“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.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
“Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
“Yes,” they replied.
He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
Jesus gives us three pictures of His Kingdom:
The Kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a vacant field. A man happens upon the treasure, so he buries it in the field. Then, joyful that he has found the treasure, he sells everything he owns so that he can buy the field.
The last time you bought a house, did you pay attention to the fine print? You thought you were buying a house, but you were actually buying an improved lot. Your attention was focussed on the house, but legally the house is just an improvement to the land which is the true object of the transaction. The house becomes yours, not so much because you bought it, but because it is located on the lot that you purchased.
So in a sense, everyone among us who is a homeowner has acted out this parable. You saw a house and desired it, so you went out and arranged your finances so that you could buy the lot on which it stood. Then the house became yours.
One time when I bought a house, the lot had some serious drawbacks. The front yard had four maple trees but no grass. The back yard was overgrown, and the previous owner had not cleaned up from her last outdoor barbecue. Nevertheless, that did not deter me. I sold everything I had to buy that plot of land so that I could possess the house that sat upon it. Over the next year or so I re-landscaped the lot. The sad state of the lot was not a consideration for me, because I figured it is easier to re-landscape a lot than to rebuild a house.
Many times we find the treasure of the Kingdom on an unattractive, overgrown, weeded lot. There is a reason why the vacant lot is vacant. No one knows of the treasure, and nothing else makes it attractive to buyers. But it is easier to re-landscape an ugly lot with a valuable treasure than it is to find a prettier lot of equal value.
When you find the heavenly treasure for which you should sell everything you have, don’t count on it being located on choice real estate. Don’t let the weedy, overgrown, undesirable aspects of the vacant lot detract you from the heavenly treasure.
The Kingdom is like a jewelry expert who in the course of his work comes across a pearl of great value. So he sells all he has to buy that pearl.
Every so often in the course of your work you come across a fabulous professional opportunity. When it happens, you generally have to work decisively. Not because the opportunity will expire, but because if you do delay you will have second thoughts, you will get cold feet, and you’ll think of a million excuses not to do it. Also, because the opportunity arises in the course of mundane events, you tend to discount it at the time. Then years later you regret that you neglected it.
Looking back over my life with older and wiser eyes, I can see many missed opportunities. I missed out on several good friendships and a number of job opportunities that I didn’t perceive at the time.
I remember some years ago I had an opportunity for a teaching position which I didn’t pursue because the situation was socially awkward and I don’t work very well in awkward situations. If I had pursued that opportunity when it was present, if I had gambled a bit and purchased that pearl, I could have avoided a lot of hardship that sent me penniless to Washington DC to seek my fortune. I could have been a college professor by now instead of where I am.
Later I stupidly turned down a job offer that would have moved me to Germany, where I have friends. My reasons for turning it down seemed quite sound at the time, but in retrospect they were stupid.
More recently, an Australian man offered me an important position in his company’s U.S. office, but the offer was oblique and took place during a chance encounter and I didn’t realize what an opportunity it was until I had already lost his business card.
So when Jesus comes into my life, I am determined to follow up. I’m tired of lying awake at night regretting what I should have done and wondering what I could have been. Jesus offers me a job opportunity, to be His slave. If I miss out on this one, the night will be longer and the regret will be stronger and the tears will never cease. When you come across the pearl, take the risk. Buy it. Make it your own. Don’t miss out.
The Kingdom is like a net cast out to sea, gathering all sorts of fish. When the fishermen drag it onto shore, they sort out the fish, retaining the good and tossing the bad ones back.
If we are like fish caught in Jesus’ net, it stands to reason that we might have unsavory company; after all, that is how fish nets work. The fish aren’t sorted out until the very end. But if we decide to opt out because the quality of the people around us is not up to our standards, we might miss out on our glorious fate!
Don’t judge the fish around you, and don’t jump out of the net. Keep your eyes on the eternal prize; be patient and wait for Jesus to pluck you out.