Hello and welcome to the STC Daily Podcast, my name’s Abby, I’m part of the staff team at STC and it’s a real privilege to be opening the Bible and sharing some of my thoughts with you today.
The passage that we’re looking at is Matthew 13:44-58. Today I want to focus on verse 44 – the parable of the hidden treasure, which reads:
“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.”
Now, the Kingdom of heaven is a phrase that we bandy about quite a lot, but sometimes it can be confusing when we stop to think about what Jesus is actually referring to. In his teaching, Jesus never explicitly defines what the Kingdom of heaven is, but uses parables like this to teach us and give us a glimpse into what God’s kingdom is like. If it’s helpful, I think of the kingdom of God as what God’s been pursuing for his people since the beginning, it was established forever through Jesus’s death and resurrection and will fully come to pass when Jesus returns. Chris Wright, in his book the Mission of God, brilliantly sums up the kingdom of God, he says that it means justice for the oppressed, it will bring true peace to the nations, it will put an end to poverty, want and need, and provide everyone with economic viability, it will mean satisfying and fulfilling life for families, safety for children, and fulfilment for the elderly…and all of this within a renewed creation free from harm and threat. – what a kingdom that will be!
In this parable of the hidden treasure, the man who discovers the treasure, this kingdom that we’re talking about, knows that it’s something that’s worth giving everything up for – the man sells everything he owns in order to follow Jesus and join in with his kingdom.
I wonder if you’ve had a moment when you’ve realised just what it means to be part of God’s kingdom, and you know that it’s worth giving everything up for, to pursue the values and mission of God? For me, there was a moment when I had just finished sixth form and I was on a short-term mission trip in Peru. We were taking communion one Sunday and, I don’t know if it was something to do with, at the time, not understanding the language and just being in a completely different setting to what I was used to, but as I took the bread and the wine I was struck properly for the first time really of just what Jesus had done for me in dying on the cross, and the freedom that he had given me, and I felt really challenged in that moment about how I was living my life in response to that. That was the moment when I found the metaphorical treasure in the field and sold all I had to buy it. It led me to deferring my place at university for a year and, it’s a story for another time, but each stage after that including what I went on to study and my work since I think has been impacted by choosing to surrender everything to God in that moment.
Now I’m aware that in one sense this can paint a very rosy picture. As I’ve been reading and thinking about this passage again I’ve been wondering about what happens after that mountain top moment, once the man discovered the treasure and sold everything he owned – does the reality of what has just happened sink in, does he suddenly panic about what to do with all the treasure he’s gained, are there moments further down the line when he maybe wishes he hadn’t sold everything he had, when what he’s gained doesn’t feel worth it, does he wonder what might have happened if he had never stumbled across the treasure? Unfortunately we don’t get any more of the man’s story in these verses in Matthew and I realise I’m speculating slightly, but I think what God’s been reminding me as I’ve been thinking about these verses is that surrendering everything to Him isn’t just a one off moment. Yes there’s that moment where we discover the treasure and fully say yes to Jesus, but it’s a decision we have to keep coming back to and committing to again – we have to keep choosing God’s kingdom. I think it can sometimes be very easy to think that we’ve got it sorted and are sold out in following God and then something might pop up that reminds us that maybe we hadn’t quite surrendered everything as we had thought, and it feels harder than we want it to.
I wonder if, for many of us, this year might have been a stark reminder of that – maybe you feel like Coronavirus has put a bit of a pause on your life… Were there plans and dreams that you had for this year that feel like they’ve just gone down the pan? Do you feel like your control has been stripped away?
My question, very much to myself today, but hopefully it’s helpful for you as well, is, whose year was this, whose plans were they anyway? When I surrendered everything to God, was that okay, as long as it was on my terms? As long as I still had some sense of control over my life?
This passage has encouraged me to come back to what it means to enter God’s kingdom, to realise again and again that it’s worth it, to remind myself to keep making the decision over and over, even when it might not turn out like we’d expect.
So what do we do when we maybe realise that we haven’t surrendered everything to God, how do we keep coming back to him? I think there are two things to briefly pick out – as I was praying about this I felt God remind me that He ultimately is the treasure keeper, Matthew 6:33 says,‘but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Seeking God’s kingdom isn’t something that we do on our own, in our own strength, we need to ask God to guide us, to work through us and to give us the strength that we need
And secondly, we need to remember what the treasure is that we’ve found – back to Chris Wright’s definition, God’s kingdom is about justice, peace, and fulfilment, a kingdom where everyone has enough. My prayer for us today is that we’d realise afresh the treasure that we find in God, and that we’d have the strength to surrender our control and our own desires to Him again.
God, thank you for the treasure that we find in you. Help us to realise again today, that to pursue your kingdom of justice and righteousness, is worth surrendering everything else for, help us to put you first in everything we do today. Amen
BIBLE READING: Matthew 13:44-58
‘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.
‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked.
‘Yes,’ they replied.
He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’
When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. Coming to his home town, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?’ they asked. ‘Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?’ And they took offence at him.
But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’
And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.