Thursday, June 5, 2014

Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44)

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44, NASB95)

In working through the parables I noticed that Matthew used a different phrasing than the other gospel writers. Rather than saying “kingdom of God” which is consistently used elsewhere, Matthew used the phrasing “kingdom of heaven.” The reasoning for this is likely that his gospel was tailored more toward Jewish readers who were sensitive to saying the name of God, and rather than offend their sensibilities he substituted “heaven” as a euphemism for “God.” Whatever the actual reason, we can be assured that they are one in the same kingdom which for now is in our midst, but one day will result in Christ returning to reign.

The Jews had been looking for a Messiah who would come to conquer and physically reign, and they were not prepared for what Jesus was presenting to them. The Pharisees, not believing Jesus to be the Messiah, questioned Him about when the kingdom of God would come. They were likely expecting to expose Him as a fraud or false teacher and false Messiah and also as an insurgent against Rome. They were expecting that He would respond by saying that this millennial reign was imminent and that Rome would soon be overthrown. However, Jesus did not respond as they had expected, saying “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20b–21, NASB95) While the prophets did speak of a time when the Messiah would reign here on earth, this was not to be that time. What the Pharisees and others were missing was that Christ must first be rejected and suffer death on a cross for the sins of man. They were also missing that the Messiah (Savior) would then rise from the dead on the third day, be seen by many for a time, ascend to heaven for a time while His church grew here on earth, and then ultimately return after the Great Tribulation to bring all of Israel to Himself. In the time between His ascension and His coming to remove His church His temple was to be here on earth and He would rule in the hearts of those who believe.

In our parable for today Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a man who finds a treasure hidden in a field, and being so excited about what he found he bought up the whole field. To those who do not know God and are perishing their pursuits in life may vary depending on what they value or maybe even what they fear losing. This living of life apart from God will continue until Jesus returns, and when He returns it will be a day of great distress for those who did not look to Him. Jesus compared this to the days of the great flood and the destruction of Sodom. “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26–30, NASB95) Clearly we read in Scripture that for all of man there is a day that will be too late. Whether this happens prior to Christ’s eventual return or in death, one day all who reject Him will be judged guilty of their sins and eternally separated from God.

These are the ones who have no idea of the great value lying, as in Jesus’ parable, just below their feet or right in front of their eyes. There are the ones about whom Paul wrote, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3–4, NASB95) But then Paul went on to write, “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;” (2 Corinthians 4:5–7, NASB95)

Imagine going out into a strange field and finding the tip of a treasure that sparks your interest. Not wanting to lose what you stumbled across and knowing that it is not yours, you bury it again and immediately go buy the entire field with all of the mineral rights. Then you return to not only dig up the initial find, but you then explore the entire field for its hidden riches. It might be compared to the prospector who found gold, secretively hid its location, and rushed to the closest land office in order to file his claim. Being saved is just the tip of the riches, but we don’t have to hide it and run off to file a claim. We have been given the great privilege of stopping right where we are when our eyes are opened to speak to God who holds the rights to life, and simply ask Him. Scripture tells us, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21, NASB95) In Romans we read, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him;” (Romans 10:9–12, NASB95)

The one who finds salvation in Christ finds the ultimate treasure in a restored relationship with the Living God, and as a result his entire life is changed beginning right away. Salvation is a gift from God, not as a result of anything we have done. In fact we really don’t even discover it, as it is God who gives us the faith to believe. It is not a profit of our pursuits and our accomplishments. It is not a trophy that we won to display on our shelves. God loved us so much that He subjected His Son to pay the penalty for our sins so that we might believe and be saved and come to know Him in richer and richer ways. With our salvation comes our adoption as His children and a forever relationship with our God who is without limit in any way. There is no greater gift, no greater hope, and no greater treasure. And there is enough to go around for all who believe.

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