Matt. 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Jesus gives several parables in a row regarding the kingdom of heaven. It was not unusual for people to bury their money somewhere on their land for safekeeping. Within the last 12 months there have been three major discoveries of caches of ancient Roman coins. These were treasures of 3000-4000 coins from the Roman era. That’s why this parable spoke to the people of Jesus’ day because they understood that throughout history people had hidden their treasures in fields. If you knew that a field contained 3000 ancient Roman coins, you would sell everything that you owned just to buy that field.
The kingdom of heaven is so much more than a treasure of Roman coins. Just as someone is not sad to give up their measly personal belongings to purchase a field with Roman coins, so giving up what we have now in comparison to the kingdom is also nothing. The kingdom is of such great value that we are joyful, almost giddy, to give up what we had before, just so that we can enjoy new life in the kingdom, for this is the best thing ever!
Treasure buried in a field for future consumption is called a hoard. It was a common practice and, in case you are curious, you can see a list of Roman hoards found in Great Britain alone here.
People regularly buried their goods in anticipation of finding them at a later date and using them.
We can find ourselves all over this parable. There are plenty of us these days who are hoarders, so much so, that there are even television shows about people who are hoarders! Somehow we find comfort in collecting stuff — to the extent that the stuff overtakes our lives. It’s similar to investing in something that we are willing to put into the ground in hopes that we will dig it up some day and find it useful. Considering the fact that over 1200 hoards of Roman era goods have been found in Great Britain alone — it seems that plenty of people never got to use their hoards. The things that they thought were precious remained buried in the ground for hundreds, if not more than a thousand years.
Jesus reminds us to store up our treasure in heaven. The heavenly kingdom is eternal and everything in this world pales in comparison. It really is the best thing ever!
Giving up the things of this world should not be a sad or mournful endeavor. If that is the case, then somehow we are not comprehending the beauty of the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is of such great value that we willingly and joyful give up what we have and take ownership as citizens of the kingdom. Our problem is that we fail to understand that eternal life in the kingdom is far better than anything we can imagine now. At this point we only have a little foretaste of the fullness of the kingdom. It’s like digging for buried treasure and finding just one or two coins. We are excited about it and we purchase the field in anticipation of locating the entire hoard. Life in the kingdom will eventually lead to the entire treasure and it will be better than anything we could ever begin to imagine. Jesus is inviting us into this space, giving us a glimpse of what lies ahead and providing for us citizenship in the heavenly kingdom. It really is the best thing ever.
Lord, thank you for eternal treasure, far greater than anything we can imagine. Amen.
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