Discover more from Heaven On Wheels
The Parables of Jesus Part 9
Matthew 13:44 - A treasure of inestimable value is found in the Kingdom of God, but you may not even see it in front of you.
““The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Matthew 13:44 NASB1995
Chapter 13 of Matthew continues with parables, with this one and the next two being unique to this long chapter in that Gospel full of teaching with parables. This tiny parable about the hidden treasure is not explained; Biblical commentary is full of wildly divergent opinions as to meanings, ethical implications and other things that can be gleaned from the parable. My research found out that burying part or all of the valuable things that a person had back in Biblical times was a fairly safe way to protect treasures like gold, coins and jewelry. The danger was in not remembering where you buried it!
A casual non-believing reader of this parable would likely shout “hold it” - is Jesus telling believers that they should lie and then cheat the property owner out of having the treasure? The man finds the buried treasure in a field that is not his, hides it again, sells everything he has and buys the field from an unsuspecting owner. It’s worth trying to answer this question, because the unbelieving world is full of skeptics who love nothing better than finding what they call “gotchas” to try and diminish or contradict the Word of God. A superb answer to this question is found in Precept Austin quoting from John MacArthur from his Matthew commentary:
In the first place, it is obvious that the treasure was not hidden by the present owner of the field and was unknown to him. Otherwise, he would have retrieved it before he sold the field. The man who bought the field obviously knew the owner was not aware of the treasure or he would not have offered to buy the field, knowing the treasure would not be included in the deal. In the second place, rabbinic law provided that “if a man finds scattered fruit or money, it belongs to the finder.” If a person came across money or other valuables that were obviously lost and whose owner was dead or unknown, the finder had the right to keep what was found. In the third place, the basic honesty of the man is testified to by the fact that, had he been dishonest, he would simply have taken the treasure without any thought of buying the field. But he did not even use part of the treasure to buy the field; rather, he sells all that he has, and buys that field.
A perfect answer!
The Kingdom of God has inestimable value and may be right in front of you and you don’t even recognize it! It is, however, meant to be found if the soil of your heart is prepared. Turning once again to Precept Austin (see link above), commentary from Pastor Gil Rugh (Indian Hills Community Church, Omaha) talks about this invisible Kingdom and how it is found by those who are not seeking it:
This great treasure, however, is sometimes found even by those who are not actively looking for it. There are a number of examples of this kind of individual in the New Testament. The woman at the well in Samaria recorded in John 4:1-29+ was not looking for the King, nor was she looking for the kingdom. She was a Samaritan woman who had simply come to the well to draw water. Yet as Jesus confronted her with the truth about Himself (Jn 4:25, 26), she believed in Him, then went to bring the people of the city back to hear Him to see for themselves if he was the promised Messiah (Jn 4:28-30, 39, 40).
Saul was not searching for Christ on the road to Damascus. This man, who became known as the great Apostle Paul, was opposing Christ, yet he came upon that great treasure and the salvation that is found in Him. (Acts 9:2-17, 18, 19, 30+) This seems to be the point of the parable of the hidden treasure. The great treasure of the kingdom and its King is present, yet many do not know it is there or recognize it, but some stumble upon it. The parable views salvation from the human aspect. No one questions the sovereign work of God in bringing these people to Jesus Christ, but humanly speaking, they are not pursuing or actively looking for the kingdom. The prophet Isaiah recorded a statement which fits very well with what Jesus is illustrating in this parable. “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me” (Isa.65:1). Those who were not seeking came upon this great treasure.
Finally, I wanted to bring forward the analysis done by David Guzik in Enduring Word for this passage. I haven’t consulted his commentary recently, because I found alternative explanations for the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven that I was more in agreement with (I don’t believe those parables are about corrupting influences in the church). However, he has a very interesting perspective on who it is who finds the treasure:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field: The field is the world, but the man does not represent the believer, because we have nothing to buy this treasure with. Instead, Jesus is the man who gave all that He had to buy the field.
“Under rabbinic law if a workman came on a treasure in a field and lifted it out, it would belong to his master, the field’s owner; but here the man is careful not to lift the treasure out till he has bought the field.” (Don Carson)
And for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field: The treasure so wonderful that Jesus would give all to purchase is the individual believer. This powerfully shows how Jesus gave everything to redeem the whole world to preserve a treasure in it, and the treasure is His people.
“Finding the treasure appears to be by chance. In a land as frequently ravaged as Palestine, many people doubtless buried their treasures; but…to actually find a treasure would happen once in a thousand lifetimes. Thus the extravagance of the parable dramatizes the supreme importance of the kingdom.” (Don Carson)
“So did Jesus himself, at the utmost cost, buy the world to gain his church, which was the treasure which he desired.” (Charles Spurgeon)
I love this perspective on this parable, which is, of course, quite different than many of the other viewpoints that I read. Jesus gave His all for the treasure of our souls and to gain His church in this, the great field of the world!
My next devotional examines the similar short parable in Matthew 13:35, the Pearl of Great Price.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - The priceless treasure of Your Kingdom, purchased with Your blood, is meant to be found. Help me to lay the treasure in front of those who do not believe or see its inestimable value. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary by David Guzik on Enduring Word is used with written permission.
The personal testimony of Bruce Hurt, who painstakingly aggregated any commentaries and sermons on Precept Austin is found Here.