‘X’ marks the spot: Giving up everything to find priceless treasure

One of stories Jesus tells in Matthew 13 focuses on a man who found hidden treasure.

What comes to mind when you think of the word treasure?

Maybe you see images of Captain Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl in search of gold. Follow the map because “X” marks the spot.

Or, is it the stories of treasures hunters trying to find that which is lost — maybe, the “Curse of Oak Island” and its famed “money pit.”

Maybe for you, treasure is found on “Antiques Road Show” or “Pawn Stars”, where ordinary folks discover what their unique items are worth. Hey, I’ll call my buddy to come on down and take a look at what you’ve brought in!

Or, maybe, treasure is found in a game such as Fortnite where you’re trying to get what is necessary to win the game.

In any case, there’s probably a good chance that you’ve been on a treasure hunt at some point in your life. We keep telling ourselves that if we just keep looking, we might find something.

What if there’s something deeper and spiritual about searching for treasure that we ever realized? Jesus talks about finding treasure in scripture and ties it to the idea of the Kingdom of God.

A Treasure-hunting Story

In Chapter 13 of Matthew (one of the four books of the Bible that make up the Gospels or Good News of Jesus), we find someone who finds the “X” on the treasure map. It’s part of a series of parables (stories with deeper meaning) that Jesus tells us about the Kingdom of God. Here’s one of those stories:

“The Kingdom of God 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.”

Matthew 13:44 (NIV)

Breaking Down the Scripture

To understand this verse, let’s take it one piece at a time:

  • The Kingdom of God is like:” Jesus uses “heaven is like” or the “Kingdom of God is like” to describe this idea of Heaven/Kingdom of God (Use them interchangeably). Maybe it’s because there’s really no way for us truly knowing what heaven is like unless we try to compare it to something we know. As Jesus is describing, and as the Gospels present, the Kingdom of God is a “right now” and a “not yet.” Christ-followers live in the “right now” in the Kingdom and there’s a future part that we do not yet see — that time when God fulfills all the promises we are living into as followers.
  • “A treasure hidden in a field:” As a child, and sometimes still now, I searched for treasure in the fields near my house. I would sometimes find arrowheads or pieces of broken pottery. And, I was always in search of the treasure chest — the big prize. This part of the story implies a few things:
    • There is something of value in the field.
    • Someone purposely placed this treasure here at some point — “hidden in a field.” Yet, somehow, it is still here — abandoned.
    • Jesus only says “treasure” and what we call treasure is, often, in the eye of the beholder.
  • “When a man found it:” Was this man out looking for something or did he happen to come upon it in his walk? Maybe, he was walking and he saw a reflection of light in the distance and decided to investigate. However it happened, this man found something that was hidden (maybe even lost).
  • “He hid it again:” You could spend a lot of time in parables chasing rabbits and completely miss the point of what Jesus is trying to say. So, we’ll simply say that the man put this back the way he found it.
  • “and then, in his joy, went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Again, there are many rabbits that we could chase and we would lose the point of the parable. In this case, Jesus says that his man joyfully gives up everything he owns (call that a sacrifice) and goes, not to buy the treasure, but to buy the land where the treasure is found.

What is this treasure?

Taken on face value, we could assume from this verse that the treasure does, indeed, have great value. The value is so great that person would, happily, give up everything he or she owns in exchange for this “treasure.” When we take this parable in the bigger context of Matthew 13, Jesus is telling us that “Heaven” or the “Kingdom of God” is that which is lost and found. Ultimately, we would say that Jesus is the treasure that gives us the chance to be a part of the Kingdom “right now” and in the “not yet.”

Maybe, sometimes, the biggest struggle for us can be giving up what we currently see to grab a treasure that we can’t fully see or understand. In that sense, Jesus is presenting us a story of a treasure hunt that ends in a man exercising both faith and hope.

It brings up what can be a challenging and troubling question. Are we really willing to give up everything, joyfully, in exchange for the Kingdom of God?

ReigniteMyStory.com is based on the idea that every life story can be reignited when we reset it, renew it and redeem it.  You can contact me with ideas, questions or suggestions at reignitemystory@gmail.com or by following me on Twitter at @reignitemystory.

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