Parables: A Treasure and a Pearl
Read Matthew 13v44-46
What have we seen so far about the kingdom of heaven in the parables we’ve looked at?
- Not everyone who hears the word of the kingdom bears fruit
- Being among it doesn’t mean being part of it
- It starts small and grows big
- It impacts everything it touches
In what way are these new parables looking at it from a different angle?
Particularly the first one – what is the kingdom like, what happens to that kingdom? Here Jesus is comparing it to something which can be discovered and owned as well as something that you can be part of. Putting the focus on your actions. Here owning or coming into ownership of something is like the kingdom of heaven – different from the previous picture of ‘the sons of the kingdom’. The kingdom can belong to you, as well as you belonging to it.
Where has Jesus used this language before? See Matthew 5v3,10 where Jesus says ‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.
What are the stand out features in both parables?
How does Jesus characterise the kingdom of heaven? It is a treasure. It is something beautiful, something to be greatly desired and which anyone should wish to own.
What about the attitude of the characters to this treasure? What does the man who finds the treasure do first? He finds it and hides it, because he is so determined to have it for his own. He has great joy when he finds it. The man in the other parable is seeking for pearls, and finding this one is the answer to his desire.
What do they do to obtain this thing of value? Both men have to sell everything in order to obtain this treasure
What is the main point that Jesus is making here?
We should evaluate things rightly, we should prize what is truly valuable
In what way is the kingdom of heaven valuable/beautiful? From what we’ve learnt already? It has an intrinsic value in itself (just like a treasure, something very valuable) as the one thing that lasts, and grows, and produces results. Nothing else lives up to it.
What should our attitude be to it? We should desire this kingdom! We should rejoice when we have it for ourselves.
What does it mean to own the kingdom of heaven? It’s the same general point as being in the kingdom, being part of it – but it’s not a passive association. The kingdom of heaven is where you really belong – having it today as well as looking forward to it in its fullness.
How should this impact our attitude to everything else? Think about how this will work in practice for us. How will ‘went and sold all he had and bought it’ look in our lives?
How do we know this is the right understanding of the parable? (v61) That Jesus isn’t saying ‘keep it secret’? Or you have to be wealthy to get in? You have to own no worldly goods? By looking at the context and at the main point Jesus is making we can easily see what he is talking about. We didn’t have to make guesses as Jesus takes care to clearly emphasise what he wants us to learn from these parables. We shouldn’t try to make up additional applications of things we ‘see’ in them but which Jesus didn’t.
Why does Jesus want us to know what these parables teach?
Because we don’t naturally see the value of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus wants to challenge us to evaluate it rightly, to be prepared to give up anything else to have it for our own, to prioritise it above all other things that attract us.
He also wants to encourage us. If you have the kingdom of heaven for your own you have all that you need, you have made the right choice.
What does this build on what we learnt from the previous parables?
Think about what it means to have the kingdom of heaven for your own. Do you really value it enough to give up everything else for it? If not you still don’t really understand it.