In Matthew 13 our Lord uses parables to teach about how the kingdom of heaven operates. In vv44-46 we come to the parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price. And as we come to them we have to ask: “What do these parables teach us about the kingdom of heaven?” If you look at bible commentaries regarding you will find differing perspectives. There are those who say that the parables teach us how Christ loved the church so much that He gave His all so as to obtain the church for Himself. Others say that these parables refer to how an individual should view salvation. Each person should view the salvation of God as being so important that they are willing to give up everything in order to obtain it. With these differing perspectives we can be left feeling perplexed as what really is the teaching. However, I suggest, that there is no need to choose. This is because the parables are both teaching the same essential truth. That truth is total commitment.
In looking at the passage we need to remember that the key thought concerns what the kingdom of heaven is like. Both parables are introduced by the phrase “The kingdom of heaven is like” (see v44a and v45a). Also both conclude with the same thought, namely that of selling all in order to obtain the desired possession. The man who bought the field and the man who bought the pearl both sold all in order to obtain what they yearned for. Both parables therefore teach that in the kingdom of heaven there is commitment, zeal, devotion, self-sacrifice and passion. These characteristics are displayed by the person in order to obtain what the person wants.
This teaching accordingly is applicable for both the attitude of our Lord Jesus giving Himself for His people and the individual obtaining salvation. They both involve the display of the same phenomena which can be summed up in the term passionate commitment. This is what the kingdom of heaven is like. Accordingly if someone is lacking zeal for God, passion for Jesus Christ the Lord, devotion to The Word, passionate interest in salvation and commitment to the church then that person is not a kingdom of heaven person. So each of us must ask ourselves: “Am I displaying, through my commitment to all that belongs to God, that I am a kingdom of heaven person?”
However, I do not want to hasten on too quickly in looking at out involvement in the kingdom of heaven. Rather we must stop and consider how our Lord Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of what it is to show commitment. We will never be able to fathom the depths of a statement like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph. 5:25b). Here is One giving His life for the benefit of others. Here is One securing eternal life and blessing for others by giving, NOT a vast amount of money, but His own self. Here is passion, zeal and commitment like no other. But further we can ponder upon the zeal of the Lord for the glory of God and the honour of His cause. Prophetically we read of Him in Psalm 69:9a saying that zeal for your house consumes me. Oh what passion He had and still has for the cause of God and the benefit of His people.
But why do we have two parables here that teach essentially the same thing? I suggest that the two are developed in order to give two lessons about commitment.
The parable of the treasure in the field shows how wisdom operates in the midst of total commitment to God’s ways. The man here seems to stumble across the treasure. This was not unreasonable given that in those days there were no banks and people often stored their precious possessions by burying them in the ground. When he finds it he buries it again. If he had gone off with it he would have stolen it. If he had told others about it then that land would have an inflated value. So he goes and obtains the field and all that is in it (and that includes the treasure) at the best price; a price that is within the extent of his resources. He did this because he wanted that treasure. He knew the level of his resources and he gave all, but he did not give more than his resources.
Wisdom necessitates that we each are committed to the level that is appropriate for ourselves. To over-commit is to destroy ourselves in obtaining the treasure. The kingdom of heaven is a place of full commitment, but not over-commitment. To over-commit can lead to us ruining ourselves. Each of us must know ourselves in this.
However, in case we move towards under-commitment because of the danger of over-commitment which has emerged through understanding the parable of the treasure in the field, the parable of the pearl of great price underlines that total commitment is vital, even normal, in the kingdom of God. Here is a very wealthy man who gives all. Here is a man who has a large capacity for commitment, but he does not hold back anything. He gives the whole lot. In the kingdom of heaven under-commitment is not an option. Even for those who have a big capacity to give. They give the lot.
Let us then be thoughtful about the issue of commitment. Are we displaying in our lives the characteristics which show that we want to be with the Lord and in His ways? If we are half-hearted we are likely showing that we are not kingdom of heaven people and that is serious.
But does this commitment lead to joyless drudgery? No, not at all. We read concerning that the man found the treasure in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field (v44b). Commitment in the kingdom of heaven leads to joy. Do we miss out on so much delight in God and His ways because of our lack of commitment. And finally we remember our Saviour who for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2b).
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of May 2016)