The Parables Series #4
TEXT: Matthew 13:44-46
INTRO: Captain Kidd and hidden treasure always excites the imagination of a young boy or girl. The treasure map and the hidden treasure have intrigued the minds and spirits of men and women for centuries. If only someone could find it!
Some have spent their life savings to recover hidden treasures; the excitement of the search and the reward of a find have made some give up a fortune in search of buried treasures somewhere.
Ancient custom back to the time of early man has been to hide wealth; our bank system is relatively a new concept, no banks existed many years ago, instead men would bury their wealth in a field or in their homes ... often when leaving to go to war, sometimes never returning! Today there are many places in the Middle East that still have tremendous amounts of hidden treasures buried because of this ancient practice. The location of these buried treasures often died with their owners, it is not uncommon to see people digging in fields in hopes of finding some of these treasures.
ILLUS: Hidden treasures today are rare. In the ancient biblical lands, however, they were common. Palestine, which was a land bridge between Egypt and the great empires, was repeatedly invaded, ravaged, and captured. Multitudes buried gold. There were no banks. The government, nobility, clergy, and Arab invaders all robbed the common people often and without warning. Because of this, the people quickly buried treasure in the ground, in walls, in tree trunks, or wherever they could. Earthquakes could cover up entire cities and bury gold with them. All kinds of people quickly buried what they had in the face of invasion or political change. They left, they died, they were captured, and no one knew where the treasure was hidden.
W.M. Thompson was a missionary in Syria and Palestine for 30 years. He told of workmen digging up a garden in Sidon. They found several copper pots of gold. They did exactly like the man in the parable-concealed their find with care. But then, wild with joy, they could not keep their mouths shut. The governor of the city caught them, and recovered two of the pots, and it was found that they contained 8,000 pure gold coins of Alexander and his father Philip. Thompson saw hundreds of persons all over the country spending their last pennies looking for such treasure. – Source Unknown
Examples in Scripture of this practice of burying treasure:
Achan buried treasure in his tent floor. Josh. 7:21
Job refers to this practice. Job 3:21,22
Solomon may refer to it in Prov. 2:4
God speaks of it in Isaiah 45:3
Jesus used the idea in the parable of the servant who went and buried his one talent. Matt. 25:18
Examples today: Archeologists today are often hampered when digging in these regions because the local people suspect that these men have found some of these ancient hidden treasures and thus hang around to find it themselves. Also today there are thriving black markets on ancient treasures discovered by people digging around in the Middle East who find these treasure troves.
Once an individual made such a discovery it was not unusual for them to go and sell all they had to buy the land in which the treasure was found, it really was no sacrifice to do so – the treasure in the field was worth far more than the price they paid for the field!
PROP. SENT: The Kingdom of God is like a great treasure, and those who have found it and are willing to give all to receive this treasure will discover that there truly is no sacrifice in giving when they receive so much!
A. "Hidden" Matthew 13:44a
1. Plain ordinary looking field.
a. People often see the kingdom of God this way.
b. Doesn't seem to offer much promise.
c. People don’t see the kingdom of God as that attractive on the surface.
2. Nothing unusual or all that different on the surface from the world.
ILLUS: A small company in the early days of gold mining in South Africa sank shaft after shaft in different locations, finding only a small amount of gold in each shaft. Ultimately, the prospectors discovered that all they needed to have done was to go deeper in the first shaft for, as they did so, they found gold in abundance.
Roy Hession writes that he has found this to be true in the spiritual life also. "I testify that although I have tried all sorts of different shafts, hoping for greater results in my life, Christ has now become the end of all my searching. Revival for me has meant coming back to the place where I first began, and I intend to stay there. Tell me not of any other way. I need to go deeper at His cross-much deeper." – Source Unknown
a. This is what the Bible is like to sinners, on the surface nothing spectacular appears.
b. This is what the church and Christians seem to be like to outsiders also, on the surface nothing that great.
c. You have to “dig” to find the real treasure!
3. One has to look for real treasure!
a. Non valuable stuff can be in the open and on the surface.
b. Valuables are hid -- must be looked for!
c. Stuff of value is deep down.
d. Jesus is saying the Kingdom of God is like this!
B. "Found" Matthew 13:44b
1. Joy for the Discoverer!
a. What a thrill to find hidden treasure! People will use magnetic finders and search through empty fields, how excited when they run across an ancient object! Have you ever seen the treasures some of the people have found with these electronic finders?
b. Promises of a whole new life for the discoverer!
(1. In his mind he envisions a much better life.
(2. A new life of security.
(3. The promises of discovery far out way the risks of finding!
c. Some people spend years and a fortune looking for these buried treasures. To them the time and money are worth the effort.
2. New treasure -- a new future!
a. The discovery changes their lives!
ILLUS: There was a poor woman who earned her living by hard labor but who was a joyous, triumphant Christian. "Ah, Nancy," said a gloomy Christian lady to her one day, "it is well to be happy now, but I should think the thoughts of the future would sober you. Suppose, for instance, you should have a spell of sickness and be unable to work, or suppose your present employer should move away and no one would give you a job. Suppose...." "Stop!" cried Nancy. "I never suppose. The Lord is my Shepherd, and I know I shall not want. You know, dear, it is all those supposes that are making you so miserable. You had better give them all up and just trust the Lord." – Source Unknown
b. The old treasures brought a new way of life for those who kept digging and discovered them!
