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. Matthew 13:44-46
In February 2013, while walking their dog on their land in California, John and Mary saw an old, rusted can sticking out of the ground. John pried the heavy can loose and managed to carry it back to their house, where they discovered that it was filled with gold coins. He and his wife went back to the same site where they eventually unearthed eight cans containing coins with an estimated value of $10 million dollars. Known as the Saddle Ridge Hoard, this find is considered the largest recovery of buried gold coins in the history of the United States.
Imagine for a moment the shock and elation as they discovered the contents of that first can. Not surprisingly, they canceled any plans they might have had for the foreseeable future in order to go back and explore the rest of their land. John and Mary’s story could be a modern version of the parable Jesus told his followers comparing the kingdom of God to treasure in a field. The man in the parable joyfully sells all he has in order to buy the whole field.
Then Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a merchant in search of fine pearls. The merchant, seeking and searching, finds the pearl of great value and sells everything to have it. In both parables, the protagonist “sold all that he had” to take possession of the treasure. Both parables say that life in the kingdom of God is so important, of such enormous value, that we should be willing to be sold out in order to live that life. This is about deep and costly commitment to Jesus.
In his classic work The Cost of Discipleship, 20th century pastor and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him…. Death in Jesus Christ [is] the death of the old man [i.e., the old self ] at his call.”
PONDER: What in your life might you have to “sell” or surrender to experience God more fully?
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• A DEEP AND COSTLY COMMITMENT •
When the MacKinney family arrived in rural Nepal in 1993, the village they would call home experienced an average of one death per day. After building a 40-bed mission hospital and developing a community health program, the rate dropped to less than one death per month. The MacKinney family lived in a modified village house of stone and mud. The MacKinney family faced the same survival struggles as the people they served. At the start, Dr. MacKinney practiced medicine under a tree with the help of one nurse. As he established trust with the villagers, they converted a home into a temporary clinic and eventually began to see 100 patients a day. The MacKinneys were able to share the hope they had in Jesus with the villagers. Their babysitter, a daughter of the witch doctor, became the first woman to believe in Jesus. There were no believers there in 1993— today there is a thriving church of 200.
While not glamorous, this path continues to be rewarding and significant to the many people they have helped. The hospital they founded today meets the needs of thousands each year. Ted and Rachel continue to look for the most needy places in this area of the world. They have been making difficult four-to-six week treks into the Himalayas in hopes of establishing a clinic among the Lhomi people where there is currently no medical care. They haul packs filled with medical supplies over challenging terrain, stopping at villages along the way. The MacKinneys are living examples of a deep and costly commitment to Jesus to bring the kingdom to places where no one else will go.
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The news of God’s kingdom is so valuable, it is worth seeking with everything that we are. God has given each of us an opportunity to become treasure hunters. He wants us to come to know him, and that treasure is available to us if we seek it! This parable also warns us that there is a cost for the treasure. Once we come to know God, our lives change. There are things we willingly give up to be sold out for God.
Read Matthew 13:44. Why is the news of God like a treasure? What are things you have given up to follow God? What things hold you back from being completely sold out for God? Spend time asking God to help you put off anything that is holding you back from being completely devoted to him.