As I was reading the gospels, I was again struck again by the way that the Lord Jesus Christ used everyday situations to teach spiritual and eternal meanings. It has also heightened my awareness of how many of the parables of the Lord Jesus Christ have eternal validity for His day and ours. Therefore, for a number of weeks I will look to such parables.
Today I will continue with two small parables that are not very well known. Because some of my readers may not recall them instantly, or may not be aware of them, I will reproduce them here from Matthew 13:44-46.
The Kingdom of Heaven (God) is like a treasure in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought the field.
Again, the Kingdom of Heaven (God) is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
During the ministry of Jesus, He used different approaches for his ministries – stories, parables, discourses. Sometimes for the sake of emphasis and clarity the theme of the parable are the same, but the main characters are different. That happens in these two parables.
The Kingdom of God is prevalent on the pages of the New Testament to the extent that some people believe that this was the main theme of the Lord’s ministry. When Jesus starts his ministry, the gospel writers tell us that He came preaching that the Kingdom of God (or in some places the Kingdom of Heaven) is at hand. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray by saying, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Another time when he talks about his soon coming kingdom, the mother of Jesus’ disciples John and James asks the Lord to make sure that in His new kingdom one of her boys will be seated at His right hand and another on His left.
There is a close parallel between the first commandment in the Old Testament and the calling that Jesus presents about his Kingdom. In the idolatrous land of Canaan, the oddity of the Israelites was that they were monotheists – they worshipped only one God. This God, Jehovah, gave them instructions that they should have no other gods before Him. He was the only God. Jesus comes and He calls unto himself disciples who He asks to leave everything and follow Him.
These two parables illustrate how important the Kingdom of Heaven is to believers. If a person understands what has happened in the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and how the world-view has changed, then he should be willing to leave everything, and exchange everything for the sake of the Kingdom. This reality challenges those in every profession – farmer and merchant alike.
When Jesus instructs us to leave everything, he really means everything. I have encountered people who were so close to the Kingdom of God, but lacked one thing. A good number of years ago, a young man started to bring his family to this church and he was very excited about what he could do here and how his family will flourish here. Then one day one of his close relatives found out that he was going to a Baptist Church and he stopped coming. I see him from time to time in the community and we talk, but he is not going to any church. The Kingdom of God looked so close, but he was not able to leave everything, including this advice of the important member of the family, to follow Christ and be blessed.
I knew a young man who came to work for our missionary society after he finished college. The call of God was so evident in his life. He could envision himself working on the mission field. Then he became engaged. His future in-laws redirected his life and he went to school so that he would take over her father’s business.
These parables – the treasure and the pearl—are so strange in our world. We rarely deal with absolutes, with commitment that supersedes everything that we have. Yet Christ has not changed in the ways he calls people to himself – He calls them to see Him as the Savior and the Lord of their lives and he calls us to see His Kingdom as the ultimate treasure and pearl of our lives.