The Kingdom of Heaven (part four)

Week 58 | Sections 64 h,i,j,k

White House Inn, VermontNo doubt you’re presently on some kind of quest – searching or yearning for something. Perhaps its for something material, an adventure, or a better job; or perhaps its for something more significant such as a companion, love, forgiveness – but whatever kind of treasure you’ve been giving it your all, or day and night its been consuming your thoughts. In this age Jesus’ words are as poignant as the shovel with which one man hid in a field. Where is your treasure?


Section 64h | Matthew 13:44
44 “Again,1 the Kingdom of Heaven2 is like treasure3 hidden in the field, which a man found,4¯5 and hid. In his joy,6 he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.7

Section 64i | Matthew 13:45-46
45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a merchant seeking8 fine pearls,9 46 who having found one pearl of great price,10 he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.11

Section 64j | Matthew 13:47-50
47 “Again,12 the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet, that was cast into the sea, and gathered some fish of every kind, 48 which, when it was filled, they drew up on the beach. They sat down, and gathered the good into containers, but the bad they threw away.13 49 So will it be in the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.”

Section 64k | Matthew 13:51-53
51 Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?” They answered him, “Yes, Lord.”14 52 He said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been made a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a householder, who brings out of his treasure new and old things.”15 53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he departed from there.16

Group Dialog:

  1. Have you ever dreamed of discovering a hidden treasure, time capsule, or an undiscovered artifact of great worth?
  2. What makes His Kingdom so valuable, so priceless?
  3. Can a person experience the full joy of such a treasure without surrendering to the Lordship of Christ? Can they experience part of the joy? If it would be possible, what might be lost in the shuffle between two kingdoms?
  4. After Jesus death the Holy Spirit was sent to infill and guide the disciples. Share some of your recent experiences of being guided by the Holy Spirit and surrender to the Lordship of Christ in your life?

Learning Objectives: surrender all, recognize Christ worth, spiritual aspiration, materialism, treasures, desire of your heart, life purpose, integrity, fulfillment of the Gospel, grace on the cross, victory in the resurrection, Lordship of Christ, working in the kingdom of God.

Photo: At the White House Inn, Vermont for a family wedding Sept-2012.

Study Notes:

