In Matt 13:44-46, Jesus uses another pair of parables to illustrate yet another aspect of the kingdom. One might suppose that it is for added emphasis that two parables are used instead of one. However, in examining the elements in each of the parables, it makes for a rather interesting observation.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44–46
Note the contrasts. We have a man who labours in a field and another who trades in the marketplace. One is a common, average worker and the other is a well-travelled merchant or businessman. The treasure that was found was buried and hidden while the pearl was possibly openly displayed on a shelf or table. For the man in the field, it was something he stumbled upon. Yet, for the merchant, it was the result of a conscious, deliberate search. In terms of gender association, the discovery of treasure at work would most likely resonate with the men just as the pearl of great price would have caught the attention of the women in the audience. Yet, regardless the contrasts, both items were deemed to be of great value. And more critically, each yielded the same response by the one who discovered it – they were willing have it at all cost!
There is a very beautiful truth that Jesus is making here. Simply, the kingdom of God is available to everyone, regardless status or position in life, man or woman, rich or poor, chanced upon or sought after, seemingly hidden or openly displayed. It is for one and all! And to everyone who discovers the kingdom, it is of great and infinite value, one that is not defined by nor subject to personal preference, taste, market forces or trend. Everyone should be willing to give up everything for the sake of the kingdom of God! Yes, the response should be the same across the board. But is it?
Jesus uses the picture of the treasure and a pearl of great price. To begin with, can we even put a price tag on the kingdom of God? We can save up for eternity and it still will not be enough. We can be on our best behaviour and still not qualify for the kingdom. We could try to bribe our way into the kingdom and that wouldn’t work. It is only by faith in Jesus Christ that we are born again and transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God, redeemed with His precious blood, no less! It might have come free to us, but it cost the Son of God dearly. The kingdom of God is not just of great value; it is priceless!
But do we value the kingdom as readily as we shout, “Amen!” Do we value the work and sacrifice of Jesus upon the Cross? Do we value the power and authority of the kingdom in and through the name of Jesus? Do we value the rule and reign of the King? Do we value the freedom in the kingdom by His Spirit? Do we value the certainty, stability and absolute rule of the kingdom? Do we value the eternity of the kingdom over the temporal offerings of this life?
If the answer is “yes” then we are now ready to consider the worth of the kingdom. Is the kingdom worth it? Is it worth my full and undivided devotion and allegiance to the King? Is it worth the priorities that must be shifted, the sacrifices that must be made, the inconveniences that must be experienced? It is worth my time, effort, resources and money? Is it worth the trials we go through, the scorn and ridicule we might receive, the rejection we might face, the persecutions we must endure? Is the kingdom worth living for? Dying for? Is it worth the risk of losing friends and family members or the risk of job loss for righteousness’ sake?
Two simple parables that communicate a powerful truth about the kingdom. And yet, the appropriation and the living out of that truth is anything but simple. It will challenge the very core of our being and what we truly believe. The apostles and the disciples had to reckon with it, as did the early church fathers. Many demonstrated with their lives what they declared with their lips. To them, the kingdom is truly of great value and most certainly worth the giving up of everything.