Parable of the Hidden Treasure, 9 August 2015

Matthew 13:44

Series Overview:
this summertime series will examine the various parables of Jesus recorded in thirteenth chapter of Matthew.

Big Idea: You are a treasure to God. God wants to be your treasure.


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word treasure?

For some it may be the quest of the Goonies, that group of kids in the 1985 movie.

For others it might be a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean.

If your home caught on fire and you could take one non-living thing, what would you take? Why?

Treasure is a great word. Treasure Island. Treasure chest. Treasure hunt. Oh boy!

We’re in the middle of a series on the parables from the thirteenth chapter of the book of Matthew. Jesus loved to tell stories. In fact, last week we briefly read

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the
creation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35)

These are strong words! He spoke nothing to the crowds without using parables or stories.

It’s important to note these stories were loaded. They were intentional. They were dangerous and offensive and elicited a response. Jesus was not an entertainer filling time during lunch break. He was a revolutionary storyteller.

We mentioned last week most of the parables are not interpreted for us. They don’t read like the Ten Commandments and, therefore, we must humbly attempt to extract their original meaning and then bring it into our current context and apply it.
When we come to verse 44, Jesus has left the crowd and gone into a house where His disciples ask Him to explain the parables.

Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” (Matthew 13:36)

We looked at His explanation of the weeds two weeks ago. Then we come to today’s text:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Jesus is again teaching His disciples about the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. It is the rule and reign of Christ. The bulk of Jesus’ teachings were about the kingdom of heaven—what happens when heaven touches earth and God’s divine plan is executed on our planet.

Jesus taught on the kingdom.
Jesus ushered the kingdom upon the earth.
The kingdom is here now…and also not yet! We are experiencing aspects of it in 2015, but it has not yet been fully realized.

Perhaps it’s like the Detroit Lions. They are a football team. They have many players and coaches. They workout, individually and together. But people can’t fully experience the Detroit Lions until their first exhibition game on August 13…and yet it’s not until their first regular season game on September 13 that they will be fully actualized.

Jesus came to our planet and gave us glimpses of the future. He taught what it means to be truly human. His vision was one of ultimate human flourishing. Yet clearly His rule and reign on earth is not fully realized today. But it’s coming. And it’s also now.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. (Matthew 13:44a)

Why would someone hide a treasure? There were no bank safety deposit boxes then!

Do you have hidden treasure? Where is it hidden?!

Would you hide a treasure in a field?
Jesus is saying the kingdom—His rule and reign—is like hidden treasure. It is real but not visible. It is intentional but not known. Someone hid a treasure in a field.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)

A man finds the treasure. How? Perhaps he was a worker in the field, digging up dirt.

When we were in the Dominican Republic we did a lot of digging…every morning. We found some hidden treasure. Actually we found quite a lot! We unearthed clothing, bottles, trash, …ok, nothing of any real value! It was rather startling, though, to find various things under my shovel besides dirt and rocks!

Have you ever found a treasure? One of my favorite Christmas gifts as a kid was a metal detector. I had visions of finding great treasures at the beach. I think the only thing I ever found with it was pop cans!

This man finds the hidden treasure in a field and digs it up…NO! He hides it! He doesn’t want anyone to know about it, but he’s excited. In his joy he goes and sells everything he had to buy the field.

Last year there was great commotion around here about hidden treasure in the form of oil and natural gas. Our church was among many landowners in Scio Township offered money for our property—or at least access to what’s under the ground, the mineral rights. Eventually the land was deemed unsuitable for profitable drilling, but you better believe property values would escalate if oil was found.

In Jesus’ parable the field suddenly had extra value—to the man who knew what it contained. Can you imagine selling everything you have to buy a field? If the field contained enough treasure it would be a no-brainer!

What Does It Mean?

Jesus’ message is for each of us to wander in the field of strangers, search for treasure, sell everything we have, and buy the land. This is His strategy for real estate development, right? Hardly!

To fully understand Jesus’ parable we must understand the context.

Jesus is Jewish. The Jews are awaiting a Messiah (who is right in front of them!).