  1. These are the final three parables which Jesus had delivered them the same sitting (see all of Section 64).
  2. The “kingdom of heaven” occurs 32 times in the Gospel of Matthew (exclusively) while the phrase “kingdom of God” occurs 68 times in the New Testament. The two can be interchangeable meaning both in this life and the next. Some scholars teach that this use of the “kingdom of heaven” refers here not to our eternal destination of heaven, but the Christian-life – that is the Gospel-centered life which began for these disciples who met Jesus (the treasure) and in leaving all (Luke 5:11) to “have him” (believe, follow, honor him) discovered a peace which passes all understanding (Phil 4:7), and joy greater than that which could be gained in any and all of the earthly treasures together. One realm or the other “the kingdom” is a domain in which God is King, and His will supreme and sovereign (Matt 6:10). This is the amazing good news which is so different than the oppression, darkness, and meandering, which besets us before we experience the grace, standard, and freedom that is our in Christ. Upon finding such a treasure in this life, there is no reason anyone would not return to uncover it, see it in all its glory, and enjoy it throughout the remainder of their life. In the case of Christ, this is a lifelong pleasure that does not end with this life, but continues even after we enter our eternal home, heaven itself. As Alexander MacLaren (renown expositor, preacher, pastor 1826-1910) wrote, “That treasure is the only one that meets our deepest poverty.”
  3. The oldest coin discovered thus far is from 2,700 years ago. The stater found in Efesos (Ephesus) an ancient Hellenic trading center on the coast of Asia Minor had been minted in Lydia (610-560BC), had an image of a lion which was hand-struck on one side and made of electrum.
  4. Coins and treasures such as jewelry, pearls, and precious gems, were often buried in fields when upon news of a conquering tribe or nation reached the family with something of value. They would bury it there on their settlement/property to escape without burden, and with sincere hopes that they would return and resume there life in comfort. Treasures and special jewelry were also buried in the graces of loved ones who had died.
  5. In 2013 a California couple found $10 million in rare 19C gold coins buried in cans on their property. Here are even more stories of discovered treasures.
  6. When a person finally discovers the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s grace, and the life offered us through Christ – its life changing. Discovering Jesus and all that He came to offer us is the greatest discovery that people can make because it meets our every need! And with that discovery comes a new Kingdom lifestyle, an allegiance to God bot to earn favor but to celebrate what has been discovered, given, received. On the cross grace was extended to all of humanity, and in the resurrection Jesus conquered/defeated the power of death (the strongest force of the Devil). Another great benefit is that we become part of God’s family, and heirs of his eternal Kingdom (Rom 8:17, 2Pet 1:10-11). The classic spiritual, “Steal away to Jesus” calls to our deepest yearning for freedom from tyrants and devils which beset us, to cling to Jesus in this life and rejoice with him for all eternity when that time comes.
  7. Like Moses, who considered following the ways of the Creator who spoke to him of more worth than that which he had in Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-26). Paul felt the same (Philippians 3:7-9), read also Isaiah 55:1, Song of Solomon 2:16, Matt 6:19-24, 2 Corinthians 5:15-20, and Rev 3:17.
  8. In the first of today’s parables, the man unintentionally discovers a treasure, yet in this parable it is found by the one seeking the treasure. There are among us those who are seeking and other who are living life day by day, seemingly unaware of their spiritual aspirations and the yearning of their heart. Aware or not, we are prone to satisfy our desires with temporal things, and pleasures. So Jesus offers the disciples a third parable to help them fix their eyes on the eternal realm while the give themselves fully to the sacrament of this present moment. Perhaps the first parable resonated for Matthew the tax collector and this second one resonated more within the minds of those disciples who were first fishermen who would have seen pearls from the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean in the markets of Capernaum from vendors who traveled the trade routes of that day.
  9. The worlds largest natural, near-spherical, saltwater, nacreous pearl was auctioned by Woolley & Wallis on May 1st, 2014 for a staggering £811,000 equivalent to US$ 1,368,075
  10. Read also: Proverbs 8:18-20; Proverbs 16:16, Colossians 2:3, 1Tim 2:9
  11. This parable recorded only by Matthew (written to resonate within the hearts and minds of Jewish readers) resounds of Hebraic monotheistic theocracy (Deut 6:4). Yet “godly pearls” of wisdom, holiness, and truth satisfy the most curious and astute minds. Whether Jew or Gentile this one pearl is greater than the plurality of gods, wisdom, and other treasures. Ultimately we must be willing to surrender all and follow Jesus (Luke 14:33).
  12. Now in this third parable for the day Jesus focuses his lesson not on the “getting” but the “gotten” and the work of those in the kingdom (Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:15 | Section 181) clarified in 2Cor 5:11-21 as the ministry of reconciliation. Read also 1Pet 5:1-3.
  13. a similitude to the wheat and darnel weeds to which we spoke of last week.
  14. Jesus was testing the understanding of his newly appointed apostles (Week 40 | Section 53). It was not a harsh question, but one which invited the apostles to ask for more teaching and understanding. Unlearned as they were, together they would be his successors entrusted with the Gospel (the pearl) and the new covenant, and an order which had no master or head but Jesus (Eph 4:11-12, Jer 13:15, 2Tim 4:5, Eph 3:5, 1Cor 12:28-31, Rom 10:14-15, Rom 12). Remember the words of the BCP in the Holy Eucharist “the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation.”  and the assurance of Scripture that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. 
  15. In the words of Tim Keller, “Pursue godliness, cultivate fruitfulness, work diligently, trust completely, and preach confidently.” Read also: Mat 5:17-20, Prov 8:36, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, Heb 2:10-18
  16. We will see in next weeks lesson that it would be a long night – one which would test his patience and the faith and understanding of the apostles even more.

By Greg Troxell

Disciple, entrepreneur and catalytic leader. Advocate of the sharing economy. Ministering to youth, new Christians, and equipping the saints. Developing the Emotivational practice. Founder of