Summary: Just how valuable is Jesus to you? Is He more of a common rock you use to skip across the water or buried treasure so valuable he is worth everything you own and more?
Most American kids love pirates. I was also among them—I’m not sure if it was the adventure of the open seas, the outfits, or those great accents that did it for me. Of course, the reality of pirates is something quite different than the romanticized “Pirates of the Caribbean” version. But there was something else about pirates that attracted me—buried treasure. As a young boy my family used to travel to my godmother’s house on Lake Tahoe. As part of the summer ritual we would have a treasure hunt. We’d find clues that would lead from one to another until finally we dug up the treasure chest. Inside were wonderful finds like plastic airplanes and Superballs. These might have seemed like cheap junk to some, they were treasures to me. If only there were such treasures in real life—and yet there are. As it turns out, the gospel of Jesus Christ is a treasure so valuable it would be worth anything to dig it up, and that’s just what Jesus teaches us about in the latter part of chapter 13. But as we’ll see, one man’s treasure is another man’s junk!
Matthew chapter 13 contains five parables—all showing us the affect of the gospel on planet earth. We’ve seen the parable of the sower, which describes the different soil conditions of hearts that hear the good news. We saw the parable of the weeds, which shows that evil will coexist with good (those who are made good by knowing Jesus) until the end of the age, and that redeemed people and those that reject Jesus may look indistinguishable to us, but at the end of the age the angels will be able to separate them out, with those who reject Jesus being rejected themselves.
So now the final three parables—one is very much like the parable of the weeds, but the first two talk about the value of the gospel message—and show the character of a person who hears it with a “good soil” heart.
What we are seeing here is how the gospel spreads, the attitude of those who are exposed to it, and the result of that exposure. It starts small, like a grain of mustard seed, but grows big—its growth is invisible, like yeast through dough, but its spread is ubiquitous.
So now Jesus asks the question—of what value is the gospel and He Himself to you? If you are a pre-Christian you may have never thought much about it. “Jesus was just a good guy who lived a long time ago I use his name sometimes when I hit my thumb with a hammer.” But even as a believer, when was the last time you really thought about the value of our Rescuer, our Messiah, Jesus?
The man in this parable would be a day laborer, who earned a denarius for his day’s work. He comes across buried treasure but had he taken it up from the ground, Roman law would have allowed the owner of the field to claim that treasure. So he leaves his job, sells everything he has, buys the field, and thus owns the treasure.
Jesus isn’t teaching us how to swindle people—this story is about the gospel, not buried treasure. Sometimes people just stumble across the gospel. They flip the radio dial and happen on a teaching program or over hear a conversation between two Christians or pick up a Bible in their hotel room. Once it begins to resonate with them they realize the value of what they have heard: that they have evil in them, will be held accountable for that evil, and that there is but one way to effectively deal with the evil, and that is through the sacrifice for them by Jesus Christ. That person will do anything, give away anything, leave anything behind in order to have that valuable thing—fulfilling a need they never knew they had.
The parable of the pearl is very similar:
The merchant in this story is looking for good pearls to sell. When he finds one that is so fine that it could set him up for life, he gambles on it by selling everything to buy that one pearl. Some people have that innate sense of need in their lives—that “God-shaped hole” goes deep and they long for the sense of peace that only comes with knowing God.
When someone like that comes across the gospel they too are willing to lay aside everything—put their full weight down on the message of Jesus, knowing they have found what they have always been looking for.
47 – 50
The net here would either be dragged between two boats or between a boat and the shore. It would have cork bobs to keep the top at the surface and small weights to keep the bottom at the bottom. The fishermen would drag it across the sea and get all kinds of fish in it. They would then separate the fish they could sell from the others. Fishermen wouldn’t throw the “bad” fish into a furnace, but like the parable of the weeds, Jesus is making a spiritual point.