Commentary on Matthew 13:44-46
Parables of the Kingdom (cont’d):
Today we read the 5th and 6th parables which have basically the same message but with some difference in emphasis.
In the first, a man unexpectedly discovers treasure in a field and quickly puts it back again. In ancient times it was common to hide treasure in the ground since there were no banks as we know them. There were, however, “bankers”, people who could handle money, probably closer to what we would call moneylenders. (Remember the parable of the talents where the man who hid his talent was told he should have deposited it with a banker so that it could earn interest. Instead, he did what someone in this parable had done – buried it in a field.)
The finder then goes and quietly buys the field, selling everything he has in order to do so; the treasure is now his.
In the second parable, a jewel merchant comes across a magnificent pearl. Again, he sells all the lesser pearls he already has in order to gain possession of it.
These, Jesus says, are images of the Kingdom. There is a significant difference between them. In the first parable, the man comes on the treasure purely by accident. He was not looking for anything like that. He just came across it while working in someone else’s field. That is the way that Christ can come into some people’s lives. They are living their lives with a greater or lesser degree of happiness and satisfaction and then, out of the blue, they are brought face to face with the Christian message. It can happen in so many ways and has been described in many accounts of conversion. The effect is to turn their whole life around.
In the second case, the man is looking for something. He has a very definite goal in mind – the perfect pearl. Similarly, a person can be looking for real meaning in their life. They may have tried many things already with only partial satisfaction. Then they come across the Gospel of Jesus and they know that here is the answer they have been looking for. Everything else is abandoned as they focus entirely on following the Way of Jesus. They know that this is it.
Once we truly understand what it really means to live under the Lordship of God, once we have a full understanding of the vision of life that Jesus proposes, then everything else pales into insignificance. And, whatever enticements may come our way, we know that there is no other way to go. Jesus is the Way. Jesus is Truth and Jesus is Life. We would not exchange his Way for anything.