We are all looking for something. Whether we take time to think about it, whether we realize it or not, we spend a large part of life looking for what we define as valuable, or what we come to believe will make life better, more meaningful, and give us purpose, joy, and contentment.
Some people spend a lifetime looking; finding one thing after another after another, but never THE thing. Others search by working hard. They put their heads down and dig into their work - doing what they have to to get by, to be responsible, to make the next paycheck, get through school, raise a family, help their friends, secure a better job, make a difference. Hoping and trusting that the old saying is true: hard work pays off and good things come to those who wait (work).
Matthew 13:44-46 invites us to consider the following questions: What are we searching for? What do we treasure really? How do we pursue that which we value? What if the treasure we seek is not of this world, but of God? How will such discovery impact how we live our lives?
Remember, the word parable literally means to throw alongside - to compare one thing to another in order to teach a moral or spiritual lesson. The challenge is to find the connection, see or hear the truth it offers and then reflect on whether or not we are living by or within that truth. We are invited to figure out how it applies to the way we do things, approach the world around us, and engage with family, friends, neighbors, those we don’t know and those we don’t understand.
It’s like this, Jesus said: you, the believer, the one who follows me, is like someone who found a precious treasure out in the field. In the midst of diligent, disciplined, and devoted work the treasure was found. That’s not the important part, the important part is your response - your reaction to finding it. In this case, selling everything; letting go of everything we think gives us stability, happiness, and control so that like the farmer we can buy the field where the treasure was found.
It’s a commitment. It’s an “all in” kind of discovery. The treasure of the kingdom of God is not just a good idea that maybe if you have time, one day down the road, after you have everything figured out, you carve out an hour or two to consider it. It is not just something pretty to display once a week or take down over the holidays, dust it off, look at it, show it off, and then return to its place on the shelf.
It is so much more. It means so much more. It gives so much more.
Jesus and the good news he proclaimed then and now is the greatest treasure you could possibly imagine and it is yours for the taking - if, like the one in the field, you sell everything else in order to buy the field - you go all in. If you let go of all the other “treasures” accumulated, invested in, bargained with, traded for, or picked up along the way, and claim the treasure of Jesus above all else, it is yours. If you give your whole heart, where the treasure has been buried all along, to Jesus who IS the treasure it is yours for always.
It’s’ like this Jesus said: you, the believer, the one who follows me is like a collector of high end jewelry and you come across the most breathtaking, rarest of gems; the most pure of all diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, or pearls and it's yours for the taking - if you’ll sell everything else; all the other “pearls,” you’ve acquired, let go of all the “precious stones” you’ve collected, and “rocks” you’ve put on display in order to purchase this one pearl that is worth far more than anything else.
Both parables ask us to consider what it means for how we live our life; is there a better way? A more kingdom of God way? How do we perceive our world, and what does this found treasure mean in regard to our interactions with God and others? Does your life and the way you live it align with the parable’s teaching?
Both parables speak to the gift and cost of following Jesus, thrown alongside our assumptions, behaviors, false narratives, and expectations of what our world should look like and what our reaction needs to be for God to implement God’s rule “on earth as it is in heaven” through each of us.
Finding it is only the first step. It's everything that follows that matters most. What will you do with such treasure?
Pastor Jenothy Irvine