Sunday, July 16, 2017

[Matt's Messages] "Hidden Treasure - Family Bible Week 2017"

“Hidden Treasure”
Family Bible Week 2017
Matthew 13:44 :: July 16, 2017

As you can tell, we’ve had a great Family Bible Week. Lots of good food, good fun, good fellowship, and a really good time the Word of God.

Every single one of our classes, including the teens and adults, have spent the week studying some of the greatest short stories ever told in human history.

The Parables of Jesus Christ.

The kids back there are studying their fifth and last parable right now.

Jesus’ parables are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning, that is to say Jesus told these stories to illustrate spiritual truth.

They aren’t just nice stories, but stories with punch.

I call the parables “short stories with a shove.”

Imagine being in the audience when Jesus told His parables. There you are just listening to Jesus tell an engaging story, and then all of sudden, you realize that the story is about you!

Jesus was the greatest storyteller in history, but he didn’t just entertain with his stories–he grabbed his listeners and turned them upside down...with his stories!

When was the last time you heard a great story that pushed you in a new direction?

Well, in our verse for today, Matthew 13:44, Jesus tells a very short story.

A very short story! In the Greek, it’s just one sentence. In most of our English versions it’s just 2 sentences.

And it’s a short story about “Hidden Treasure.”

In fact, I believe it’s the earliest known story about geo-caching.

Or maybe not. But it is about 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.”

Now, this may be a very short story, but Jesus packs an awful lot in there.

“The kingdom of heaven.”

Our adult class learned this week that the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God (same thing) was Jesus’ favorite topic to teach on.

Whenever He got a chance to teach, Jesus was always teaching on the Kingdom of God–the righteous rule of the rightful King over His redeemed people and His restored realm. The Kingdom of Heaven.

If you were in our adult class this week, shout out the answer to these questions:

Has the kingdom come already?

Yes and no, right?

The kingdom has come because the King has come. Jesus Himself.

And yet, the kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. This is not as good as it gets.

But Jesus taught that the Kingdom will come when the King returns. And we’re supposed to be ready for it.

Next question. Is the kingdom big or small?

It starts out small (mustard seed, anyone?), but it will one day cover the world!

Next question. Is the kingdom somber or joyful?

The kingdom is a party!

It’s joyful to the ultimate degree. We saw in the parables this week incredible joy when someone found the kingdom. When someone was found in the kingdom. The kingdom is a party!

Question. Who is welcome in the kingdom? Who are the citizens of the kingdom?

Surprising Answer: Sinners who repent. The citizens of the kingdom are those who have been rebels against the King but lay down their arms and accept His gift of amnesty, His gift of forgiveness.

Not people who think they are worthy of the kingdom, but those who know they are not.

That’s who’s welcome!

The kingdom is so surprising. No wonder Jesus loved to talk about it.

This whole chapter, Matthew 13, the context of our parable for today, is chock-full of parables about the kingdom, some of which we looked at this week in their parallels in Luke. Verse 34 says that “Jesus spoke all these things [about the kingdom] to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them [during that time] without using a parable.”

Just like the Old Testament had predicted (v.35), “So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet [in Psalm 78]: ‘I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.’”

That’s where we got our theme for Family Bible Week this year.

Jesus is unearthing spiritual truth after spiritual truth about the Kingdom of God.

And we get to listen and learn!

Now, let’s look specifically at the story of the kingdom that Jesus tells in verse 44.

“The kingdom of heaven is like [there’s a correspondence between the kingdom and...] 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.”

Do you get the picture?

A treasure is hidden in a field.
A man finds it in the field.
The man (like a good geo-cacher) hides it again in the field.
The man sells his stuff and buys the field.
End of story.

Now, isn’t that an incredible short story? There is so much in there.

It’s got buried treasure in it.
It’s a got a very surprised and very happy man.
It’s got a twist at the end.

What more could you want?

What does it mean?

What is Jesus teaching?

So, let’s ask our adult class what is the first thing that we should look for to interpret this parable?

We need to ask, “What is what?”


What things in the story correspond to what things outside the story in real life?

And we learned this week that not every detail in a story directly relates to something outside the story in real life.

It’s easy to go wrong if you try to get too many details to match up.

That’s now how these stories of Jesus work.

So, what is what?

Well, we know that the kingdom is like treasure hidden in a field.

Now, sometimes that opening sentence can be misleading. Like in the next verse, it  says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.”

That does mean that the pearl-seeking merchant himself is the kingdom of heaven.

The phrase is basically saying that the “reality of the kingdom” is like this story I’m now about to tell you about.

But in the case of verse 44, I think it’s actually a direct correspondence.

The kingdom itself is like the treasure.

Hidden, yes. And valuable. So incredibly valuable.

The hiddenness of the kingdom is present throughout this chapter. Our adult class learned a lot about context this week, and the hidden nature of the kingdom is a theme throughout the context of this chapter. It can be easily missed.

And then the emphasis here in verse 44 is on how valuable that hidden treasure really is.

How about the field?

What do think the field is in this story?

Earlier in the chapter, there is another field in another parable.

And when Jesus 3 explains that parable, he says (v .38), “The field is the world.”

So do you think the field here in verse 44 is the world?


No. We learned this week that the correspondences in one parable do not automatically port to another parable.

