Summary: We examine the two paralell parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price. These are two parables that Jesus uses to describe what God’s kingdom is like.
The Parables of Jesus
The Value of the Kingdom
June 7, 2009
Here in a brief three verses Jesus gives us two parables. Although they are not identical both teach us about God’s kingdom in similar fashion. They are intended to teach us the value of God’s kingdom. These parables immediately follow the parable of the wheat and the tares, which explained why God’s kingdom was present even as evil was not completely overcome.
Listen to the words of Jesus:
"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 fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
The kingdom is like a hidden treasure and the kingdom is like a fine pearl. The response of the person that suddenly finds this treasure of a kingdom: he or she does whatever it takes in order to obtain it.
Note first of all that the treasure is not eternal life nor is it Jesus. The treasure is the kingdom. Jesus doesn’t say eternal life is like or that the Son of Man is like… Jesus emphasizes throughout these parables and especially here that the kingdom is like a treasure that has been hidden in a field but suddenly uncovered. The kingdom is like a pearl seen in the market place by a merchant. This merchant has been looking for pearls all his life and suddenly finds the pearl that he has searched for throughout his entire life.
The Treasure and The Pearl
Although the settings and the details of the two parables are slightly different, there are a couple of common ideas that can be gleaned from both of these parables.
• The kingdom has immense value
• The cost of discipleship is enormous
These are the two main ideas of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is like nothing else we will ever encounter. There is no one like our God. It is of such great value that it is worth the sacrifice of anything and everything.
So this man inadvertently found a treasure on someone else’s land. Perhaps this man was a tenant farmer. He farmed the land for someone else. He was plowing the field and the rains came and there was this earthen clay pot containing a huge treasure of gold or jewels or such. That happens still today. We’ve all probably heard of dead sea scrolls found in a cave, which is another place to put your treasure. I recently read about some gold tablets that were unearthed that contained some ancient code.
My grandfather owned some land near Mad River in Ohio. It was near the sight of a big battle between Native American chief Tecumseh “Blue Jacket” and George Rogers Clark. Every year his neighbor would plow up his field to plant corn and after the rain would find four or five arrow heads that would emerge from the ground. The Indians used to camp all through out the area. People still find buried treasure in the Middle East.
So maybe this guy was a tenant farmer. What he was doing there is really not that important. That is the thing with parables. They don’t need to have all the details worked. They may depict a realistic situation but it doesn’t that it is an actual situation. For Jesus it is simple: the man was there.
In the Jesus’ culture, whatever you find on your land is yours. He found this treasure but he couldn’t just take it because people would ask questions and he would have tell them where he found it, which was not on a piece of land that he owned. It was quite common for people to bury there treasures since they had no federally insured banks. So like a pirate, you would count off paces from some marker and bury your treasure. And just like today, the owner of the land owned everything in and on the land.
I saw on CNN last year, where a contractor was hired to remodel a house. When he tore into a wall, he found a bunch of cash, several hundred thousand dollars, that a previous owner had put there and had since died. The contractor tried to claim that since he found the money, it was his. But he had no claim of ownership since he didn’t really own the house. He was just employed to do some work.
So this guy in the parable scraped together everything he owned to buy this land knowing that the reward was much, much greater than all that he had combined. After he bought the land, this man owned the treasure. Obviously, the treasure wasn’t the current owner’s otherwise he would have known about it. It probably belonged to someone who had long since died.