Hunting for Buried Treasure
When we lived in Virginia during the early 1980's, we often would see news stories describing treasure hunters in nearby Bedford. These treasure hunters had spent years attempting to decrypt three documents that were known as the Beale Ciphers. These documents were encrypted texts that were believed to describe the location of buried treasure worth tens of millions of dollars. One document had been successfully decoded. It described the contents of the treasure. But the second one, the one that described the location of the treasure, remained elusive. It was interesting to observe how much money these treasure hunters would invest in attempting to dig up plots of land in hopes of discovering this valuable treasure.
If you were able to decipher these documents, what would you do? Knowing that the reward for unearthing such a valuable find would be millions of dollars, most of us would work tirelessly to gather funding for an expedition to retrieve it. We would likely attempt to purchase or gain exclusive access to the land where it was buried. We would guard it closely and work hard, day and night, to retrieve the iron box full of riches and wonders.
In one of his many parables, Jesus described the kingdom of heaven in a similar way. In Matthew 13:44-45, Jesus said:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he he has and buys that field. (ESV)
What Jesus seems to be conveying in this and subsequent verses is the sense of value that we should place on His kingdom. He reinforces this idea of value in verses 45 and 46:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
As these two parables indicate, His kingdom is so valuable that we should be willing trade everything we have for an opportunity to obtain it.
Unlike the Beale Ciphers, God's word plainly lays out how we can access the treasures of His kingdom. In John 3:3-5, Jesus instructs us that we must be born again of water and Spirit to enter the kingdom:
Jesus answered him "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born if he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
In Acts 8: 12, we read about how early believers in Samaria responded to news about the kingdom:
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized both men and women.
How do you view the kingdom of heaven? I know that sometimes, too often, I take it for granted. In these parables, Jesus uses common experiences to help us understand the true value that we should place on becoming a member of this kingdom. It also indicates that we should experience great joy in obtaining such great treasure.
Let's all work together to better understand the treasures that have been revealed to us and to work hard to experience its true value.
-- Steve Harbin