Summary: The value of finding the kingdom of God when looking for it and finding it when not looking for it.
Around the late 1970’s and early 1980’s there was a craze for metal detectors. Everywhere you looked there were people searching the fields and around ancient monuments scouring around trying to find something of value. They were treasure hunters. Treasure hunting has always been a popular activity as people have sort to enrich themselves. However, most of the great finds have not been made by people who were hunting for them, but people who just stumbled upon them.
These two parables that we have just read talk about people finding something of value, one of them just stumbles upon it, the other sets out looking for it. Both finds are likened to the finding of the kingdom of God through the gospel of Christ.
Let’s look at them more closely.
Stumbled upon treasure
The first parable concerns a man who was just going about his daily business, working in a field. It does not appear that he was particularly looking for anything important, just happened to find it there. My mother has got a trick of, when she has lost something, of finding something else that she has lost the week before while engaged in the search. I do the same thing. I am careless with a book, start a search for it, do not find the book that I am looking for, but find the one that I had lost the previous week. But not even this was the case in this parable; the man was just doing his ordinary work in the field when he found it unexpectedly.
Some, perhaps the majority, of the people in our world today spend all their time going about their daily business, content with what this world has to offer. Living their lives without ever a thought to eternal matters, separated from the kingdom of God, and not caring., not knowing what they are missing. This parable shows us that the gospel can suddenly reach such people. For example they might get chatting to a Christian in the Post Office queue, see our display when walking around the market or just pop into the hall for a cup of tea. So we should not just confine our evangelism to people that are seeking, but also look for people who are not seeking. God has a way of breaking into our lives when we least expect it.
Every year we hear of people who were just living their lives as normal when suddenly they came face to face with Jesus and his gospel of forgiveness, restoration, eternal life and satisfaction. This may have happened to some of us.
Maybe we have come here this afternoon not really expecting to find anything, just coming to meet with friends. Well, you can still come across the gospel and come into the wonderful kingdom of God.
Sought after treasure
In contrast, the second parable is about a merchant who spent his life searching for beautiful pearls. He did not just wait for the pearls to come to him; he went out and looked for them. I can imagine him going from dealer to dealer, just looking for that one beautiful pearl. Each dealer claiming that his pearls were the best, the most beautiful, the biggest, the most perfect, perhaps rubbishing the wares of the other dealers. He must have spent many hours and days looking in the wrong places for this one pearl to surpass all others. Many times he would have visited a dealer on hearing a rumour or an advert, hoping to find that special pearl, and end up going away disappointed. It is quite likely that he did not know exactly what that pearl would be like, but he knew when he found it.
We thought earlier of how large numbers of people in our society are not searching for anything spiritual or eternal. But there are many others who are. Who are longing to find the kingdom of God, even if they do not really know who or what it is they are looking for, they are still searching. They go from place to place, from idea to idea, meditation, New Age practices and teaching, other religions, drugs, alcohol or relationships with other people looking for the satisfaction and fulfilment that somehow always seems to elude them. They do not know what it is they are searching, but they will know when they have found it.
Some of us may be in that position; perhaps that is why we have come here this afternoon, because we are searching for a different dimension to life. We might be going to many different places, trying different experiences, not really knowing what we are looking for, but wanting something of a better quality than we already have.
The pearl was expensive; it was worth a lot of money. The dealer must have been extremely pleased to have sold it to the merchant. Treasure by definition is valuable and costly. Both the man who found the treasure and the pearl merchant had to sell everything they had to get enough money.