Mt.13:44-46 “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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
The parabolic statements recorded in Matthew 13:44-46 speak of value. The value in question is that of “the kingdom of heaven,” or “kingdom of God” (as the terms are used synonymously in the synoptic Gospels). The kingdom of God has reference to that which operates under the authority of God, recognizing and honoring His design for life and employing the truth and principles consistent with such design. This is not simply a reference to a place we go once we die, nor is it to be clouded by eschatological curiosities. His kingdom is to be in operation on earth, and it is the task of all within the kingdom to expand its presence (the point of vss.31-32 and a topic for another article).
The word “treasure” refers to value as emphasized in verse 46 when speaking of the pearl.
The idea that the treasure is hidden indicates that it is not recognized. We can safely conclude that the reason it is not recognized is, “…the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes…” (verse 15). This is a statement about the vast majority of the Jews of His day. We can easily apply this truth to our contemporary culture as well. People are so busy focusing on a variety of other things they deem important that they do not see the value of God and His kingdom. Some people have it as one component among many within their value structure but fail to see its true, preeminent value.
When a person realizes the actual value of God and His kingdom, everything else is viewed as subordinate and expendable. The value spoken of is, therefore, ultimate, supreme or greatest value. This corresponds with an emphasis present in much of the teaching of Jesus as seen in the following:
Mt.6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Mt.6:33 “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Mt.22:37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
All of this has reference to the Biblical concept of the heart. Jesus taught, “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt.6:21). That which we assign (view as having) ultimate value sets that stage for the value system we establish and the approach we take toward life. Many religious people have God’s kingdom and His righteousness as components to his or her life while making one of the “add-ons” their supreme goal.
The challenge in wise ministry is to help people see the value of God and His kingdom, leading to the establishment of “an honest and good heart,” (Lk.8:15) before we simply begin dumping bags of seed on those who are yet fallow ground; a fruitless endeavor. Breaking up fallow ground and helping people recognize the ultimate value of God and His kingdom is challenging but very important ministry. It can mean the difference between producing fruit or failing to do so. We cannot make another person have this view of God’s value, we can only lead them to recognize it by using appropriate truth to draw their attention away from that which possesses the position of supremacy, turning their attention to the greatness, goodness, glory, majesty and supremacy of God.
I close with a statement made by Jesus, which speaks of the importance of this concept and the difficulty involved in producing such a resolve.
“No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk.9:62). If other aspects of life still compete for the top position in one’s value system, if we have not resolved that His kingdom is of greatest value, we are not ready to be cooperative, contributing members of this kingdom.