C. "Sold Out" Matthew 13:44c
1. What I have already is nothing compared to the new treasures I've found.
a. Notice the attitude of sacrifice when he discovered what kind of treasure he had found! “and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (underline mine for emphasis)
b. The idea of sacrificing was done with great joy because the man knew what he was getting … something so great and wonderful that no sacrifice was too much to secure it.
c. He was downright joyous over the price-tag of this plot of land, for he knew what treasure it contained. This is also true with the kingdom of God.
2. No sacrifice in God's kingdom!
a. What we receive can’t be compared to what we give!
ILLUS: A merchant was asked to contribute to a certain piece of church work. He gladly wrote a $250 check and gave it to the solicitor. At that moment, a cablegram was brought in. The merchant read it and looked troubled. "This cablegram," he said, "tells me that one of my ships has been wrecked and the cargo lost. That makes a difference in my business. I will have to write you another check."
The solicitor thought he understood and handed back the check for $250, and the merchant wrote out another and gave it to him. When the solicitor read it, he was utterly amazed; it was for $1,000. "Have you not made a mistake?" he asked. "No," said the merchant, "I have not made a mistake." Then he added, "To me, that cablegram was a message from my Father in Heaven. It reads, 'Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth ... but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal' (Matt 6:19-20)." – Source Unknown
b. No treasure hunter who ever discovered a great treasure felt bad about what he gave up to find that treasure! He didn't even count the cost!
c. What he paid was more than gained in the discovered treasure; we always gain more than what we give up!
(1. In finding Christ ... we may lose our “self” (Selfishness) … but
(2. We gain love and eternal life. (Eternal reward)
(3. We gain a whole new family, Christ’s family.
(4. We become a part of a new kingdom, the kingdom of God!
II. "FINE PEARL!" Matthew 13:45-46
A. "Seeking!" Matthew 13:45
1. The merchant was seeking!
a. Nothing of value is found by those who are not looking!
b. This merchant was looking for fine pearls! He was looking for something valuable.
c. How many people today are truly seeking something valuable, or are they willing to settle for something cheap?
2. You won't discover anything of value if you’re not seeking!
ILLUS: My wife and I will go shopping together; but I will find nothing while she finds all kinds of great values. Why does she find things of value while I find nothing when we shop together? She genuinely is looking for something valuable; on the other hand I hate shopping and am looking to get home!!! She is seeking; I’m just along for the ride reluctantly! – Dennis Marquardt
B. "Great Value!" Matthew 13:46a
1. God's Kingdom is like a pearl of great value!
a. It had value far above anything this man owned!
b. Nothing that belonged to this man even came close to the value of this pearl.
2. Nothing compared to it! Nothing compares to the kingdom of God either!
a. Fraternities or sororities
c. Organizations, etc.
3. When we come across God's kingdom we often can't comprehend what we have found ... its value is so great!
a. It is unfortunate that so many Christians have forgotten how valuable this kingdom is … that it is worth more than anything of value they now possess!
ILLUS: A man gave several thousand dollars to help build a church. Then came the 1929 Stock Market crash. He lost everything. Someone said, "If you had that money you gave to start the church, you would have had enough to set yourself up in business again." He replied, "I would have lost that money, too, in the crash. As it is, it is the only money I saved. It is now in the bank of heaven, yielding interest which will accumulate until eternity." Hundreds have come to Christ through the church he helped build. – Source Unknown
b. We should be willing to sacrifice everything for this kingdom … even with joy! What we get in return in this kingdom is of such greater worth, we can’t even imagine an appropriate sacrifice for gaining it outside of Christ!
C. "Sold Out" Matthew 13:46b
1. Again there is no sacrifice to give in light of what we receive! We gain far more in the exchange!
2. Same is true with God's kingdom and His church.
3. No one in their right mind would hang on to their small wealth if they discovered a great treasure and by giving all they had could purchase something that brought them greater wealth! It is easy to sell out what is worth little to gain everything!
a. What if that attitude prevailed today?
ILLUS: In the second century, a Christian was brought before a pagan ruler and told to renounce his faith. "If you don't do it, I will banish you," threatened the king. The man smiled and answered, "You can't banish me from Christ, for He says, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" To this the king angrily retorted, "Then I will confiscate your property and take all your possessions." Again the man smiled and said, "My treasures are all laid up on high; you cannot get them." The king became furious and shouted, "I will kill you!" "Why," the man answered, "I have been dead forty years; I have been dead with Christ, dead to the world, and my life is hid with Christ in God, and you cannot touch it." In desperation the king turned to his advisers and asked, "What can you do with a fanatic like that?" – Source Unknown
b. What if Christians today thanked God for the sacrifices they got to make in order to have the privileges of the kingdom today?
c. What would the kingdom of God look like today to the world if we lived like this?
d. What would be the appeal to Christianity if Christians today gave the impression to the world that they had great joy in sacrificing for being a Christian?
4. People in the world are attracted to “sold out” events … so they will be attracted to “sold out” Christians also!
CONCLUSION: In God's Kingdom we always gain more than we give away ... a great treasure awaits us in His kingdom ... a treasure that's worth more than everything we have! The Bible is the great treasure map, hid in it is such great wealth!