As we grapple with how the life of the church is going to look like in the months ahead, we are offered from the lectionary a portion of Matthew’s gospel which explains what the kingdom of heaven looks like. In chapter 13: 31-33, and 44-52 Jesus gives four insights into what the kingdom of heaven is like.
In the parable of the mustard seed (31 & 32) the suggestion is that the kingdom of heaven may well start with small beginnings, but it will lead onto significant outcomes.
In the parable of the yeast (33) Jesus points out that the kingdom of heaven should be added into the world, and when it is the kingdom principles and action infiltrates and influences everything around it.
In the parable of the net (47-52) Jesus highlights that there are 2 kingdoms, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of hell and there will be a time of separation which should be the motivation that drives us on to be involved in showing and sharing what the kingdom of heaven is like and offering people the chance to respond and join us in the kingdom.
In verses 44-46 Jesus explains that the kingdom of heaven is like hidden treasure and a pearl.
Matthew 13:44-46 44“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. 45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
I would like to share 3 thoughts around these parables.
STUMBLED UPON OR SOUGHT AFTER. Jesus is explaining that the kingdom of heaven can be found in either of two ways. We can stumble across it or we can actively seek after the kingdom. The man finds treasure hidden in a field; the merchant is seeking. The church is made up of those who came across Jesus without deliberately trying to find him whilst others felt something missing in their life and sought out the meaning to life and found it in Jesus. The next time we are able to meet in church I will not insist on those who stumbled into the kingdom have to sit on the right and those who searched and found sit on the left. How we came across the kingdom is irrelevant the fact that we recognised the kingdom is all that matters.
SEE THE VALUE. The second point Jesus makes is that both men understand the value of what it is that they had found. The kingdom of heaven is treasure that is worth having. The television programme Antiques Roadshow main concern is finding out what an item is worth. Some people are disappointed when the valuation offered is low, others are amazed to find out how much their possession is worth. How do you value the kingdom of heaven? Are you disappointed or amazed at what it means to you?
Thirdly: SELL ALL YOU HAVE, both the man and the merchant found the treasure, recognised its worth and responded by giving up everything they had in order to obtain the prize. It suggests that joining the kingdom requires giving up the old way of living to embrace the new. It appears you cannot have a foot in both camps, the men saw that to gain the full worth of the treasure it had to be all or nothing.
I find it incredible to think that the kingdom of heaven, by God’s grace has been made available to us.
What we need to consider is a) have we found the kingdom b) do we appreciate its value, and c) are we willing to sacrificially pay the price of entering into the kingdom?