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Eternity 123 - The Treasure In The Field

(Matthew 13:44 NKJV) "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Here in the Philippines treasure-hunting is a national past-time especially the hunt for a vast store of Japanese gold known as "Yamashita's treasure". Legend has it that during WW2 General Yamashita amassed a huge hoard of gold that he had to leave in the Philippines after his defeat by the Allies. This legend has seen thousands of treasure seekers come here and even given rise to a National Geographic TV special called "Yamashita's Gold".

These treasure-seekers mount huge and costly expeditions, run out of money, and go home - often without finding even a single gold bar. Small treasure finds here and there and bogus maps written in Japanese keep the industry going. Hope springs eternal among the seekers of Yamashita's gold. This is because people think that gold is something worth searching for, and putting great effort into. The treasure is worth "giving all" for.

There is a constant theme in the Gospels - that the Kingdom is something we should "give all for". It comes up here and in the next parable - about the pearl of great price. The story of the rich young ruler, the call of the disciples and in Peter's observation " Lord we have given up all to follow you..". Most of all it becomes clear in the cross. Jesus "gave up all for us so that we might give up all for Him. But its not just giving up - there is a bountiful receiving, Peter gets a hundredfold, the rich young ruler would have got treasure in Heaven, the man finds a hidden treasure, the merchant gets the pearl, and Jesus gets "the name that is above every name" ((Philippians 2:5-11).

Its never sacrifice just for the sake of sacrifice. There is always an abundant reward and they "go home rejoicing". In the end it is always "worth it". Thus the Christian faith is neither ascetic or masochistically sacrificial, in fact Jesus put an end to sacrifice! The cry of the Christian is "Abba, father" not "more pain please". Christians rejoice in their sufferings - because properly endured they will bring a great reward, not because pain itself is desirable. In fact in Heaven there will be "no more crying, or sorrow, or pain".

Yet while the Kingdom is indeed "righteousness, peace ad joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17) it does have a short-term cost, it is the "narrow gate" and we may have to "give all" in the short-term in order to rejoice in the long-term. Jesus, "for the joy set before HIm" endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). So we have the equation "sell all you have and give" = " and you shall have treasure in heaven". First the high cost, then the abundant reward.

Now the pain does not "earn" the reward. The sheer effort of digging does not "earn" the treasure as a wage, rather digging is simply the means of discovering a huge gracious bounty. There is no correlation between effort and reward. Some may dig only a few feet and find a million dollars, others may search for years and find nothing. The treasure is always " a find", a "discovery" not a wage. The Kingdom is always of grace, but sometimes grace must be searched out.

Modern Christians want grace on a plate. There is little sense of having to search and dig and diligently uncover grace. Few people put real effort into reading the Bible, studying theology, travailing in prayer or persisting in good works. The same people who will excitedly line up for an hour for a sale at Christmas will consider it tedious to read three chapters of Scripture.

We need to get excited about our faith and to treasure it, to seek Christ with diligence and to dig for grace and truth. The whole idea of Christ as a priceless treasure and of the enormous value of our heavenly reward has been disparaged by the "cultured despisers" of Christianity and we have believed them! We have lost the deeper reaches of grace because they require earnest seeking and we have no concept that such costly seeking has any real value. After all "we are saved". Saves yes, but poverty-stricken in spiritual terms. In this light I'll end this study by quoting what Jesus said about the need of the Laodiceans to "buy gold refined by fire":

(Revelation 3:14-22 NKJV) "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: {15} "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. {16} "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. {17} "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'; and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; {18} "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. {19} "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. {20} "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. {21} "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. {22} "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'