MATTHEW 13:44-46 OCTOBER 2, 2022
Last week we began a look at the Parables Jesus spoke as He taught His disciples. We talked and looked at the Parable of the Sower.
Today we are going to continue with a look at other Parables. But first, we must go back and remind ourselves a little bit about what parables are and find what is important.
We will find the parables of today’s message in Matthew 13:44-46.
You will note that at the beginning of His teaching on each of the Parables, Jesus says this: “The kingdom of heaven is like……..”
We will actually look at two parables today. But they are closely linked and could be presented as one. But, of course, they each have a distinct and specific meaning.
So, in Matthew 13:44 Jesus says, “The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and went and sold all that he had and bought the field.”
Then, in Matthew 13:45-46 we read, “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.”
Notice that Jesus is giving a picture of the kingdom of Heaven in both parables. In the first one, a man pretty much stumbled on the treasure. He apparently didn’t go out to the field specifically searching for a treasure.
In the second parable, though, the merchant was specifically searching for fine pearls.
Parables are unique and somewhat foreign to our minds. When we read and study the parables, we need to approach them, not with our Midwestern American mind. We need, instead to try to grasp the basic meaning of the parables as they would have been understood by the disciples in the 1st century.
Have you ever found an old, abandoned house or barn and entered to see if you can find something that had been left behind? We might find something which is junk to one person but is a treasure to someone else. This is somewhat of what was happening in this parable.
In today’s world, we most often would believe that finding something valuable in that way is very unlikely.
But we know that some treasures have been found unexpectedly over time. For instance, a shepherd boy working near the Dead Sea found scrolls that were 2,000 years old. A diver, off the coast of Florida coast, located a sunken 17th-century Spanish ship filled with silver and gold. A farmer plowing his field in Suffolk, England, struck a container that held beautiful silver dishes from Roman times.
So, Jesus says a treasure has been found in a field. No one knows how long it had been there. No one knows who put it there.
It is known that in Palestine, which was often ravished by war, people often buried their treasures in a field, where it would be safer, rather than in a house. So, a man hides his treasure in his field. He goes off to war and never returns. No one would know where he had hidden his treasure.
So, now, let’s look at the man who found the treasure as he was plowing the field. We have to understand here that the field did not belong to this man at this time. He didn’t know what the treasure was or how it got there. But he dug it out.
And then, a light came on in his mind. “This treasure can be mine. I just need to buy the field.” So, he put it back where he found it and covered it up. If the owner sold him the field, the treasure would become his own possession.
But he needed the finances in order to be able to purchase the field. The solution – sell everything he owns to buy the field.
Now, that is the account of the first part of Jesus’ teaching in the 13th chapter of Matthew.
A second parable is told in verses 45 and 46. Again, Jesus tells us that the kingdom of Heaven is like…… A merchant who is seeking fine pearls. There is one major difference in the two parables. Maybe you have noticed it already. The difference is that the first man was not seeking to find a treasure. In the second, the man is seeking fine pearls. And he finds one which is of exceptional value. This man, like the one in the first parable, sells everything he owns and buys the one pearl. And, like the other man, this one, too, absolutely had to have the treasure he found.
In the first century of the Christian era pearls were a status symbol of the wealthy people. In that time pearls were in great demand. Merchants had to go to the Red Sea, or the Persian Gulf, or India where the finest of pearls could be found. Pearl hunting involved long, and distant trips to find them.
And this man is looking for fine pearls. On one specific day, he finds one particular pearl of great price. (If you are a fisherman, you might call this the great catch of the day). This is a chance of a lifetime – to find such a fine pearl. So, he makes up his mind – “I have to have that pearl.”
He thinks it over. He makes calculations in his mind and evaluates his bank account. He doesn’t have enough. So, he decides to sell all of his belongings in order to buy that one perfect pearl.
Like the man who discovered the treasure hidden in the field, this man sees this as a now-or-never proposition – sell everything and buy.
Both of these men – having made their purchases – would be respected by other people because of their newly acquired wealth.
They have acted with good business sense. To pass up such a find would be foolish. Neither of them made a sacrifice. There is a difference between a purchase price and a sacrifice. A purchase is directed toward acquiring an object of equivalent value. Sacrifice is a giving that expects no reward. Both paid the full justifiable price of the items they purchased. They gave all they had to gain the one thing they desired.
So, these parables are a part of Scripture. And Scripture is intended to teach us something today. What, then, do these parables teach us?
We can identify the treasure and the pearl are Jesus Christ. When someone comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, they can say, “I have found Christ!” And, in saying that, he or she is saying, “I have found a great treasure in Him.”
And that new babe in Christ is filled with joy. He returns to his own home, neighborhood, workplace, or school, sharing the wonderful new life he has found. They give up their former lifestyles, devoting their life completely to Jesus Christ.
Some, who find this great pearl of great price – life in Jesus Christ – selling all to begin full time studying to begin a life working full time in the ministry of the Gospel.
It is Jesus who offers the treasure and the pearl to people traveling through this life. Some people are searching for truth. Some are wandering, not sure what they need. Not knowing where to find it.
But when they meet Jesus and find in Him a priceless treasure. The response should be one of total self-surrender. Joyfully, they are willing to give up the earthly, temporary treasures in order to make Jesus first place in their lives.
Of course, salvation cannot be purchased. Salvation, provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is free and full. It is a gift; a gift of giving our heart and life to Jesus Christ.
The old hymn says it so well:
“All to Jesus, I surrender; All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him; In His presence daily live.
I surrender all; I surrender all.
All to Thee, my Blessed Savior,
I surrender all.