Matthew records Jesus explaining the kingdom of heaven in several different parables. The kingdom of heaven is like a field, or a mustard seed, or wheat and tares, or a hidden treasure, or a dragnet, or leaven, or perhaps a very expensive pearl. All of these parables help the reader see some aspect of what the kingdom of heaven is, and this is very important because Jesus has been busy telling the multitudes that the kingdom of heaven has come near, and that even those who mourn and those who are poor in spirit will be welcomed. Now they needed to know – welcomed into what?!
We must really get a grip on the answer to that question as well. If we view the kingdom as some faraway place that we go to when we die, it loses its effect on our everyday reality. It is something far in the future that requires very little of us today. On the contrary, if it is a kingdom that we can be a part of now, if the benefits of citizenship there are available to us in this life, then it changes everything.
My favorite of the kingdom parables is the one in which He compares the kingdom of heaven to “…a 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.”
It is my favorite because it draws a beautiful picture of how amazing this “kingdom come near” is. Life in the kingdom is so overwhelmingly desirable, that there would be nothing that I wouldn’t give up to be able to have a piece of it. I want full citizenship! Eternal life in the kingdom of the heavens starting right now, here on earth – sign me up!
I referred to this parable as my favorite, but that is only true in some respects. It is also my least favorite because it is very convicting. Think about this:
- If the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that I would sell everything in order to own, I have to ask myself, “Am I willing to, or have I even thought about, giving up everything to gain access to His kingdom?” Would I give up my time? My comforts? My shows? My music? The list goes on and on. In this parable, the man doesn’t even seem to have to think long and hard about it before he sells everything to buy the property that would make the treasure his. When it comes to the kingdom, we don’t have to buy or sell anything to get in, but if we want access to all the benefits of citizenship, we’ll have to give up those things that are focused on me and what I want and focus on God and what He wants.
- How many times have I complained about personal sacrifices or inconveniences related to the kingdom, completely missing the fact that being part of the kingdom of heaven is worth ANY sacrifice? If I had to be tortured or even die to gain access to the kingdom, would even that be too much?
The challenge is to live every day as if our citizenship in the kingdom of the heavens – the most wonderful treasure we can imagine – is dependent upon us ‘selling’ everything. We enter by God’s grace, but it is worth any and every sacrifice required of us here.