Matthew, Mark and Luke record fifty of Jesus’ beloved parables, stories told to teach important Kingdom truth. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), The Prodigal Son (Luke 11-32), The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:10-14), Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16), and the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) are just a few. One of the shortest parables, and one of my favorites, is the Parable of the Hidden Treasure.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). That’s it. Just one verse.
Most theologians and Bible commentators agree that the meaning is obvious. The treasure is the Gospel, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone.
Remember, banks in the first century weren’t FDIC insured. Retirement accounts, 401K plans, and certificates of deposit were most often a small herd of sheep, a few oxen, or a few coins. Safe deposit boxes were wooden boxes or leather pouches slid under the bed or hidden. A favorite way to secure a treasure was to bury it in the back yard or in a secluded field.
Perhaps the treasure Jesus spoke of belonged to a man who had died long before. The field had been sold, and maybe resold. Nobody knew that the treasure existed. It was long-forgotten.
I can imagine that as the unnamed man was walking through the field, he was kicking rocks and dirt clods, until he struck something that made an odd sound. Clunk!
Curious, the traveler stopped to examine his findings. Maybe it was a small wooden box, buried in the sandy soil. Dropping to his knees, he freed the box from its burial site. Opening it, he found an astonishing treasure. I imagine shiny gold coins spilling out onto the ground.
Looking around to see if anyone was watching, he quickly secured the box, dug the whole deeper, and buried the treasure chest, tamping down the dirt. He must have made a mental note of the treasure’s exact location. Due west of the wild olive tree and north of the jagged boulder… “Then in his joy he” sold all of his possessions and purchased “that field” (Matthew 13:44).
Like the treasure, life in Christ is more valuable than anything! Our salvation is priceless! We should sacrifice all that we have to follow Jesus. Our possessions, our positions, our pleasures become meaningless when compared to eternal life in heaven. Right?
But hold on. There’s another possible interpretation of this kingdom parable. Maybe the story doesn’t depict us as the traveler. Maybe Jesus is the traveler and lost mankind is the treasure. I’m the treasure. You’re the treasure. Once lost, forgotten, alone, now purchased by the blood of the Lamb!
Jesus “has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Having found us, Jesus sold everything. He left heaven’s throne room and “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).
We’re Christ’s dearly-loved treasure … and that’s a beautiful picture of grace!