Reading Time: 6 Minutes
Roy Whetstine, who was a rock collector, found a rock in a Tupperware container at a flea market.
In front of the stall which was full of rocks the sign read, “Any stone $15.”
The stones were of varied colors, shapes and sizes. Roy picked up a stone that looked like a potato. He asked the vendor, “You want $15 for this?”
The man said, “I’ll give it to you for $10, since it is not as pretty as the others.”
Roy bought it. What he purchased was the largest known star sapphire, valued at 2.5 million dollars uncut and about 10 million cut.
Like the star sapphire stone, the kingdom of God is present in the midst of many colorful and attractive alternatives. Jesus told two parables to alert us to the value of the kingdom and our response to it.
A Hidden Treasure and a Pearl
The star sapphire stone was hidden in plain sight, because on the surface it wasn’t as attractive as the far cheaper but more colorful stones.
Jesus used similar imagery about the kingdom and said, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13.44).
It is easy to see the point of Jesus’ parable. He taught that living in God’s kingdom is of such a great value that it is worth all we have to be a part of it.
No one would say that Roy Whetstine paid too much for the star sapphire. Just like Roy, when we give our whole life to Jesus and his kingdom, it is not a sacrifice. Instead, it’s a good bargain.
The parable of the Pearl of Great price is a twin to the Hidden Treasure with a very similar message.
Jesus told the parable like this, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13.45-46).
In the ancient world a pearl was considered the most valuable of all commodities. Without question, it was worth far more than a person’s entire net worth.
Just to state the obvious, Jesus wants us to value the kingdom of God as the two parables indicate. He wants us to view the kingdom as a treasure that is to be received with great joy and positive responsiveness.
Jesus as an Add-On
One of my friends once said that most people want a little of Christianity like a small dab of perfume or cologne. Too often, we see God’s kingdom as an add-on to our lives, but not as the single most important and controlling factor of our lives.
Let’s assume that in theory we believe to be completely true what Jesus said about the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl. Our mind agrees with his logic and accepts the value he places on living in God’s kingdom.
However, our behavior seems to contradict what our mind appears to accept. Jesus was perfectly correct when he said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matthew 15.8).
We need to seriously reflect on another of Jesus’ statements, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7.21).
How Can We Change?
Even as I write these words, I am convicted by them. I have a great “head knowledge” of Jesus and his kingdom. Yet, I must confess that my heart isn’t always as faithful as my head.
I often call out to God in prayer and use the title, “Lord,” but I don’t always do his will. He is the King, but I am a rebellious man in his kingdom more often that I want to admit.
The Alcoholic’s Anonymous admonition that “nothing changes if nothing changes,” is true with regard to our response to God’s kingdom. What changes can be made that will deepen the way we value this gift from God to us?
(1) Seek – The pearl merchant sought pearls. He didn’t wait for pearls to come to him.
Jesus said, “But seek first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6.33).
People who seek God’s kingdom, make plans at the beginning of each day to know God and to do his will. They ask for God’s guidance and then follow it.
A daily, habitual seeking to know God and to obey his directions will move our convictions about God from our head to our heart and into our behavior.
(2) Give Up – In both parables, the men gave up something to obtain something even greater.
Jesus taught through his actions and his message that surrender of our self-centered lives is essential to living in God’s kingdom.
He said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9.23).
One of our grandsons has no fear at all and the other is quite cautious. The last time we were on vacation, one readily flew down a large slide. The other had to be coaxed into trying the slide. Once he tried it, he was ready for many more trips down the slide.
Jesus told us the parables to coax us into trying out the giving up of our self-centered lives. When we give up the obsession of having our own way and begin living as obedient followers of the King, we will find that a full life follows.
The history of people and nations reveal the truth of Jesus’ words, “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9.24).
(3) Experiment – Why not put God to the test? Try living the remainder of this month by following the Scriptures I have just quoted.
— Seek a personal relationship with God and discover his will for you each morning before you begin your day. Then, live in that relationship, doing the next right thing that is led by the Lord.
— Consciously give up having to have your own way. Surrender you self-centered desires to Jesus in the conviction that Jesus has something better for you just as the parables of the Treasure in the Field and the Pearl of Great Price show.
About This Blog
Klyne Snodgrass has devoted 12 years of study to produce the book, Stories With Intent. His book is recognized as the best book on the parables in print. I am indebted to Dr. Snodrass’ work that helps shape my articles.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church.