“‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; 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; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.'”
Here we have two parables about truly recognising the priceless value of the kingdom of heaven and how we should respond to discovering it.
In the first parable we find a farm hand perhaps, ploughing a field and by complete accident finding a priceless treasurer. Now there were no treasure trove laws in the first century. If he had dug the treasure up it would have belonged to the owner of the field. So he fills in the hole where the treasure still lay, went off and sold all he had and bought the field, and after that the treasure was his.
This might be your story. You might have accidentally stumbled across belief in God, perhaps you went into church one day, or stumbled across a service or a sermon online, and for some inexplicable reason faith suddenly started to make sense to you. Suddenly you could see that communion with God, the creator of the universe, the one who holds you in existence by his love, is a treasure of unimaginable value. How should you respond if you suddenly discover this priceless treasure?
The second parable is also about finding a hidden treasure, but this time the find is no accident. Here we find someone who has been searching for years. They have become a connoisseur of priceless pearls. But one day this treasure hunter finds a pear so precious, so beautiful, so valuable, so unlike any he had ever seen before that he had to own it, and so went and sold everything he owned to be able to buy that one pearl.
This might be your story. You might have been coming to church for years, sometimes things make a bit more sense, sometimes things fail to make sense at all. All of a sudden the years of searching seem to come to fruition and you find the joy of communion with the God who made you and who holds you in existence by his love, and that this knowledge is a treasure of indescribable worth. How should you respond to this discovery?
Two finders of treasure: one finding after years of searching, the other by accident, and yet they respond in the same way, ‘he sells everything he has’ to take hold of that treasure.
This might seem extreme to you, but I think this is part of Jesus’ point. If you find something as beautiful, as precious, as life changing as communion with the God who made you, surely that has to become your priority in life?
They gave up everything, but in sacrificing everything they received more than they had given. Whether you have been searching for years or have just now stumbled across communion with God, do not let the moment of joy and realisation slide. Have you discovered the priceless treasure of knowing the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ? Sell everything to hang on to it.
And in giving everything up you will find that you have gained far more that you have given. You will see life in a new and sweeter way. Here are some words of Thomas Traherne, a seventeenth century clergyman and mystic:
Your enjoyment of the world is never right , till every morning you awake in Heaven; see yourself in your Father’s palace; and look upon the skies, the earth and the air as heavenly joys; having such a reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the Angels. The bride of a monarch, in her husband’s chamber, hath no such causes of delight as you.
Traherne, Centuries of Meditations, 28
May you know this delight and rest in it all your days.