Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hidden Treasure

"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."
Matthew 13:44

Banks are a great invention. They allow people to save money without fear. Can you imagine what you would do if there weren't any banks...if you had to keep all the money you owned at your house somewhere? Where would you put it? You might try to stuff it into a hole in your mattress. Or you might try to put it into an empty cookie jar. But eventually you would begin to fear that someone might try to take your money and or even kill you for it. Chances are that eventually you would do exactly what many people did when Jesus lived. They didn't have banks (just moneylenders) so many people buried their life savings somewhere on their property for safe keeping. It was a good solution, but every now and then someone would die suddenly without getting the chance to tell their family where the money was hidden or they would become senile and simply forget where they hid it. In a situation like this money could remain buried on someone's property for a long time.

In the above passage of Scripture Jesus tells a story of a man who finds money like this. It was buried in a field probably for the reasons stated above. This man was probably a servant working in the field. Perhaps he was tilling it to be planted or digging a well. Either way, somehow he found this money that had been hidden and then forgotten. Now this man is very shrewd because he didn't immediately lift the money out of the ground. Scripture says he hid the money again. Why did he do that? Well, first century law stated that once treasure like this was lifted from the earth it belonged to the landowner. The fact that this man was careful not to simply dig all the treasure up tells us that he was not the landowner. Instead he re-hides the treasure, goes home and sells everything he owns and purchases the field. The implication being of course that after he owned the field, he promptly went and dug up the treasure. Okay this is all well and good but what is Jesus trying to tell us?

This parable teaches us at least two things about God's kingdom. The first is fairly obvious. Admittance to the kingdom will cost you everything. Sometimes preachers talk about how salvation is free, and that is true. Christ paid the price for our sin. You and I cannot do anything to earn salvation, but this can be misleading. Just because you get a free puppy doesn't mean she won't cost you any money. Chances are that after you pay for shots and food and veterinary care you won't think that puppy was very free. The same goes for salvation. It is free but it is also very costly. In fact, salvation will cost you everything. Let me explain. Romans 10:9 says, "If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." To confess Jesus as Lord means to confess him as Lord of your life. It means much more than merely saying "Jesus please forgive me." It means that you surrender your life to Christ fully. He becomes your Lord, your King. Your allegiance changes. At salvation you choose to no longer live your life for yourself or for the world, but to live your life for Christ.

The second thing this parable teaches is not explicitly stated but it is implied in such a way that I think it is undeniable. The man sells all that he has to buy the field because the treasure that he has found is worth far more than all he currently has. Applied to the kingdom of heaven, this tells us that although admittance to the kingdom will costs us everything, what we receive in return far outweighs what we give up. Yes, salvation will cost you everything, but what you receive in salvation is worth far, far more anyway. This has certainly proved true in my own life.

So let me ask you a question: Have you accepted Christ as Lord of your life? Maybe you asked Him to save you from Hell, but have you ever actually surrendered your life to Him? I believe that doing so is necessary to salvation. Matthew 7:21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" What a tragedy. I believe this passage speaks directly to those who pay lip service to being a Christian but who haven't actually surrendered their life to Christ. Is that you? If so, confess Jesus as Lord of your life today.

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