“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
The parable above is one in a string of parables where Jesus is describing what the kingdom of heaven is like. In this verse, He tells us that kingdom of heaven is like a field with hidden treasure buried in it that a man finds and desires. So he sells everything he has to buy it. You might be familiar with this verse, and chances are you’ve heard the interpretation and seeming application many times as well. You might have been told that we are the man who has stumbled upon this field and must forsake everything to have this treasure.
Commentaries have shown that some men have really labored over the details of the parable. Some have said that the man was near the treasure and didn’t even know it because it was hidden. In the same way, God is near to all men and they don’t know it. Some have said that that the very fact it was hidden presupposed it was buried by someone beforehand. Therefore, that former burier must be Christ, and we are the one who find this treasure. Whatever the interpretation, we usually hear that we are the man, and that selling all we have is a way to describe repentance and forsaking the world.
This makes us the center of the parable. It also burdens us with the task of needing to give something up. Even asking the question makes our shoulders heavy: “What have you given up for the kingdom?” Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against feeling burdened. That’s what the law does when we look at it. If you let it loose, and don’t sand down the sharp edges, the law will burden and kills us. That’s why the good news of Jesus Christ is that He satisfied all of the demands of the law, and gives that perfect record to all of those who believe. In the case of this parable, the field must be purchased. This man sells all he has in order to have the funds to buy it. That’s not us.
We don’t buy the kingdom of heaven with anything. We can’t. Nothing we have can even begin to do that. It would be bribery because, in regard to God’s holy law, we are law breakers. We always have been. We have no money to offer and no amount of good works. When we die, if we have broken the law, we must be punished for it. Humanly speaking, if we break the laws here on earth, the same thing happens. Sure, maybe we might get away with it. Plenty of people have gone to their graves having gotten away with countless crimes. But God is different. He’s not a man. He sees everything. And we can’t escape.
The thought life and life you have in private that you would be mortified for anyone to know about is known fully by Him. Just imagine gathering all of your family members together in one room and playing your thought life just for that day on a screen for them. God already knows exactly what that looks like. And it continues day and night. The mind is always bright and awake with a flood of crooked and mangled thoughts. Always creating untoward and sickening scenarios. And we act upon these things daily. What on earth could we say or do that would make up for our thoughts, words, and deeds? What on earth could we sell in order to purchase that which is the antithesis of all that we are? Is it really enough to simply say, “I’m sorry! I won’t do it again!” when all the while we continue day in and day out? Is it really enough to feel really bad about it, and as long as we are aware of our problems, then we are okay? Would any of these scenarios allow us to escape a sentence here among human judges? Of course not.
But God did something about it. Jesus Christ satisfied the wrath of God on behalf of those who believe. God became a man, born of a virgin, and was named Jesus. He lived a perfect life in regard to God’s law. He was wrongly accused of blasphemy and put to death on a cross. But this was no surprise to Him. At that cross, God exhausted all of the anger and indignation toward the sin of believers. Jesus was being punished for those who would believe in Him. He died. He was buried in a tomb, and came back from the dead 3 days later so that He could declare believers justified before God – that is, they would be pardoned for their law breaking because Jesus would give them His righteousness. His life was given for theirs.
Jesus is that man who gave all He had, stepping away from the constant praise and splendor of heaven, to a dark and wicked world that would mock Him, hate Him, and ultimately put Him to death. Even His death was something He gave Himself. He gave it freely (John 10:18). And He did this to purchase us by His blood, His children, those who believe, hidden among the field of the world. Praise be to God alone for this great and awesome salvation.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.