these men respond to the treasures they have found? There is no trial and error process for them. There is only immediate response. But in the midst of the action, which we will get to in a minute, there is something slightly unexpected. The first thing that happens after the men find their treasures is they experience heart-racing, adrenaline-pumping joy. Both men rejoice in what they see.
In the first parable, Jesus explicitly says, “Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” We would expect joy to come at the end of his transaction. We would expect the man to experience joy after he bought the field. But the man’s joy begins the moment after he sees the treasure. He savored what he saw.
In the second parable, Jesus says nothing about the man selling all he had to buy the pearl. But he doesn’t have to. What kind of man would sell all of his possessions, including a great many pearls, to buy one pearl if he didn’t rejoice in it? Begrudging duty cannot lead to such radical sacrifice. Only vibrant joy can lead to the kind of sacrifice this man made to get the pearl.
Jesus compares this to the kingdom of heaven. Entering the kingdom is an act of joy. It is the act of a heart that has been given life to find its greatest joy in God. The attitude of someone who has found an unsurpassable treasure in the gospel has the attitude of the Psalmists.
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” – Psalm 73:25
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” – Psalm 84:10
Oh, see and savor Jesus Christ as your supreme treasure! Savor him as the immeasurably satisfying sovereign that he is! John Piper has said, “A non-treasured is a non-saving Christ.” Oh, what good news this is for those who have seen and savored Christ as a treasure. The way to receive the kingdom is marked by great joy! Rejoice in the Lord Jesus above everything else, and you will be saved. The essence of true conversion and true saving faith is supreme joy in God. And when you have him, the words of Jared Wilson ring true, “A taste of God’s goodness ruins you for worldly delicacies.”
When you have tasted the splendor of the gospel, nothing else will do. No other joy can satisfy like the joy of the kingdom. It is a treasure and a pearl without compare. Nothing compares to knowing God in Christ. I invite you to come to Christ for the simple and profound reason that he is better than anything else in the world.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.