Most believe the field is the world and the buried treasure is the nation of Israel and/or the Church, the people of God. We don’t live underground in a box, but in many ways we are out of sight. Like the yeast we discussed last Sunday, growth is often slow and invisible.

What did Jesus do save/redeem us? He gave everything He had—His very self! Jesus bought Israel and us with His blood.

So What?

I want to suggest two responses to this passage. First, recognize how much God loves us. We are a treasure to Him. It seems crazy but from Genesis to Revelation it is clear God loves His children. He went to the most extraordinary lengths to prove it, sending Jesus to not only visit but die for us.

Second, what is your treasure? What would you sell everything for?

I remember multiple occasions when Heather and I talked to doctors about various treatment options for our sick child. Money was no object when it meant our child’s health. At one point we considered selling our house to pay the medical bills.

What is your treasure? Who is your treasure? The interesting thing about the treasure in this story is it is hidden. The kingdom of God is somewhat hidden. Salvation and the righteousness of the kingdom are greater treasures than anything the world has to offer.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold (though I often want silver and gold, too!).

Many of us are so familiar with God, so familiar with the gospel that Jesus is Lord, so familiar with the kingdom we forget their true value. The kingdom is the greatest treasure we can ever find and we must give thanks for this precious gift and joy.

What is your treasure? Who is your treasure? Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)

Paul’s ready to trade everything for Christ and His Kingdom.

What do you truly desire? What’s your treasure? How do your actions show it?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Radical Abandonment, 30 October 2011

  • Big Idea: Jesus abandoned everything in heaven for you and for me. He invites us to radically abandon everything on earth for Him.

  • Mark 10:17-31

  • If there is one key verse for the series, it is Luke 14:33 where Jesus says,

  • …any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

  • For those of you looking for a loophole in the Greek, the word for everything—pas—means “all, everything, whole, always.”

  • Jesus demands radical abandonment—of everything: our time, talent, treasures, relationships, future, education, work, dreams, spouse, children, family…He wants it all!

  • Jesus’ teachings are filled with paradox. They defy conventional wisdom and political correctness. They are the polar opposite of the American Dream that says our highest aim in life should be the pursuit of happiness.

  • Look what Jesus said a few chapters earlier in Luke 9:24

  • For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

  • A few chapters later, He repeats a similar thought

  • Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33)

  • He wants all or nothing.

  • Today’s text is found in Mark’s biography of Jesus.

  • As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

  • “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

  • “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” (10:17-20)
  • Maybe you could say this. You’ve been a good boy or girl. You have lived a good life, never killed anyone, played by the rules, avoided speeding tickets, been a devoted Michigan football fan…!

  • Where did Jesus get this list of commandments? From the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Let’s review them together:

  • 1. No other Gods (Exodus 20:3)
  • 2. No idols (4-6)
  • 3. Do not misuse the name of the LORD (7)
  • 4. Remember the Sabbath (8-11)
  • 5. Honor your father and mother (12)
  • 6. Do not murder (13)
  • 7. Do not commit adultery (14)
  • 8. Do not steal (15)
  • 9. Do not lie (16)
  • 10. Do not covet (17)

  • How did you do? Most people that I’ve met would say they are pretty good—after all, they haven’t killed anyone! To be honest, I struggle daily with the first two. I find myself putting my desires above God’s, longing for health and wealth and happiness and doing just about anything to be safe and comfortable despite the needs around me. I look at my favorite idol every time I stand in front of a mirror. But that’s just me!

  • This man was a good man. He obeyed all of the commandments. He probably could’ve been a pastor or elder himself. He had arrived…almost.

  • Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (10:21)

  • Was that in God’s top ten list? I missed that!

  • At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (10:22)

  • Wait! Let’s go back to those first two commandments.

  • 1. No other Gods (Exodus 20:3)
  • 2. No idols (4-6)

  • Do you see what happened?

  • Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” (10:23)

  • You are rich. Across the country at this very moment there are people occupying Wall Street and other public venues with one slogan. What is it? We are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.

  • Here’s the truth, though: I’m in the 1%. Many of you are, too. No, we’re not among the richest 1% of USAmericans, but we are among the richest 1% on the planet. If you earn $48,000 or more, you are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. $32,000 places you in the top 6 %, and if you only earned $12,000 you’re still in the top 13%!

