by Rev. Dr. Cecelia Walker
Director, Pastoral Care
Princeton Baptist Medical Center
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
What is heaven like? A curious child might ask this question after hearing a Sunday school lesson about heaven. In the midst of grief, a person might consider a similar question as she or he reflects on the loss of a loved one. Whatever the context, I imagine most of us have asked or been asked this question at some point in our lives.
In Matthew 13:36, the Bible tells us that Jesus spoke to His disciples away from the crowd. His intent was not to conceal but to reveal further secrets about the kingdom. The parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value are a set of similes, which make similar points: the kingdom of God is worth all a person has…it is expensive. It cost everything the disciples possessed. Remember they had left all to follow Jesus. However, the joy of discipleship overpowered every worldly hindrance…the same is true for us today.
As we go through life we will make many discoveries, but there is nothing that compares to being a part of God’s kingdom. There is nothing more valuable than being in the will of God and being a part of the body of Christ. Jesus teaches us to count the cost, which often requires giving up our plans.
We have no more fundamental task in life than facing up to the fact that out of the plethora of options laid out before us, we must choose those that are of eternal consequence. We can pay too much, confusing something that has temporary value with something that is of eternal value. Or we can recognize the real, the good and the truly valuable, and organize our lives around what is of ultimate worth. It is to that end that Jesus told this parable.
Noted author and Baptist minister the Rev. Carlyle Marney is quoted as saying: “there is no agony in life more acute than that experienced when we realize we have paid too much.”. What a shame it would be to focus our energy, time and money on external and temporary things and experience the ultimate buyer’s remorse… we have spent too much on the wrong things!
Dear God, we release our hopes and dreams to You. If we are longing for anything that is not to be a part of our lives, we ask that You remove the desire for it so the treasures You have planned can be released in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.