The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. [Matthew 13:44-46]
The topic Jesus talks about the most is the kingdom of heaven; how important must it be then, if Jesus Himself believes it worthy of His attention. The first half of this passage is often referred to as the parable of the hidden treasure, and the second the parable of the pearl of great value. Since they come as a pair, perhaps they aren’t talking about the same thing after all.
The parable of the hidden treasure can be viewed as God seeking us—God is the man who found the treasure, which is us. We are the treasure hidden in the field, hidden beneath all the darkness of this world, even our own darkness; but God sees us as being redeemed and perfected (Philippians 3:21) – He sees us as our best, made righteous through Him. It is always God who finds us, not the other way around. By His grace does He choose to save any of us. The focus of the verse, for me, is the word “joy;” it was God’s joy that He nailed His son to the cross, buying us from the dead (Hebrews 12:1-2). He valued us so much that He sold all that He had, including His only son. The kingdom of heaven is not just God, but us and God together. The second parable thus completes the relationship that we now have with God after He finds us, in showing how we must approach our end of the relationship with Him.
The parable of the pearl of great value can be viewed as us as the merchant seeking fine pearls. There are so many “pearls” in this world—the pearl of success, the pearl of fame, the pearl of wealth, the pearl of marriage, the pearl of material things, etc. Many things in our society are covered with this shiny exterior of a pearl, but that does not mean it is the real thing. Life is too short to waste on these inferior pearls. We must be certain on our criteria for value, and not settle for anything less, or settle for any of the “pearls” or “treasures” the world tells us we should love.
When we find that pearl of great value, Jesus, we sell all that we have, including what was originally our first, second, and third priorities, because all of those pale in comparison. However, all of this would not be possible without the initial act of searching; we must constantly be in pursuit of the best and most valuable thing in life; this is an active journey, not a passive one. The more I read this parable, the more it didn’t seem like Jesus was the merchant, as how can there only be one pearl that He values above all, if He wants to save us all?
There’s treasure in all of us—do we see others as being redeemable? Do we see it enough in people to keep going and not lose faith in them? The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ […] “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” [Matthew 25: 40, 45). When we see Christ in other people, it no longer is difficult or a chore to treat them well and love them.
Whatever it takes, God show me Your ways. I’m willing to waste what this world has to offer. For infinite grace, God, You bore my shame. Won’t make the mistake of living like I’m my own. [“Something New” – Reveal]
This world has nothing for me. I will follow You. [“Rescue” – Desperation Band]