The Hidden Treasure
The Hidden Treasure
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Bible Passage: Matthew 13:44-46
Well good morning, I’m so excited to be here with you this morning. My name is Stephen Felker, I’ve been married for about 9 years, and my wife, Mary Virginia Felker, would have loved to be here with you today, but we just welcomed our third baby, a little baby girl, about two weeks ago, so she’s at home caring for her. I’ve got two other boys, Toler, who turns 6 in August, and James, who turns 3 in August.
As I said, I’m so excited to be here this morning, and we’re going to be looking at a parable of Jesus. It’s a short passage, but it has massive implications for us today. We’re going to see this morning that the Kingdom of God, has massive value and importance for us, that if we are wise, we will give all that we have to get this Kingdom.
So before we read our passage, lets pray, asking God to give us such wisdom as we turn to his words..
Heavenly Father, Lord we thank you, for your kindness and your goodness to us, Lord you have called us to come and to worship you, to hear your word and respond, and so we’ve come this morning, we’ve come to hear you with humble hearts, with open hands, longing to receive whatever it is that you have for us this morning. And so, Father speak to us from your words, give us wisdom, open our eyes and our ears that we might see you clearly, in Jesus name we pray, amen.
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
“All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the field, the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever”
Introduction: I remember, it was 2009, and I had been so excited about my birthday. Most years, there is very little that I want. But this year, I had been waiting for this year. My razor flip phone had started to break, and I had been very excited to get a brand new phone, on its second edition. And so my birthday came, and I received an iphone, and I was so excited.
But that joy, that excitement, it didn’t last, and in fact, it wasn’t long before I started looking at my iPhone as lacking compared to newer models.. the joy wasn’t there..
I wonder, what is the one thing in your life, that if you were to get it, would finally bring you lasting happiness and joy? What would it be? Would it be success at work? Would it be family dynamics? Perhaps it would be an accomplishment that you’ve been attempting for some time..
There is sense where we, daydream, imagine, finally getting what we want. Often when we get what we want, the joy doesn’t last, the honeymoon ends, and we’re back to daydreaming about the next thing.
And I think many of us could relate to that, to that feeling of finally getting what we had hoped and dreamed of but finding it lacking..
Jesus is telling us, that the Kingdom of God, is the only thing that can satisfy us and because it is valued more than anything else in our lives, we must give up all to follow it. Because Jesus is of infinite value, all things must be left to follow him.
And so, we’re going to quickly look at three things this morning, 1) the treasure of the kingdom, 2)the cost of the Kingdom and 3) the Joy of the Kingdom.
- The Treasure of the Kingdom
And so first, what is the treasure in this parable? And how can the Kingdom of God be compared to a treasure?
Let’s, look again at our passage. Both of these parables are basically explaining the same thing. The first, there is a man, in a field, who discovers a hidden treasure. And we can presume that since he buys the field, that this man has simply come across this treasure by accident. He was not looking for it, he discovered it. Perhaps he worked in the field, perhaps he was simply on a journey. These details are unimportant to the fact of him finding it and buying it.
And in this world, this would be very common. Before banks, it was quite common to bury your valuable items so that they could not be stolen. This would be done as security, and we’re not told, but we can presume that the original owner of this treasure is no longer here, he has either forgotten about it or has been dead. The point is pretty straightforward, he found something of immense value, and he did all he could to attain it.
The second parable is quite similar, but instead of an accidental discovery, this time we find a merchant, who is searching for pearls of great price. This is his job, he’s looking for this pearl of great value, and upon finding it, what does he do? He sells all he has in order to gain this one pearl of great value.
And both of these parables are comparing the Kingdom of God to a treasure, of immense value. how does the Kingdom have this much value? What is so great about it?
Well, it’s obviously very different from other Kingdoms. Even now, think about the greatest counties in the world? What makes them so great? IS it their wealth? Is it their citizens? Is it how long they have lasted, their military might, their resources?
In all other Kingdoms, these are the things that we look at, but not this Kingdom. What makes this Kingdom so valuable? It’s the King. Jesus, the one of infinite worth, is what makes this Kingdom so valuable. By his very nature there is nothing worth more than him. Jesus, the alpha and omega, the beginning and end, is what brings value to this kingdom.
Years ago, the Washington Post did an experiment, They wanted to prove a point, and so they had Joshua Bell, a world famous violinist, play in a busy subway of New York city. Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.
A half-minute later, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened. Over 1,000 passed by without even noticing him. $32 were put in the bucket. One woman pulls her child along who is trying to stop and listen…his neck craning.
