Do You buy lottery tickets? What about when the power ball contest reaches into the multi-million dollar range, are you tempted to go out and purchase tickets to get in on the possibility of winning? How far would you be willing to go to obtain some huge treasure in your life? I see these post on Facebook of some small cabin in the woods somewhere with the caption, “would you live in this cabin for a year for a million dollars?” When you think of such treasures, one amazing thing is that when studies are done of those who win such huge amounts of money, the results are seldom good. Most of the people within five years have lost the entire amount or declare that they are miserable and that the whole thing had been more a curse than a blessing. I wonder why that would be the case.
Perhaps Jesus’ message that we ought not to lay up treasures on this earth but to lay up our treasures in heaven where they can’t be destroyed by the parasites of this world should be kept in mind.
In Matthew 13 in the middle of several stories Jesus told about the kingdom of God there are two very short stories that tell us a whole lot about treasures and what makes them worth having. “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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for find pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Both these stories involve the kingdom of God as the great treasure in life. That kingdom is the whole realm of people who make Jesus the king of their life and live under his standard. The Bible had been promising the coming of God’s kingdom for a long time when Jesus came on the scene and took up the message of John the Baptist that the kingdom was very near. He even challenged us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness so that other things we need might be thrown in for us. But notice in our two stories that some people find the kingdom of God when they aren’t looking for it at all. Some are like the man who happened upon a treasure hidden in a field. He wasn’t out searching the field for treasures but simply, by accident, found it. Many find the kingdom of God who aren’t searching for anything and don’t even realize their need for the kingdom until they happen to find it. But others are like the man searching for fine pearls. They are searching for the kingdom, knowing that something vital is missing in their life. They may not even know about God but they know there is an emptiness in them and are longing to find something or someone who can fill that void. So, when they find the kingdom, they know what they have found and its tremendous value.
Notice in the two stories Jesus told there is a common thread. No matter how one finds the kingdom of God, if they are to possess it and become citizens of the the kingdom with Christ as king over them, it requires something from them. The man who found the treasure in the field, had to go and find out who owned the property and then sell everything he had in order to purchase the field that had the treasure. In our day the man’s actions would have seemed underhanded and taking advantage of the lack of knowledge of the owner, but in their day when people often hid treasures in fields and then died and no one knew the treasure was there, it was seen as the right thing to do to purchase the field and then own the treasure rather than simply taking it without going through the whole process. The man who was searching and found the beautiful expensive pearl, had to leave the pearl and go home to sell everything he had to be able to purchase the pearl of great value. Becoming a part of God’s kingdom demands of us that we be willing to leave our old life and ways behind us to become part of God’s kingdom. Jesus called it a new birth or being born again to enter his kingdom.
The other thing that stands out in these stories is that after they had paid the price and now owned the field and the pearl they were filled with joy. It was with joy that they went and sold what they had to purchase the field. When the thought of entering the kingdom and what is required of me to be part of it, seems like too much to pay for us, we don’t grasp at all the value of the kingdom of the Lord.
This is the one kingdom that goes right on when this world and its wealth, power and treasures are completely wiped away. In 2 Peter 1 as he described the life of a Christian in adding the graces needed to be like Jesus he said if we did that and made our calling and election sure we would have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 12 and verse 28 said we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be destroyed so we ought to serve God reverently and with awe.
Think about it. When we are willing to risk money and things to try to win a lottery that the actual chances of winning are slight, why would we be hesitant to make the sacrifice necessary to obtain the kingdom of the Lord that is of greatest value and you get the kingdom every time?