Soul Seeds: Worthy of All Sacrifice
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for 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 beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all the he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
A few verses before this, Jesus showed clearly He had a purpose in using parables for teaching. It was not enough to say simply He was fulfilling prophecy, but the prophecy itself gave meaning to His method (verses 35-35). The prophet (Asaph; Psalm 78) was speaking of a people who had worked hard to avoid hearing the voice of God, and did all they could to keep from obeying Him. This being their choice, when something very good came from God — His own natural Son — they would not even realize it. But to those who were willing to listen, because they had already built up a concern for what God thought about things, parables would be a marvelous means of revelation.
Those who see in Jesus’ response to His disciples a bit of impatience are probably right (Matthew 15:16ff). In a short time, the whole of the gospel would be committed into their hands. If they couldn’t comprehend the basic issues of the gospel message, what did that bode for the future? Sometimes He explained what the stories meant, making clear in the process it wasn’t as cryptic as they seemed to think. It was simply a matter of getting used to the imagery already used in the Old Testament, but apparently forgotten since those days. His impatience arose from their failure to make the break from the false teachings of their day.
Then, to test whether they were beginning to grasp the concept, He hit them with two more parables, which were actually one basic idea: What should it be worth a man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
We don’t know what the first man was doing in the field, nor does it matter. He was going about whatever business he had, and stumbled upon this something valuable. Indeed, it was so valuable to him he hid it carefully, went off to dispose of all his property, and bought the field as quickly as he could. Obviously, whatever he had found was worth more than what the man already owned. Don’t get hung up on the man’s effort to hide what he found. That’s just part of the story, so it would make sense. The point is, the man found it by accident. He was willing to lose all he had to get possession of what he found.
The second man was not simply bumbling along; he was a seeker. He was already in the business of treasures, specializing in pearls. He always had his eye open for that one magnificent pearl. Eventually, he found it. Just as the man in the other story, he disposed of all he owned to be sure he could get that one special pearl. Never mind why he wanted it; just note he had consciously been seeking it. Again, the man was willing to set aside all he had to take possession of it.
We all come to Christ differently. We could survey all the factors we could think of, and build nice categories for analysis, and maybe even have an interesting discussion about the various ways people come to Christ. Here, Jesus divides them into two extremes: those who are not seeking, and those who are. Some go through life with hardly a care in the world, just doing whatever seems to make sense at the moment. Others are driven, living with a purpose, pursuing a concrete plan. Together they represent every kind of person between their extremes. Both of these folks came up against the moment when Truth stands before them, plain as day.
So it is with each of us. Whether we know to seek an answer to life or are content simply to live it, we have that moment when God touches our world. If we know what that touch is, we know we have found all we could ever desire. That’s not the same as all the stuff sinners wish for, and perhaps get, but what we truly need. Perhaps simply realizing finally what we are and what we need is at least half the blessing. It’s so precious, no one bothers to put a price on it, or say what it might be worth. Neither did Jesus in telling His little stories.
What mattered was the punch line of both: They had to surrender everything they had. Don’t fail to notice they did it with joy. They were delighted at such a good bargain; they could hardly care what they were giving up. Jesus intentionally leaves out whether each man was rich or poor. We know only how they had to dispose of everything. So it is with the Kingdom. You want in? Shed everything you have, everything you are, all you ever hoped, etc. Give it up, because you can’t keep any of it. Indeed, there shouldn’t be any conflict at all. This is your one opportunity to have it all; what a marvelous prospect!
Anyone who longs for a return to what they had before they met Christ doesn’t understand what they’ve been given. We could allege they never even got Him at all. Nothing else in all our existence holds a candle to the bright sun of the Son, and the light of His Truth shining into and out of our souls.