Today I want to give you a picture of Jesus and his kingdom from a couple of very short parables. During this time of year as people think a little more about Jesus in the world and in their lives, we want to have a full and correct view of Jesus. Jesus told parables to see who would want to come to him and learn more. He said challenging words to try to spark a spiritual flame in the crowds so that they would want to know him and his teachings. What Jesus says about himself and pursuing him is surprising and yet important if we are going to fully appreciate him: why he came into this world, why he lived his life the way he did, why he died, and why he rose from the dead. Listen to these two short parables in Matthew 13.
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. 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. (Matthew 13:44–46 ESV)
The Value of Jesus
Two really short parables that are easy to quickly pass over without giving much thought. But I want us to slow down and consider what Jesus just said about himself and his kingdom. Jesus pictures himself and his kingdom as a treasure of great value. In the first parable we see a picture of a hidden treasure. In the second parable we see a picture of one pearl of great value. Jesus pictures what he is giving to us as priceless. Jesus is offering us a treasure. Jesus is offering us great value. But the first problem is that as humanity we do not see the value in Jesus or in what he is trying to offer. Isaiah prophesied that this would be the case when Jesus came into the world. Listen to what Isaiah said.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; he was despised, and we didn’t value him. (Isaiah 53:3 CSB)
God tells us that the problem will be that we will not value Jesus for the extraordinary worth that he is. We will not see him as the treasure. We will not value the kingdom he is offering for us to enjoy. So this is the essence of these two parables. Look carefully again at these two parables and you will see it.
The Search for Value
Jesus describes this a hidden treasure. How did this person find a hidden treasure? He must have been looking for it. You see this idea confirmed in the second parable. The merchant is in search of fine pearls. You have to be a person who is looking for treasure. You have to be looking for great worth in your life. So I want us to think about how every human is wired. We are all looking for more. We are all looking for something better. In fact, Satan uses that pursuit against us, telling us that these sins are going to be the great value and treasure for your life. Jesus pictures these people looking for more. They are searching for value. They are searching for worth and meaning. They are wanting the treasures of life.
The Hidden Value of Jesus
But there is another important component of these parables. Spiritual treasures are hidden. True treasures with great worth and value are hidden. God’s treasures are not obvious. God made it where we have to be seeking for it. This is what we saw in our last lesson in the parable of the sower and why Jesus told parables. Who really wants to look? Who really wants to find great treasure? When I grew up in San Diego you would find a number of people each day who would walk around the beach with metal detectors. It is interesting to watch this people do this. If you watch one, you will notice that they do not walk fast. They can’t because they are on a search. So they walk slowly sweeping the detector back and forth. They have headphones over their ears, carefully listening to the sounds. They are not talking to anyone else. They are not taking in the sights. They are not listening to music. They are not distracted. They are sweeping and listening. Sometimes you will see them stop because they have picked up on something. They will mark the spot and then they will dig until they determine what is under the sand. I have sat on the beach and wondered why they go through all the effort and all the expense and all the time to make this search. It does not seem worth it to me. But it is to them because they want to find a treasure. I can say that I want to find treasure. But these people show that they truly want to find hidden treasures. To make the point another way: Jesus and his kingdom treasures are only given to those who really want it.
Giving All for the Value of Jesus
This leads us to the other part found in both of these parables. Both sell all that they have to acquire the treasure. The person who finds the hidden treasure in the field sells all that he has and buys the field. The merchant sells all that he has and buys the pearl of great value. Now this is an important picture that Jesus gives also. Both sell all that they have. Jesus repeatedly says that if you want to be his disciple you must take up your cross to follow him (cf. Matthew 10:38; 16:24). Jesus will also say to the crowds that you must lose your life for his sake to have true life (Matthew 10:39; 16:25). Now what happens within us when we hear these words? We start thinking about the pain of denying ourselves. We start thinking about the sacrifice of having to carry a cross to follow him. We start thinking about all we are losing if we have to lose our lives to find Jesus.