There was immense value in front of these people passing by, yet they didn’t have eyes to see. They had one of the greatest musicians of all time in front of them, and yet, they couldn’t see him, they didn’t recognize him..
Both of these parables are communicating a similar truth to us, they are both explaining and demonstrating one very important thing, the Kingdom of God has infinite value. It has infinite worth.. and that worth is wrapped up in the fact that Jesus is the King of the Kingdom. The treasure is King Jesus, he is what makes the Kingdom so valuable, so worthy of your purchase.
What makes this field so valuable? It isn’t that the field itself has value, no it is what the man finds in the field, it is the hidden treasure that he finds. What causes the merchant to purchase the pearl? Surely other merchants came across this pearl, but why does this merchant purchase it? They have eyes to see the value and worth of the treasure that they have found, value and worth that causes them to leave behind all they own in order to get it. Their hearts are set on this treasure, and because of that, they will do everything they can to get this treasure..
Do you have eyes to see this treasure? Or better yet, what is the treasure that your heart is set on getting? “Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, there our heart is.”
A wise Pastor once said, every treasure but Jesus will insist you die to purchase it. It’ll require you to sacrifice for it.
- Is it success? Is it being seen as successful and wealthy? If so, you’ll sacrifice everything in order to get success, in order to be seen as successful.
- Is it security? Are all of your efforts directed towards security for you and your family? Do you sacrifice being a neighbor, loving others, in order to feel secure?
- Is it your talents? If so you will do all you can to hone those talents..
- Is it your money? Your wealth?
- Is it being liked? If so you will sacrifice honesty and integrity, to save face.
Transition: Where is your treasure? This parable asks us this question, do we see the Kingdom of God, do we see the King, as a treasure? As something of value?
- The Cost of the Kingdom
But secondly, this parable asks us, do we rightly value the cost of the Kingdom of God correctly. Do we see it and place it within the hierarchy of our lives correctly. We see this in the parable by the response of both the man and the merchant. Upon finding the treasure, upon finding the pearl, what do they do? They sell all that they own, and they go and purchase it.
Now by “Cost” Jesus certainly doesn’t mean that you must pay to enter the Kingdom of God. The call to come to Jesus is without money, without price.
No, this cost refers both to the immeasurable value of Jesus compared to all other things, as well as the sacrifice of all other things in order to get Jesus. Are we willing to let go of all that we would cling to, of all that we might hold on to, to get Jesus?
To many of us, this is one of those passages of Jesus that is frightening. It’s one of those passages that we see, we read, we hear it, and we want to immediately explain away. Surely they didn’t sell everything. Surely they didn’t get rid of all things..
This is the cost of discipleship, the cost of the cross, the cost of the Kingdom. Often we think that we can have Jesus and just continue in our ways. We think that we can have Jesus and that nothing has to change in our lives. But its passages such as this that tell us, to have this King, is to have a cost, to bear a cost, to let go of all things that might hinder him…
It’s a call to pay the cost of reorganizing the priorities of our lives. The first commandment gets at this, “You shall have no other gods before me”…. That all things, are to be second to this Kingdom, and when our priorities, when our lives go unchanged, it’s a sign that we are living for idols, for other gods.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Pastor that helped resist the Nazi regime, termed this cheap grace, when we attempt to have Jesus and our lives unchanged.
It’s cheap grace that allows us to continue to live our lives unchanged, grace that allows us to avoid Jesus and his call to leave all, to sell all, to follow him, even into death..
Cheap grace, this grace that has no cost, it lets you continue on living the way you do, it doesn’t call out again your idols, it doesn’t ask you to reprioritize your life.. Cheap grace assumes that gaining Christ will not affect your life in any meaningful way, it’s simply another item to place in your heart, another treasure among many.
But costly grace, this is the grace that brings you to Jesus, and causes you to give up anything which might hinder you from having him. Do you know costly grace?
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, you can’t have your cake and eat it too, this is cheap grace. . It’s the belief that you can have the kingdom, you can have the king, with little or no change in your life…. With little to no cost..
In giving up all, in selling all, we get something far better, you get Jesus. In selling all, instead of losing all you actually gain everything because you gain Christ. Jesus tells us, whoever follows me must pick up his cross.. it’s an invitation to death, following Christ means death to the ways of the world. its costly… it hurts.. It’s going to feel like death to admit the cost.. but it’s worth it because you get Jesus…
It’s easy for us to fall into this belief of cheap grace, of thinking perhaps we can get a deal on Jesus. Perhaps we can get him, and we won’t have to change much in our lives, because Jesus thinks and acts just like me, because Jesus is just like me..
