The Kingdom Of Heaven: Parables of Eternal Value
By Randy Bushey
Is the Kingdom of Heaven valuable? Value is subjective, and people have differing value systems. Is the kingdom of heaven included in yours?
The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like Treasure Hidden In A Field
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44).
Great value can be located in strange places.
A legend within our family is of a distrustful old man hiding tens of thousands of dollars to be reclaimed after his death – in a rickety, old chicken-coop.
I once had a friend who alerted our youth group huddled in the basement of our church, that thieves had just made off with his car – right from the chapel parking lot! We all chuckled wondering who would be sufficiently desperate to steal such a dilapidated automobile. But we better understood his grave concern, when he disclosed that the only copy of the unfinished manuscript of his Master’s thesis on which he had spent months of labour, was in the trunk of that stolen car.
Value Is Subjective
Certainly, great value can be located in strange places.
And value is also subjective.
I can predict with great confidence that if offered a choice between of the product of the great Dutch painter Rembrandt, or the great American hamburger mogul McDonald my grand-kids would choose McDonald’s every time.
If you had 30 seconds to enter your burning home to salvage only one item – what would you take?
God’s Value System
We understand from the teachings of Jesus that God too, has a value system. The entirety of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels could be distilled down into His explaining, warning that mankind’s system of values does not align with God’s.
His classification of what is significant and highly prized is fundamentally different from ours.
He values humility; we esteem swagger.
He values our recognition of reliance and dependence. We admire rugged, self-made individuality and the ability to fly solo.
He values selfless submission. We honour self-governing independence.
He values mercy. But when it comes to my rights, I value justice.
Our problem is that we were born with a distorted value system. Our default setting needs to be radically corrected.
The Kingdom Of Heaven Is A Treasure
In the first of 2 parables taught only to His disciples, Jesus explains, “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” (Matthew 13:44).
Israel was a land that was very familiar with conflict and war. Therefore, when uncertainty and insecurity loomed or when men were called away to war, family valuables and treasure would be buried with the anticipation of recovering the items when the threat had run its course and the normal rhythms of life returned. Occasionally, someone discovered treasure that had been left by someone who hadn’t returned.
In this analogy, the person finding the treasure urgently moves to negotiate the purchase of the field. His friends – and the seller – are surprised at the sudden interest in the real estate. Why the abrupt concern? What they don’t know is precisely what drives the finder: a burning passion to possess the treasure.
The Kingdom Of Heaven Is Like A Pearl
The second parable has a similar outcome and motivation, but rather than stumbling on a treasure, this man is deliberately, intentionally surveying items of value brought to the surface from the floor of the Mediterranean: “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” (Matthew 13:45,46).
These 2 stories were told by Christ to explain something of the Kingdom and its colossal worth in the Father’s economy.
But in the context of the Gospels, the clear inference is this: of all, the Son is most highly cherished.
There is nothing that even remotely begins to approach the worth His Father places on Him.
So I have to ask myself: does my value system in any way reflect that of the Lord? Is there an evolution in the things I treasure to more closely mirror what He esteems as valuable?
The Lord Jesus posed a powerful observation: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 13:21). It forms the basis of a great self-diagnostic question: where is my heart, my passion? What do I think about when I can put my mind to anything at all?
May we be disciples of Christ who daily embrace the truth of His command: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
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Images Courtesy of:
Pearl – moritz320
Chicken Coop- giallopudding
Treasure Chest- annca
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