As the story goes, a poor man who spent his life as a tenant farmer was working in the field. He had gone over the ground countless times with his plow and as he came across the occasional rock, he would throw it over in a pile at the edge of the propriety. But this time was different, as he was plowing the ground he found not a rock but a treasure. As he held the treasure in his hands, he realized it was worth more than he could comprehend. So he hid it.
Rushing home, he told his wife to sell everything. They sold what little they had, and scrounged up enough to purchase the field. Truth be told, they didn’t want the field, but they did want the treasure it contained.
Jesus tells this little parable in Matthew 13.44. Though it is a single verse, the truth it contains is a powerful declaration of the Christian life. But even more significant was the little discovery I found, not in a field, but in this verse.
Though Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, it is important to note that throughout the book of Matthew, the statement “Kingdom of Heaven” is not merely a location. Yes it is used as a place but more often than not, it refers not to a location but a relationship. The Kingdom of Heaven Jesus is talking about is not something you obtain when you die but a relationship you experience even now.
What is this relationship like? It is like a man who finds a treasure and sells all he has to obtain it.
It is interesting in this passage that the man was not looking for the treasure. He stumbled upon it. Isn’t that much like our lives? We are not the ones who decide to go after God, He has been in the process of getting our attention. Though we may say we “stumbled” upon God, in reality He has been going after us for a long time.
Once the treasure is found, the man gives up all he has in order to possess it. Everything he has, his entire life, all he has strived and struggled for is given up to have this single treasure. This is the reality of Jesus. He is worth more than riches, fame, prestige, and life itself. It would be foolish not to give up everything to gain Him.
Just like in our lives, the cost for the treasure demands all. The man had to sell everything in order to buy the treasure. We too must give up our lives (i.e.: the old man, the flesh, sin) to gain Christ. The call of Christianity is not to keep your life and add Jesus – it is a call to die to yourself, lay down everything, and throw yourself completely upon the saving work of Jesus.
A Continual Surrender
While studying this passage I was looking at the grammar and noticed that the verbs for “goes, sells, and buys” are all present tense. What is fascinating about the Greek present tense is that it can convey the idea of not just present tense but ongoing action (always being in the present tense). What does this mean for our passage?
While it makes sense in the parable for the man to sell and throw everything aside to gain the treasure, in our lives, this is not a one time deal. We must daily die, take up our cross, and go after Jesus. There is an ever present tense of giving up our lives, surrendering all we have to gain the treasure (Jesus).
What does the Kingdom of Heaven (relationship with God) look like? Today it means giving up my life, living in absolute surrender and depending upon Jesus for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1.3). Tomorrow it means the same thing – I must give myself to Jesus afresh and surrender/give up my life. And then the same for the day after that.
The calling on my life as a Christian is a constant abiding, surrender, and dependency.
A treasure is laid before you … what are you willing to give up to obtain it?