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. (Matthew 13:44-46)
When a New York family picked up an unassuming ceramic bowl from a garage sale for three dollars, they had no idea that it came from the Northern Song Dynasty (China, 960-1127). After being verified as a thousand-year-old treasure, it was put up for auction and purchased by an antiquities dealer for 2.2 million dollars. Many of us dream about finding an incredibly valuable treasure in the attic, but what would we do if we actually found one? Today’s parables offer some perspective.
The parables about the hidden treasure and the pearl follow on the heels of the parables about the mustard seed and the yeast. Jesus made His point about how unassuming the Kingdom of heaven is, but now He reminds His audience of its incredible value. Jesus emphasizes two things: the high value of the treasure, and the ultimate cost of obtaining it. The repetition of the parable confirms for us that both finder and merchant sell everything they have to obtain that which they desire (vv. 44, 46). In this way, the seeker of the Kingdom may be more like the dealer who paid an astronomical price for the bowl. When the real value of something is realized, it prompts radical sacrifice.
Matthew 13 is bookended by two accounts that confirm these parables. In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus underscores the importance of the Kingdom by lifting it above His own family in priority. In Matthew 13:53-58 He returns to His hometown to be welcomed with contempt and dishonor. The cost of this Kingdom He is building will not just be His reputation or separation from His earthly family, but ultimately His very life. If this is the cost Christ paid for our entry into His Kingdom, how much more should the Kingdom of God be worth to us?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says in The Cost of Discipleship: “[Grace] is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price,’ and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” Consider your own walk with God. What has it cost you to follow Christ, and what should it cost you moving forward?