The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. – Matthew 13:44 (NIV)
One summer day in 1795, young Daniel McGinnis found what appeared to be a depression in the ground. The teenager, who lived on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia called Oak Island, knew the area was reputed to have been frequented by pirates—Oak Island was one of 300 small isles in the Mahone Bay, perfect for hiding pilfered treasures. So Daniel returned the next day with two of his friends and started digging.
He never found anything. What he did do, though, was spark a treasure hunt that spanned 200 years, cost millions of dollars, and claimed half a dozen lives, including a daredevil motorcyclist and his 18-year-old son in 1959.
Excavators, digging and drilling to nearly 200 feet, discovered charcoal, putty, spruce platforms, oak chests, layers of wood and iron, coconut fibers, parchment, loose pieces of metal, a cement vault, a human hand, a mysterious inscription on a stone, a flood tunnel, booby traps—but no treasure.
What really lies at the bottom of “The Money Pit”? Treasure buried by Captain Kidd, who used the area for R & R and to repair his ships? The original works of Shakespeare or Sir Francis Bacon? The crown jewels of France, which vanished four years before McGinnis stumbled onto the site? The long-lost Holy Grail? Or is the Money Pit nothing more than an old ammo dump?
No one knows. But who can resist the lure of buried treasure? Note the popularity of such films as National Treasure, Fool’s Gold, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Why do such stories appeal to us? Perhaps because we all harbor a secret dream that we will find a treasure that will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams. What wouldn’t we give for a chance at it?
That’s why Jesus used this analogy in describing the kingdom of heaven.
“The kingdom of heaven,” He said, “is like treasure hidden in a field.” Since there were no banks in the first century, it wasn’t uncommon to hide treasure in the ground. If the person who buried it died without disclosing the whereabouts of his cache, it was finders keepers.
“When a man found it,” Jesus continued, “he hid it again, and then went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
That’s how valuable the kingdom of heaven is. The late missionary Jim Elliot understood this.
“He is no fool who gives that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose,” he once said. Elliott was one of five missionaries murdered by the Auca Indians.
Mother Teresa also understood this, as did Hudson Taylor. And William Tyndale. And many others like them who gave all they had in order to serve the King. They knew that what they relinquished was minuscule compared to what they received—the kingdom of heaven. They gave that which they could not keep to gain that which they could not lose.
Now, that doesn’t mean we have to run off and become missionaries when we submit to the rule of King Jesus. But it does mean that our priorities change. Our perspective changes. What we once thought was so important no longer is. It means that, like Paul, we say, “Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ” (Philippians 3:8 NLT).
What about you—where is your treasure?
Dear God, I still cling to things that moth and rust can destroy, and thieves can steal. Remind me daily of where my real treasure lies. Amen.
Extra-Tea: Read and meditate on Philippians 3:7–8