Summary: True treasure is found only in Christ.
Not Holding Back
Rev. Brian Bill
[Demonstrate use of metal detector]
Because people have always been fascinated with the idea of finding hidden treasure, NBC has produced a reality-based TV show called “Treasure Hunters.” While I’ve not seen the show, here’s the promo: “In this fast-paced adventure reality series, multi-player teams try to stay one step ahead of each other as they are mentally and physically challenged in their quest of a promised hidden treasure. The teams must avoid elimination as they travel to historically significant locations where they must decipher cryptic codes and puzzles, each with a clue leading them closer to solving the ultimate puzzle, and obtaining the coveted grand prize.” This grand prize was 3 million dollars in 2006.
And a little closer to home, the “Treasure Hunters Roadshow,” based in St. Helens, Illinois, has grown from four teams to twenty that travel all over the United States and is now getting ready to expand into Europe.
This past weekend, treasure hunters looking for pirate gold off the coast of Cape Cod found a lost treasure belonging to the late John Kennedy, Jr. Treasure hunter Barry Clifford was diving in an area he and Kennedy once dove in and that’s when he discovered the compass with JFK’s initials on it. Clifford has uncovered millions of dollars worth of treasure from the sunken ship since 1982: “We’ve brought up over 100,000 artifacts from the ship already...with coins and jewelry.” Clifford and his dive team were back out at the site Monday, hoping they might find more treasures (www.whdh.com).
This morning we’re going to go on a treasure hunt. We’re given some clues how to find this fortune by Jesus Christ Himself. Comparing coins and precious pearls to the kingdom of heaven, we’re going to discover that if we truly crave the coveted grand prize, then we can’t hold anything back.
Last week we learned in Mark 4:26-29 that when the seed of the Word of God takes root, there will be fruit. We can sow but we can’t make the seed grow and growth is slow but it will eventually show. As we continue in our summer sermon series called, “Practical Parables,” this week we’re back in Matthew 13 where we’ll look at two very short and simple stories. We’ll take them together because their themes are so similar: True treasure is found only in the kingdom of Christ.
Once again Jesus is talking about the kingdom of heaven, which was one of his favorite teaching topics. He began his ministry proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matthew 4:17) and sent his disciples out in Matthew 10:7 to proclaim the same message. I don’t want to take a lot of time on this but the kingdom of heaven essentially refers to the reign of God in a human heart. In a real sense, the kingdom of heaven was inaugurated on the Day of Pentecost and also has a future element to it that will consummate with the second coming of Christ.
As we begin I want to acknowledge that I’m using some of John MacArthur’s sermon called, “Entering the Kingdom” as background source material (www.gty.org). We’ll start by explaining the parables and then we’ll apply them. The outline is simple – we’ll begin with the parables and end with some principles.
Turn your attention to Matthew 13:44: “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.” While most of us don’t bury our treasures in fields, it was very common to do so at that time. They didn’t have banks for ordinary people and they didn’t have mattresses to hide their money under so many made their deposits in the dirt. We see this in Matthew 25:14-18 where we read of three servants who were entrusted with money. The first two guys invested theirs and made some interest while the third guy just wanted the shekels to be safe so he “dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”
The word “treasure” in this first parable is the Greek word “thesauros,” which refers to a treasury of words. In the original the word referred to a treasure chest or storehouse where a great treasure was kept. It’s the same word used in Hebrews 11:26 to describe Moses’ turning of his back on the “treasures of Egypt” in order to follow God. In other words, this not just a coin found in the dirt (or on the carpet) but a huge treasure chest. Over time, either because this person died or was forced from his land by war, this buried treasure was unclaimed. In this story that Jesus told, a man was out in one of these fields when he inadvertently came across this cache of cash. Not wanting anyone to see what he found, he reburied it and was so ecstatic that he went and liquidated all of his possessions and purchased the field.