Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

THE PARABLES OF THE HIDDEN TREASURE AND THE PEARL.

                                    MATTHEW  13:44-46.

           

            Have you ever dreamed about discovering some hidden treasure? I used to enjoy reading stories about pirates sailing to islands to look for buried treasures-books like Treasure Island. pastorh2Even today people are fascinated by stories of sunken ships that were supposed to have carried cargoes of silver-gold-jewellery. When I was a young boy I once found a shilling-in the late 1940’s a shilling could buy you a lot of lollies-and that is what I spent it on. And I hid them so my sister wouldn’t find them. I was going to eat them all myself. And I think I did.

            Other people looked for treasure on Land. Gold was discovered in Australia in the early 1850’s. People rushed to the gold fields-hence the expression “Gold Rush”. People came for over seas-America-Europe-England, even China. Sailors deserted their ships-farmers left their farms, leaving their wives behind to manage while they went off to make their fortune. Shop assistants-tradesmen-clerks­ left to try their luck in the goldfields. They gave up just about everything they had to search for gold. For prospectors- gold was the only thing mattered-counted.

            Read parables. Jesus told these two parables to teach us about the importance of the Kingdom of God.

  1. In the 1st parable Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a man finding a valuable treasure buried in a field. We aren’t told how he found it or what he was doing when he found it. But somehow, quite unexpectedly he comes across a treasure he wasn’t even looking for. Now that might sound a bit odd to us. Why would you bury your treasure in the ground?

But that was not unusual for those times. Remember there were no banks-safety deposit boxes. In unsettle times people would often put their valuables in a jar-box- wrap it in cloth and bury it in the ground. If the owner died or was killed no one else might know about it and it would just lie there until someone found it.

            You can imagine the surprise-excitement for the man who had discovered the buried treasure. After he gets over his initial surprise, he reburies the treasure. He has no rights to the treasure as it is on someone else’s land. So he quickly rushes off and sells everything he has to get the money so he can buy the land.

He considered the treasure was so important that it was worth sacrificing everything else he had. He gave up everything else to obtain the treasure.

            What does this mean? Jesus is telling us that the Kingdom of Heaven is such a treasure.  It is worth more than anything else in the world. Later Jesus tells the story of a Rich young man who wanted to follow Him. Jesus tells him to sell everything and follow him. But the young man could not make that sacrifice. The Kingdom was not important enough for him. It was not his priority.

            In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says,”seek first the Kingdom”. He says, “Lay up treasures in heaven”. In other words he was saying, “work out your priorities-focus on what is really important.

            In what way is the Kingdom a treasure? The kingdom is a total package. It includes everything we could possibly need for this life and the life to come. It includes-God’s love-grace-forgiveness-acceptance-the Holy Spirit-guidance-eternal life. That is why it is such a great treasure. That is why it is so valuable-important.

            Some questions we need to consider.

+Do we in fact regard the Kingdom as a valuable treasure?

+Do we appreciate being in the Kingdom?

+What  value do we place on our faith?

Is it a priority for us?  Would you have acted like that man who found the buried treasure?  The point is this: if we are prepared to sacrifice all that we have to gain an earthly treasure, what should we be prepared to do for the Kingdom?  

            The second parable is about a merchant who after years of searching finds the perfect pearl. You get the impression that he had been searching for such a pearl for the whole of his life- that is was a life long ambition to find such a pearl.

Pearls were highly valued in the ancient world-sometimes more so than gold. They were found in the Red sea-Persian gulf-Indian ocean.

Now the merchant’s dreams had come true. He had hit the jackpot. He found a pearl of extraordinary perfection-beauty. He had found the pearl of his dreams. Now this was not the only pearl in the world. There were many others. But this pearl was unlike any other he had seen. It was one of unsurpassing beauty-value. None cold compare with this special pearl.

The implication is that there may be many other attractions in the world-many other desirable things-other alternatives. But they are not a patch in comparison with the Kingdom. The Kingdom of heaven surpasses them all. By comparison they are of little value.

The pearl is an object of great beauty. There is also beauty in the Kingdom that we seldom think about. Beauty has its source in God-it comes from him and ultimately points back to him.

But I am not just talking about “physical beauty”-“good looks”-“outward appearance”.  I am talking about the beauty of “character”-“truth”-“love”, a beauty that comes from a vital/living relationship with God. This kind of beauty shows itself in such things as “serenity”- a person who is at peace with themselves and others because they are at peace with God. It is what we might call a “Christ –like beauty”. It is what we sing about in the hymn, “Beautiful Saviour”. It is an inner beauty that shows itself in our outer character. And this “inner beauty” is more valuable than outward appearance.

            These 2 parables have some common features.

  1. There is the idea of finding something of tremendous value.
  2. There is the thought of selling things of lesser value to obtain the object of great value.
  3. No cost is too great when it is a matter of gaining the Kingdom.

These parables teach us that the Supreme value of the Kingdom is worth more than anything else in life. It is worth sacrificing­-giving up everything else in order to obtain it. St Paul said, “Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up every thing else and regard it as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him”. (Philippians 3:8-9, CEV).  

            Many centuries before Jesus told these parables God offered Solomon anything he wanted- riches- success-fame-long life. Instead of these material things he asked God to give him wisdom to rule wisely. Solomon understood something of the values of the Kingdom. He asked God something that was better than material things. Likewise in these parables, the man who found the buried treasure and the merchant who found the perfect pearl aimed for the best- the thing that was of the most value.

            What is it that you really value? Are you focussing on the lasting values of the Kingdom? Or are you focussing on things that ultimately fade into insignificance? That is the question you need to ask yourself and think about.

Let us thank God that Jesus makes it possible for us to be a member of his Kingdom. He paid the price so that we could have the prize.

Pastor Haydn Blaess.

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