44The 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.
45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:44-46
These three verses comprise two different parables, but neither can stand without the other. The first says the kingdom of God is like a treasure, the second that it is like a merchant.
In the first, it is a man, representative of all of humanity, that finds the treasure. Anyone who finds a treasure has a number of choices, for example, he can
- walk away, not recognizing its value
- walk away, wishing for it but not seeing any way to obtain it
- try to steal it
- do whatever it takes to obtain it honestly
The man in the parable did the latter. He wanted that treasure so badly that he gave up everything else he possessed in order to buy the field, probably for considerably more than it was worth to the owner.
So it is when anyone hears the message of grace and desires to receive it. Unlike a tangible treasure in a tangible field, grace is free. We can’t earn it. But on the other hand, it will cost us everything we have to make it truly our own. Whoever wants go forward in grace and move on to perfection cannot keep a single scrap of who they are or what they have for themselves. They must give everything they were or had, everything they are or have, and everything they ever will be or have to God in order to take advantage of the grace he so freely bestows. Anything less that everything is sin, which is also death.
Why would anyone want to give up that much? Isn’t sin just something the church invented to scare people into conformity? That might appear to be the case, except for the second parable.
Unlike the man in the first parable, who found a treasure by accident and hid it so no one else would find it (not very nice of him, was it?), this merchant is looking for pearls and examining them. When he found what he was looking for, he sold everything he had to buy one pearl.
Think of the extravagance! If he was in the business of selling pearls, what would anyone else have to do to be able to buy that pearl from him. If he found it that valuable, he would probably never be willing to part with it.
So who was this merchant who bankrupted himself to obtain one pearl? It’s God, creator and judge of heaven and earth. What is the pearl that he found so fine and valuable that he’d be willing to give up everything he had to obtain it? Me.
That’s not an arrogant statement. If you think so, read it out loud. When I say “me,” I mean David Guion, the All-Purpose Guru. When you say “me” you mean someone entirely different. The question and answer in the previous paragraph is equally true for everyone who reads it.
Think of it! The Lord of the universe bankrupted himself so he could get me. Once you catch on to that, you have discovered the treasure in the field. What to you plan to do about it.
God so loved the world that he gave. He became the man Jesus Christ, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, was buried, and descended into hell. All so he could get me away from Satan, the god of this world. I owe him everything I was, am, or ever will be. Anything less is sin.