TREASURE IN A FIELD
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field – and to get the treasure, too! NLT
Last week, while I was attending the Michigan Full Gospel Baptist State Conference, I ran into my old friend Elder Joyce Jones – who used to serve with me on the Elders’ Council, when I was at Second Unity.
We hadn’t seen each other in a few years, and she caught me by surprise when she said she’d recently been listening to a message that I preached back in 1993 – the first sermon I ever preached at Second Unity, and one that I remember as being before she ever actually came to the church. Anyhow, it jarred my memory that I’d preached one of my favorite sermons that morning – and today I commend its primary thoughts to you.
Matthew 13:44-52 interrupts a series of parables that Jesus was speaking to a crowd of people standing on the shore. After giving them four powerful illustrations about the Kingdom of God, He dismisses them and goes inside the house with His disciples, and there engages their attention not in another parable, but rather in a completely different series of thoughts about the nature of the Kingdom of God.
You will notice that Jesus’ teaches the crowds by using parables; but some would argue that the verses here mentioned are not parables. Origen – the great Doctor of the early African Church – says that here Jesus uses similitude, a broader and more general kind of device. He says that, “The similitude seems to be generic, and the parable specific,” meaning that Jesus didn’t need to go to the same length to get His disciples to see the picture He was trying to portray here, as He did with the crowd,
“Because it [was] given to [the disciples] to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it [was] not given.” Matthew 13:11-13
And when all was said and done they’d understand fully what He meant when He said,
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure!”
There was a message there for them that the world was not yet ready to receive. I want to challenge you these next few weeks to get ready, because God has got some things to tell you that the crowds may not be able to grasp; but YOU …
You will “get it,” the moment you put on your spiritual thought processes. It might take the people a little while to comprehend the awesome value of the Kingdom – because they have been accustomed to looking for value in things, and in stuff, and in being able to look at what they’ve accumulated over the course of a lifetime.
You, on the other hand, have learned that things can be taken away from you, and stuff deteriorates over time. You remember Jesus counsel, just a few short chapters before this one, that when we seek first the Kingdom of God, God has a way of adding the things. (Mt. 6:33)
And so you can relate to this man who found this hidden treasure and was so overjoyed by it that he went and sold everything he had to buy the field.
Now time and space won’t permit me to give you the whole lesson, here. I just want to leave you with a few principles, from this text:
JOHNSTONIAN PRINCIPLE #101
I DON’T KNOW HOW THE MAN KNEW THERE WAS TREASURE IN THE FIELD – BUT WHEN THE MAN CAME TO THE FIELD HE CAME LOOKING FOR SOMETHING …
And he dug, and dug, and dug, and dug, until he found it!
JOHNSTONIAN PRINCIPLE #101A
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU COME LOOKING FOR, ‘CAUSE YOU JUST MIGHT FIND IT!
Everybody remembers the story of the “49ers” – people who rushed out to California, during the Great Gold Rush of 1849. Some people actually got rich, during that gold rush; but it was mainly because they knew how to recognize pure gold, when they saw it.
But there was another substance that messed up a whole lotta folk. It is called “pyrite” – or Fool’s Gold. Pyrite is iron sulfide, a very shiny substance that looks just like gold. And I submit to you that there’s a lotta “Fool’s Gold Christians,” running around in our churches. (That’s gonna take some time to preach it. Better make sure you don’t miss church, this Sunday!)
JOHNSTONIAN PRINCIPLE #102
THE MAN WHO OWNED THE FIELD DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HE HAD.
Otherwise, he wouldn’t have sold it so cheap.
John Gill suggested that it may not have actually been a portable treasure – like one would find in a chest – but rather it may have been a mine; and when this man discovered it he kept it secret until he could get the money to buy the land surrounding the mine. Whatever the truth may be, we are reminded here that some of us sell our Christianity for a little bit of nothing.
We see the evidence in the church every day. We have compromised the Gospel, and allowed a secular and compromising theology to pervade our thinking – and be preached from our pulpits. (That’s gonna take a minute to preach it! I would start getting dressed NOW, so I could be in church on time!)
JOHNSTONIAN PRINCIPLE #103
WHEN THIS MAN FOUND THIS TREASURE HE SOLD EVERYTHING HE HAD TO GET IT.
Jesus is asking us today to SELL OUT! There’s something He wants to give us, but the only way we can take possession of it is to sell out. It may seem like a sacrifice, at first, to give up the stuff that gave us security; but what He has for you is so precious, till you need to just do whatever it takes to get it!