No, I think the field in this story is just a field in this story.

But what about the man?

Who is the man in the story in a real life? What is his external referent?

I’m not sure that he really has one.

In a story so short, I don’t know that the man has to have a corresponding reality.

Some people have thought that the man is Jesus Christ Himself.

And that is a remote possibility.

In that case, the parable is teaching the truth that “for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the Cross.” Jesus gave His all, His precious blood to purchase the Kingdom to give it to us.

And that is certainly true. He sure did.

But I don’t think that’s what this parable is talking about.

I think that’s looking for too much correspondence.

I think the point of the parable is simply that kingdom is supremely valuable.

The Kingdom of God is worth everything.

Absolutely everything.

Because that’s the kicker, isn’t it?

I mean there isn’t much time in this story for there to be a twist, but what a surprise ending?!  Verse 44 again.

“When a man found [the treasure], he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

All he had?!

That’s a twist, isn’t it?

What all do you have?

Do you own a car or two, a house?
Do you have a bank account?
Do you own some land?
Do you have something in your wallet?
Do you have something in storage?
Do you have some things in your closet?

Now, imagine liquidating all of that.

You go to the bank, and you withdraw all of your money.

You sell your house, your vehicles, you cash in your retirement plan.

You put every single thing you have into one cashier's check, and you go to the realtor’s office, and you put it down on that one field.

You slide all of the chips you have across the table for that one field.

Because it has that one treasure that’s worth it all!

Do you see the joy there?

The kingdom is a party.

This guy is so overjoyed to get this treasure for himself.

He has hit the jackpot.

He has won the lottery without even playing it!

Now, in the next story in the next verse, there is another man. This guy was actually searching, but he finds something similar. V.45

“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.”

Same lesson.

The kingdom of heaven is worth absolutely everything.

It’s worth jumping at the chance to get no matter what it costs.

Now, I think we could also go wrong in thinking that we can somehow buy the kingdom.

If we give enough money.

If we just give away all of our money, we can buy the kingdom.

But I don’t think we’re the man in the story either.

I don’t think Jesus is the man.
I don’t think the disciples are the man.
I don’t think we are the man.

This parable is not teaching us HOW to find the kingdom.

It’s teaching us that the kingdom is supremely valuable.

The kingdom is worth everything. Absolutely everything.

And one other way we can go wrong is by getting stuck on the ethics of the man in the story.

Anybody feel that question as we read it?

I mean was this ethical for him to do that?

I understand that he didn’t lift the treasure. He didn’t steal it. He didn’t find it and run home with it.

He just put it back where he found it and then bought the whole the field so that it was unquestionably his.

What he did was probably legal.

But I wouldn’t want somebody to do that to me!

What do you think, class?

I think it’s not the point.

Jesus isn’t teaching ethics here. He does elsewhere.

The other night, we studied the parable of the Shrewd and Dishonest[!] Manager. He was not commended for being dishonest, just for looking ahead and exhibiting shrewdness.

Jesus is not necessarily commending this course of action.

He’s just showing how much this treasure was worth to this man.

The kingdom is worth whatever it takes!

The merchant, he had found the be-all-and-end all of pearls.

And he was willing to part with every other thing he had of value to gain that pearl.

That’s it! That’s what this story is teaching.

The kingdom of heaven is supremely valuable.

It’s worth risking anything and everything to possess!

So here’s the shove:

Is the kingdom this valuable to you and me?

And you know what makes the kingdom so valuable?

It’s the King, of course.

It’s the Kingdom of Christ!

So here’s the shove again:

Is the King and His Kingdom this valuable to you and me?

No, we don’t buy it. We never could.

We couldn’t rub together enough money to earn this kingdom.

That’s what we’re learning in Galatians, isn’t it?

We get into the kingdom by grace through faith.

Faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul got it. He said Philippians 3, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

Paul gave up everything He had to gain Christ.

Because everything He had was nothing.

Christ Jesus is the only thing worth everything!

Is the King and His Kingdom worth everything to you?

Let me ask it this way:

If the King and His Kingdom was this valuable to you, what would change?

What would change in your priorities?

What would change in how you spend your time?

What would change in how you spend your money?

What would change in how you worship?

What would change in you work?

What would change in your relationship?

If the kingdom is worth everything to you and me, what needs to change to reflect that?

Where is your treasure?

What is your treasure?

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

What needs to change in your life to reflect the fact that you have found the be-all-and-end-all? The pearl of greatest price.

The treasure that relativizes all treasures.

Is there a sin that needs confessed and repented of?

Is there a relationship that needs to change?

Is there some forgiveness that needs to be granted?

Is there a shifting of your time or money or some other thing you need to move?

If Jesus and His Kingdom is worth everything, absolutely everything, then what needs to change in your life and mine?

I believe that’s the question that Jesus’ story is pushing us to answer in each of our lives today.

Can I ask you to do something as we close?

Would you write down what you think needs to change?

And would you pray to God that you will make strides by faith to change in that area this week.

I think it would be very sad if we all said, “No, I’m good. I’ve heard that story before. It’s interesting. But I’m not listening. I’m not changing. My life already reflects the appropriate amount of value that I give to the kingdom.”

That would be so sad.

But he who has ears to hear, let him hear.

And let him respond appropriately.

Because “[t]he 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.”

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.