But I want you to take another look at these two people in this parable. Are these people pictured as sorrowful for what they have to give up to have the treasure? Are they disappointed because they have to give up so much for the pearl? Do they think of what they are doing as an obligation or required duty? Why are they selling all that they have? They are selling all that they have because they want to. There is nothing in this parable described as a painful obligation to have Jesus and to belong to his kingdom.
Not only do they desire to sell all that they have, but look at the person who found the hidden treasure. Jesus says that he sells all that he has in his joy. He joyfully gives up everything. How can you joyfully give up everything you have? How can you joyfully sell everything? What would make you get rid of everything? There is only one way that these people do this. They understand the value of the treasure. To apply the parable that Jesus is telling, people who understand the surpassing worth of Jesus and his kingdom will joyfully give everything up. They will joyfully give their lives to Jesus. They will joyfully worship. They will joyfully follow him. They will joyfully say no to sin. They will joyfully lay down their lives for Jesus. Listen to how the apostle Paul expressed this idea.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 and be found in him… (Philippians 3:7–9 ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)
Do we see that Paul has the perspective that Jesus is teaching in this parable? Paul will give up everything for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ because knowing him and belonging to him is not worth comparing to anything in this world. So this tells us something really important. If we do not want to give our lives completely to Jesus, then we do not treasure him with the surpassing value that he is. We are placing a higher value on our own lives. We are placing a higher value on our sins. We are placing a higher value on our pleasures and desires. We are placing a higher value on our wealth, comfort, and entertainment. We simply do not see the value. No one who finds a billion dollar hidden treasure is upset that they have to sell all that they have to generate enough cash to pay $100,000 to buy the property. No one says it is going to be so hard to do this. In the same way, no one comes to Jesus and dejectedly asks, “What do I have to give up for you?” No one will ask, “What do I have to do?” Rather, your heart is going to be on fire to get the treasure. You are going to in ask in your joy, “What can I do to get this treasure?”
If you think about the parable, this idea becomes evident. Why would a person sell the pearl of great value to the merchant? Why would the land owner sell the land to the person who found the hidden treasure? Neither of them saw the value in what they possessed. They have great treasure right in front of their faces but they do not recognize it. They do not value it. This is the darkness that the whole world is put under as Isaiah prophesied that we noted earlier. This is what the Gospel of John says.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19 ESV)
Jesus came into the world. The problem is that we do not see his value. We love our sins and evil works more than we love who he is and what he is offering to us. We would rather keep what we have than give it up for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. Now here is what is silly about our decision. We cannot keep anything that we have anyway. Each one of us is going to die. We cannot keep anything that we have. Everything in this world is temporary. Nothing in this world lasts. But we proclaim that we would rather have the temporary for a moment now and then have nothing than give up the temporary now so we can have eternal joy. Jesus is trying to open our blind eyes and show us that he is the hidden treasure that is greater than all there is in life and he is worth changing everything in your life to have him.
So let’s end with some thoughts. First, it is not enough to say that I see the treasure. There are so many people who say that they know Jesus. There are many people who think that having a general knowledge of Jesus is all that he desires. But Jesus told these parables to show that there is more than just saying that we know Jesus.
Second, it is not enough to say that I see the value of the treasure. There are many people who say that they think Jesus is important. They will say Jesus is valuable. They will even claim to follow Jesus. But they do not do anything to show that Jesus is valuable.
Third, the only way to show the value of the treasure is to give everything to have the treasure. The only way Jesus is proclaimed as the treasure of our lives is by changing how we live so that he is truly our priority. Listen to this final parable.
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. 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. (Matthew 13:47–50 ESV)
In the end, Jesus is going to sort out who treasured him for the surpassing worth of who he is and who just said it but did nothing about it in their lives. Nothing in life can keep us from having Jesus. Until that is true, then we are not treasuring Christ in the way he deserves and have not received the treasure he is offering to each one of us. Jesus is the hidden treasure in the world and there is no greater treasure or joy than him. He is worth knowing and worth completely giving everything in your life to have him. If we do not want him and do not treasure him, then we have made our decision and we will not be with him when it is time for eternity to begin.