Summary: Jesus tells the parable of a man who sold everything he had to buy a field with hidden treasure in it. What is the treasure, and what does that mean for us?

(This sermon series is based on a book by Randy Alcorn entitled "The Treasure Principle)

OPEN: Several decades ago, there was something called the "Iron Curtain." It was an imaginary border between the Communist Soviet Union (and it's satellite nations) and the rest of the "Free World." It was an iron curtain in the respect that those on the Soviet side had extreme difficulty passing from their region into the Free World. Communism was a vicious and powerful force in the lives controlled by it. Back in 1955, a farmer in Romania (behind the Iron Curtain) had a problem. Communism had become so demanding that his Lanz Tractor would soon be taken away from him. What was he to do? Well, he took it apart, packed it in tar-coated cardboard, and buried it in his backyard. Thirty-five years later (in 1990), the laws changed and he dug it up and put it back together again. (Reader’s Digest 10/92, p.17)

APPLY: People have been burying their treasures for centuries. Now, granted, burying a tractor in your backyard is a bit unusual, but if something is precious to you… you do what you gotta do!

Back in Bible times, lots of people buried precious things in their backyards. Palestine was a land bridge between Egypt and the great empires of the north and the armies of those nations would often sweep through Israel - rampaging, robbing and pillaging everything in their path.

And, of course common thieves could be a problem too. And because there were no banks - people would bury their treasures in the ground, in walls, in tree trunks, or wherever they could.

Finding those buried treasures again… well… that could be difficult. There was the occasional earthquake. And sometimes the owners would have to leave home in a hurry and never come back. Or the owners might be captured by invading armies, or die suddenly for any number of reasons. As a result, family treasures could be buried and forgotten for centuries.

ILLUS: A missionary in Palestine told of workmen who were digging up a garden, and these workmen found several copper pots of gold which they stole and hid someplace else. But they just couldn’t keep their mouths shut and the governor of the city caught them. Two of the pots containing 8000 pure gold coins were recovered. That missionary said he’d seen hundreds of persons - all over the country - spending their last penny looking for buried treasure. (Pulpit Helps, 12/92 p. 8)

So (as you can imagine), many of those in Jesus’ crowd either knew of someone who’d found buried treasure, or maybe THEY had.

That (of course) brings us to our text today. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” If he buys the field now the treasure belongs to him (otherwise it would have been stealing).

A TREASURE? When you think of treasure, you think jewels, or precious stones… you think money. And what’s interesting is that Jesus talked a lot about money and possessions. According to Randy Alcorn Fifteen percent of everything Jesus said related to money and possessions. He spoke about money and possessions more than heaven and hell combined. John McArthur noted that nearly half of Jesus’ parables “16 out of 38 of Christ’s parables dealt with money.” Now… that’s a lot.

Why would Jesus put such an emphasis on money and possessions? Well, there’s a couple reasons I can think of. The first is that we need money. We need money to pay bills and supply for your family. That’s kind of obvious. But “there’s also a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how we think about and handle money.” (Randy Alcorn)

Just as an illustration, all you need to do is look back at John the Baptist’s ministry in Luke 3. The crowds came to him and they asked, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-11) John’s answer to the crowds (about what they could do to please God) was that everyone should share their food and clothing with the poor, because the spiritual thing was to use their possessions is to help people.

Then the Tax collectors came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” (Luke 3:12-13) In other words: Don’t take money that doesn’t belong to you even if you can get away with it. The spiritual thing in business is not to cheat folks.

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