Matthew 13:44; 45-46: “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. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Recently my family bought and moved into a different home in Buchanan. We looked at several different houses, but none of them were right for us. Then we found the home which had everything we were looking for – an attached two-car garage, first-floor laundry, a larger kitchen, and a fenced-in back yard. When we found this house, we acted as quickly as we could to sell the house we had so that we could go and buy this other home. It’s not that we didn’t like our previous home or that it wasn’t valuable to us. It’s just that our new home was more valuable to us than what we had and so we were willing to make the exchange.
Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like this, only on a much greater scale. When we discover the Kingdom and recognize its surpassing value, we are willing to give up all that we have in order to get it. It’s like walking through a field and bumping your foot against something hard. When you look down to see what you have stumbled onto, the shape of the object looks unusual, so your interest is piqued, and you begin digging. Then you discover that this is no rock but rather a treasure chest filled with gold. The gold in that box is worth far more than all your property, possessions, and bank accounts combined. So, you go sell all you have and then purchase the field from the owner at what seems like an astronomical price, but you know that what you are really getting is a hidden treasure whose worth is untold.
So, one point of this parable is the surpassing worth of the Kingdom of God. When we realize that entering the Kingdom is the opportunity to be united with God in fellowship forever, to live with other people on this earth as we were created to live, and to devote ourselves to God’s mission we realize that nothing could be greater or more valuable than saying ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ.
The other point of the parable, however, is the cost at which entrance into the Kingdom is acquired: it costs us everything we have. The man had to sell all he had to be able to buy the field with the hidden treasure. The fisherman had to sell all he had in order to buy the pearl of great value.
The cost of entering the Kingdom of Heaven is something on which we need to meditate, for many of us have not truly comprehended what is involved. The nature of this cost is illustrated in different ways in the Gospels. When the rich young man came to Jesus he said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Mt. 19:16). Jesus’ first answer was that he needed to keep the commandments (v. 17-19). The young man replied that he had kept the commandments, but that he knew something was still missing (v. 20). Then Jesus said to him,
Matthew 19:21: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
This call was stern and radical. It was a call that would have separated this young man from all that he had inherited and worked for and left him without worldly security. It would have cut the ropes of his old life and bound him tightly to Jesus alone. The rich young man could not come to terms with this: “When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (v. 22). The amazing thing here is that Jesus did not adjust his demand in order to accommodate this man’s wealth. Jesus didn’t rush after him and say, “Hey buddy, on second thought, why don’t you just agree to give ten percent of your wealth to the poor and we’ll call it good. You can follow me on the weekends.” No, Jesus let this young man walk away. The cost for inheriting eternal life truly was as Jesus stated it: “Go, sell what you possess.” There is no half-way in the life of Christian discipleship. You are either all-in, or all-out. You are either totally surrendered to Jesus, or you aren’t. You either sell all you have to buy the field with the hidden treasure, or you forget it about it and go on with your life as it was before. There is no in-between.
At another moment in his ministry Jesus made the cost of following Him even more clear. Peter had confessed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of God (Luke 9:20) and then Jesus quickly explained that what awaited Him as Messiah was not the glory of an earthly king but rather rejection and suffering:
Luke 9:21-22: And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Then, on the heels of this statement concerning his own destiny Jesus went on to explain the path which his followers must travel:
Luke 9:23-25: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”
Brothers and sisters, Christian discipleship isn’t a weekend sport for the half-interested. It is a radical surrender of ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It is self-denial and cross-bearing and losing our lives in allegiance to Jesus.
This is why it is so significant that Christian baptism is pictured in terms of death and resurrection (Romans 6:1-4). The death we die when we are baptized into Christ is not metaphorical. It’s not just an idea. Rather, it is the reality of the exchange of our old life in sin for a new life in the righteousness of God (Rom. 6:12-14, 19). Baptism is both a renunciation of the self-life and an embrace of the Jesus-life.
So, the question is, have we surrendered all that we have to follow Jesus? Have we recognized the limitless worth of the Kingdom of God and let go of our possessions in order to enter it?
Take time now to seek God. This brief prayer can help you get started: “Heavenly Father, I admit that I have wanted to live the in-between life. I have wanted to follow Jesus and still live for myself. I have not surrendered all that I have and all that I am to you. Lord, bring me to foot of the cross where Jesus gave himself completely for us. Remove the idols from my life. I surrender myself to you now, that I will be completely and totally yours. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”