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.
Seize the Kingdom With Joy
Over 50 years ago, C.S. Lewis famously wrote,
“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The greatest problem with the human race is a failure to properly praise. It is a failure to rightly rejoice. Sin in all of its various and vicious forms is at its core a pursuit of pleasure in all the wrong places. We were created to crave. We were created to pursue joy and satisfaction. Our fall into sin only disoriented this reality; it didn’t abolish it. Before the Fall, the first humans pursued their joy in God and were never disappointed. However, from the first taste of the lesser pleasure Satan offered, the heart of each and every person to ever walk the face of the earth has been making mud pies in a slum. The palettes of our hearts are simply far too easily satisfied. And the ominous reality of tasting sin and seeing it as good is that the very thing we delight in are slowly but surely killing us from the inside out.
The best news about the gospel is that God doesn’t call us to stop seeking pleasure. Instead, he brings us to the place where we will truly find pleasure. Nothing stopped the men in our parables today from obtaining their treasure. In the end, they get the object of their affections. The man buys the field. The merchant buys the pearl. Those sold possessions are long forgotten. The best news about the kingdom is that if you want it God will give it to you. If your heart desires to have the kingdom, your Father will give it to you.
One day, the King will return, and he will consummate his kingdom. He will bring his work to completion and we will finally be home. In that perfected kingdom, our joy will be complete and there will be no sin to kill every day, because it will be eternally dead. In that day, there will be no racism or fear or terrorism. We will be fully reconciled to God and one another in Christ.
There is no limit to the kind of joy found in finding the kingdom. When you see the kingdom for what it is, you will savor it. And your joy will compel you to rid your life of anything that could keep you from rejoicing supremely in Jesus. Finally, nothing will keep you from receiving the kingdom. If you want it, it’s yours. The price has already been paid. Christ Jesus died for sinners, and he invites them into his eternal kingdom. But the only way you can enter is by finding more joy in Jesus than anything else.
God created you to rejoice in him. What is the chief end of man? To glorify God by enjoying him forever. Don’t settle for lesser pleasures. Open the eyes of your heart to see the treasure of the kingdom, a pearl without compare, and in your joy, sell all your puny pleasures to gain pleasures that are forevermore. Give up your mud-pie making and enjoy a day at the beach. I’ll close out this series with these words from Piper, “Fix your eyes on the all-satisfying treasure of Jesus Christ who loved us and gave his life as a ransom for our everlasting joy.”
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.