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THE PARABLE OF THE HIDDEN TREASURE

This parable forces us to think about how important or valuable is God's Kingdom to us.

Where does God's Kingdom come in our priority list? What would we give in order to belong to God's Kingdom? What would we be willing to lose in order to gain citizenship in his Kingdom?

Here Jesus tells of a man who found a hidden treasure in a field. In order to possess the treasure he sold everything he had and purchased the field.

Similarly, a merchant looking for pearls found one exceedingly valuable; he went and sold everything he had in order to purchase this expensive pearl.

That, says, Jesus, is what the Kingdom of God is like. That is how it should rank on our priority list: that we desire to belong to God's Kingdom far more than we desire anything else; that we value it far more than anything else in the whole world. That, in order to belong to this Kingdom, we would give up everything we have, if that was the way to gain it.

Is Jesus telling us all that we should go and sell our possessions, and that we can, with money, buy our way into his Kingdom? No. It cannot be bought with wealth.

But there is something we humans value, that we cling to with grasping hands: our independence, our self-importance, our personal list of merit. We think that by ourselves, on the basis of our own efforts, we can earn our way into the Kingdom of God.

Not so. The Pharisee in Luke 18 grasped his precious list of merits, marched boldly into the presence of God, and recited these merits to God, but he could not on that basis enter the Kingdom. The tax-collector gave up his self-conceit, self-importance, self-merit: freely admitting himself a sinner he cast himself on the mercy of God, and gained the Kingdom.

In the same way Paul, listing all of the religious merits that he had previously treasured, stated that he now considered them 'dung' - in order to gain entry into the Kingdom through the righteousness of Christ.

This righteousness of Christ, credited to those who have faith in him, is the hidden treasure; this righteousness of Christ, by which we are acquitted of all of our personal guilt, is the pearl of great price. To have this hidden treasure, to gain this precious pearl, is the ultimate in wealth: the spiritual wealth of admittance into the kingdom of God, the incredible and unexpected right of entry into God's presence, granted not on the basis of personal merit, but on the basis of the perfect life and substitutionary sin-bearing death of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

To gain this hidden treasure, to possess this pearl of great price, we must give up all we have: not our material wealth, but our perceived list of personal merit. To gain this hidden treasure, this precious pearl, we must come to God having discarded our religious resume, acknowledging it as worthless, and stand with empty hands before him, ready to receive from him the full and free acquittal which we do not deserve.

Scriptures: Matthew 13:44-46; Luke 18:9-14; Philippians 3:1-9.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004, 2010