  • The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (10:24-25)

  • Why? It’s all about need. It’s about dependence upon God.

  • The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

  • Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (10:26-27)

  • Many of us know this famous verse—all things are possible with God. Look at the context, though. It’s about salvation. Jesus is saying that we can be saved despite our wealth and idols.

  • I recently heard an interview with a highly educated Muslim man talking about his Islamic faith. When asked if he had any certainty about his eternal destination, he replied that God only knows. He is spending his entire life trying to be good enough to earn God’s favor in hopes that he will pass the test on judgment day and go to heaven rather than hell.

  • Maybe some of you are like that. You’ve been trying hard to be good so God will love you. You have more in common, perhaps, than Muslims. The religion of Christianity has said we must behave a certain way in order to believe and ultimately belong, but Jesus came to abolish religion. He came to offer grace, allow the unworthy to know God, invite sinners to heaven, and provide joy and peace and love to the unlovable.

  • The amazing thing about Jesus is grace, unmerited favor.

  • This past week I had a dear friend call me. We hadn’t talked in many months—maybe even years—but he was concerned that because he had turned away from God in the past, he was destined to hell despite his desire to follow Jesus again. I had him read the end of Romans 8 to remind him that nothing can separate us from the love of God—not even the terrible things we do.

  • That’s grace! If we want God, He will always welcome us with open arms as did the Father in the prodigal son. That’s the good news! That’s the Gospel! It’s not about what we do, but what was done on the cross for us. None of us can be saved—not rich or poor—apart from Jesus and the cross.

  • “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.” - Dallas Willard

  • Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”

  • “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. (10:28-30)

  • What does this say about those who radically follow Jesus? It will be worth it.

  • Jesus then concludes with one of His most famous paradoxical statements:

  • But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (10:31)

  • Play now and pay later or pay now and play later. The choice is yours. You can cling to this world, or invest in the world to come.

  • We use a lot of words to describe God. Jesus. Teacher. Savior. King. Son. Prince of Peace. Father. Perhaps the most challenging is LORD. He gives us commands, not considerations or suggestions. He’s not out to get us, though. He knows that if we lose ourselves, we will find. If we give, we will receive. If we surrender, we will discover freedom. If we die, we will truly live.

  • The Apostle Paul, arguably the most important figure in the New Testament after Jesus, said

  • I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)

  • Paul is either insane or he is saying that by dying, he can experience resurrection and new life. When we die to ourselves, God can begin to recreate us. As the prophet Ezekiel wrote,

  • I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26

  • You’ve got to let go, though.

  • Never Alone

  • This is a challenging message. This has been a challenging series. I’ve been reminded each week that I need to die, and just when I feel like every part of me has been surrendered, I discover another place where I’m holding on. Death can be scary, especially when everyone else around us is living their normal lives.

  • This is where the Church becomes so vital. We are a family. We are a community. We need one another. We need to encourage one another. We need to mentor and disciple one another. We need to spur one another on toward our own death and Christ’s life.

  • Perhaps the most graphic description of this is found in the second chapter of the book of Acts.

  • They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

  • Do you see it?

  • They were radically committed to the Word of God and the apostle’s teaching.
  • They were radically committed to fellowship together, in public and in homes.
  • They were radically committed to prayer, experiencing miracles.
  • They were radically generous, giving to anyone as he had need.
  • They were radically committed to one another, meeting together daily.

  • This was not a perfect church, but it was a radical one. I cannot imagine a more compelling vision for Scio—a group of normal but radical people, passionately committed to loving Jesus, one another, and their neighbors.

  • It doesn’t just happen, though. We can’t wish it into reality. It requires total surrender, but it’s worth it.

  • We are not alone. He is not only with us, He has given us one another to encourage each other. This world is not our home. We are just visiting this planet...together.

  • Radical abandonment is about giving up anything that gets between us and God’s leadership. Do you trust Him…with everything? 

  • Jesus abandoned everything in heaven for you and for me. He invites us to radically abandon everything on earth for Him.

  • You can listen to the podcast here.