- What are the things in your life that you hide away from Jesus? That you don’t want him to know about? That you don’t want him to change? Is it your anger? Your lust? Your greed? Your ambition?
- How do we find these other priorities? How do we find these idols in our lives? These areas of cheap grace…
- Think about your time. What do you spend your time on? Is it work? Family? These aren’t bad things, but when they are in the wrong place, when we prioritize them over Jesus, when we think they will bring us lasting joy and happiness, we’ve made them idols.
- Think about your anxiety. What makes you anxious? When life is out of control, what do you turn to, to bring you life? Perhaps its relationships.. perhaps its peoples opinions of you..
- Think about your money. What do you spend it on?
And you see this, when Christianity doesn’t change how you spend your money, the mercy and generosity that you have. Or when it doesn’t change your private life, the media you consume. We have cheap grace when we think that taking on Jesus doesn’t affect every fiber of our being, every ounce of our life.. All must be given for this treasure.
Transition: But how do know that this kingdom is worth giving up for?
- The Joy of the Kingdom
And so, lastly, we come to the Joy of the Kingdom.. We find in this first parable, that the man who buys the field does it in joy.. He is joyful, he is excited about this purchase.. why? Because he knows what he is getting.. He feels assured of its value.. He’s identified the treasure, he’s assessed the cost, and he purchases it with joy.
But as we just talked about, joy when giving up everything is difficult isn’t it? Elsewhere in the gospels, Jesus tells us, that if we are “to follow him, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross, and follow him”. Jesus is calling you to death.. he’s calling you to deny the things you want in the world. So how do we do that with joy? How do we get joy as our motivation?
- For some of us, we are simply motivated thinking, perhaps if I just do enough, if I work hard enough, if I am good enough, then maybe then Jesus will take me. And so we give and sell all that we have, not because of joy, we’re motivated by pride..
- Others, we’re motivated thinking that perhaps we can make up for the things we’ve done wrong, that perhaps if we can just pay back what we did wrong.. And so we give up things not out of joy, but out of guilt..
- Others, we don’t find joy in selling all, in denying ourselves, we fear that God will punish us if we don’t.. and so not joy, but fear is our motivation..
How do we find joy as our motivation? How do we go about seeing Jesus as a priceless treasure that is worth selling all to get?
You begin to see him as a priceless treasure, you begin get that joy, when you realize that in the eyes of Jesus, you were that treasure… You were that pearl… Jesus, sold everything he had, in order to gain you. Jesus counted you worth it, to give all that he has to gain you, to take death and sin upon his shoulders, why? Because you were the pearl of great price. You were the hidden treasure of the field. And he does so gladly.. He does so with joy.. how do I know?
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that “for the joy set before him, he endured the cross..” What is that joy? What was the joy before Jesus? It was you.. your freedom from sin, your fellowship for eternity, this was the joy of Jesus. He takes on poverty for you, he takes on sin for you.. you were the treasure to him.
And as you ponder that, as you sit with that for a while, it’s that joy that moves you to joy, it’s that joy that changes your motivation from guilt, to joy, from fear and pride, to joy, because you get Jesus, who gave up all for you. It’s his joy, his love, his devotion to you, that changes your motivation.. We love because he first loved up. He cultivates that joy in us..
In the midst of denying yourself and taking up your cross, what brings you joy? You get Jesus.. he sees you, the real you, the sinful dirty you. He knows you, the worst things you’ve done, and yet he spared nothing to get you, in fact he gave his life for you.
I’ll close with this…
Mary Virginia and I, when we dated, we were both quite nervous to tell each other that we loved each other. We were so nervous, that for way to long into our relationship we would continue to say “like”. And realize this is like a year in. And I can still remember the excitement of seeing each other, and finally saying, “I love you”. But as great s that excitement is, the reality is, Mary V didn’t really know me. She had only seen my best side, she hadn’t seen me angry, she hadn’t seen my selfishness, she hadn’t seen all of the flaws that she has since seen.
And there is a real sense, that while the excitement of saying I love you isn’t quite the same, there is much more truth and joy that comes from it now, hearing it from someone that see’s and knows the real me. To hear that, despite all of my flaws, despite all of my sins, leads me to joy, leads me to sacrifice, why? Because I get her…
How do you get this joy? The foundation, the motivation, the assurance, of this treasure is found only in knowing and experiencing his love for you. And it’s his love, that brings you to Joy, that brings you the assurance that leaving all is worth it, because you get Jesus.