8th Sunday After Pentecost
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.” [Matthew 13:44]
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls…” [Matthew 13:45]
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.” [Matthew 13:47]
“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” [Matthew 13:52]
Whenever I hear the word ‘treasure’ I instantly picture in my mind the pirate’s treasure chest filled with gold doubloons and gems overflowing the open chest. It is interesting that pirates never seem to bring a big enough chest to hold their treasure.
The other treasure I think about is one my father told me he and a friend buried when he was 8 or 9 years old. His treasure chest was a tin cigar box. The treasure was roles of Indian head nickels and a few silver dollars.
He and his friend buried their treasure in a field and then made an intricate map with an ‘X’ marking the spot. Now understand that he grew up in Coulee Dam, Washington and if you have ever been there, you would know that all the terrain is rock and calf high sagebrush. Very few trees and every rock looks like every other rock.
My father told me that, some time later, he and his friend went searching for their buried treasure, but even with their map, they could never find where they buried it. After hearing this story, my first question to my father was, ‘Who kept the map all that time?’
The kingdom of heaven is like…a treasure. We all have treasures in our lives. We may not necessarily have a great treasure chest filled with precious gems and coins of gold or silver, but we all have something or even someone we hold dear. I have my very own chest, which holds some of my little treasures.
Throughout my life, I have collected little memorable trinkets that remind me of someone special or some time I experienced. My treasures are not worth anything to anyone but me.
I have the necklace given to me for my confirmation, my old dog tags, a quarter from the year I was born, a note from a girl I loved who broke up with me, coins from many of the different countries I visited and other trinkets.
These are the treasures I keep in my little treasure chest. I don’t bury the chest, keep it in a safe or safety deposit box because I don’t fear anyone stealing them. I don’t take them out every day to look at them, I just leave them on a shelf knowing they are there.
Some of you may have similar treasures. Some of you may have people or family in your lives who you treasure. You may not see them every day, but you would be saddened if you were never able to see them again. Some of your friends or family you may wish to keep safe from all danger and harm in this world because they are important to you.
This type of behavior is not unique to human beings; even my dog will bury a bone so that no other dog can have it. And, like my father’s treasure, she often forgets where she buried it. Yet it is curious on what we as humans place value.
Take the first, one verse parable, about the man who finds a treasure in the field. He found a valuable treasure and hides it again until he can redeem the treasure legally by buying the field and therefore become owner of all that is in it. The merchant in the second one sentence parable seeks out fine pearls, finds one of great value and sells all he has to possess it. Both of these parables show how a person places value on something.
Isn’t this what Jesus did for you and me? Didn’t Jesus come to us in the flesh and blood of a man to seek us out? He came to earth to regain the treasure of his father in heaven. Jesus Christ dug deep into the field of our sin to find us, but because of the Law of our Creator, he could not just spirit us away back to his house.
In order to have us back in his kingdom, he had to obtain us legally, according to the holy and righteous law of his father. To do this, Jesus had to live a life without sin so that his ownership of us would not be questioned. To complete the purchase, he gave up his very life as the ultimate sacrifice for his treasured people.
We are that people. Moses tells the Israelites how, “…the Lord your God had chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” [Deuteronomy 7:6] We are of value to God, but we buried ourselves in the dirt of our sin. We hide ourselves from him every day in our trespasses against Him and against each other.
We are precious to God, but we cannot dig ourselves out of the dirt and place our sin-filled souls in His holy house. We cannot bring His kingdom to us nor can we walk through His front door. We pray that his kingdom come so that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, but God is the one in control. Therefore, it is only right that Christ brings the kingdom of heaven into our midst.
But why would God want us? Talk about the man who has everything! How can we be considered valuable? We are more like stones than pearls. Our sinful nature distorts our shape so that we are not round and smooth. Our sin runs completely through us making us muddy and black not like the bright white color of a valuable pearl. Who would want us? What could God give to buy us? It doesn’t sound like too good of a business deal to me.
Take heart, brothers and sisters, God now possesses us as his treasure. God does value us as a pearl of great worth. What did God sacrifice in order to pay the price of his ownership of us? His Son, Jesus Christ.
Who bought the field? It happens to be the same person that bought the pearl – God himself. The people of this earth, the good and bad, the faithful and faithless make up the field. The treasure that is hidden is here in the children of our Father in heaven.
God redeemed that treasure. This is his most valued possession, his people. We were lost but now we are found. [Luke 15:32] The kingdom of God is within us [Luke 17:21] and our life is hidden with Christ in God [Col. 3:3]. The field is full of dirt but buried there is a treasure.
Now we share the promise of the heavenly kingdom. God came into our lives and purchased us at a great price. Now he can rejoice at redeeming us from our tomb of sin and decay. Because of this, we can, in joy, dedicate our lives to spreading and supporting the kingdom of God.
We have the promise of our Father and we have the sacrifice of his Son. The Son that gave his life so that we will be accepted and deemed righteous before God has shown us how we can tell others about our salvation as his treasured possession.
God sent his Son, Jesus Christ to die for us, to take on our sins as his own; he was buried covered in the dirt of our field. He paid the price to gain us as his possession, his valued treasure; not for a little while, but for all time. He rose from the dead and shook off the dirt of our sins so that we may be with him in his father’s kingdom.
We now have the assurance of the kingdom of heaven. It has been bought and paid for. As we live on this earth we still sin, but we have a treasure inside of us. We have the promise of the kingdom of heaven. With joy, we can give all we have to spread the treasure of God’s saving grace, of God’s kingdom waiting for His people.
Take comfort in the promise that all of what we desire is waiting for us in the kingdom of heaven. Take comfort knowing that we are God’s valued possession.