In Matthew 13:44 Jesus is speaking to his disciples, v36 shows us that he has moved away from the crowd and speaking inside a house to his followers. Read the parable (Matthew 13:44-46) and ask people for their observations.Treasure in the Field
The first parable Jesus shares is about a person who finds treasure in a field. This would not be unusual in that time because there were no banks to deposit your valuables so people would bury their valuables or treasure, you may remember another parable Jesus told, where a servant buried his talent. There were many reasons why people buried their valuables, such as travel, war even avoiding paying taxes and unfortunately some of these people did not return to collect their valuables, therefore the Jewish law stated ‘if a man finds scattered fruit or money, it belongs to the finder’. The response from the man was that he was overjoyed with the discovery and sold everything he had to possess the field and the treasure.
The second person is a merchant who buys pearls wholesale and then sells them retail. Pearls were a currency more like gold today, considered a most valuable gem; if you owned a pearl you were considered wealthy. The merchant had been searching for pearls and would know a quality pearl when found. Jesus tells his disciples that when the merchant found this pearl, like the man who found the treasure, his response was to sell everything he had to possess the pearl.
Jesus is speaking through both stories about the Kingdom of God – whether you stumble across it like the man in the field or you have been searching for it like the merchant was for the pearl, both represent the value of the Kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul knew the value of the Kingdom; he had an encounter in Acts 9:1-4 that would change his life from persecuting Christians, to becoming a radical disciple, read Galatians 6:14.
Take a few minutes to discuss the difference in Paul after he encountered Christ. Paul would ‘boast’ about the cross, an object of shame in that day but became Paul’s glorious obsession. Talk about some ways we can boast about Jesus.
If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world - C.S. Lewis
Some Reflections on the Parable
Recognise the Value
In both of these stories Jesus affirms the value we have discovered when we encounter the Kingdom, knowing the value calls us to respond. Like anything in life we need to restore our ‘awe and wonder’ of the treasure we have in our relationship with Jesus. We restore this through regular communion with Jesus, allowing the bible to regularly transform us and in many other ways.
‘The Kingdom is present and awaiting recognition of its value and the radical action it deserves’
Take a few minutes to discuss this statement.
Francis of Assisi is an example of someone who discovered the value of the Kingdom, he came from a privileged family yet when he encountered Christ he gave his life to serving others.Respond with Joy
When the treasure was discovered the bible says there was great joy. Joy is an attribute of the people of God, even when in trials and captivity the Children of Israel found joy in their hope of a saviour and redeemer. Joy is not based on how we are feeling but on the promises and goodness of God and the knowledge that God is at work on our behalf. Read and reflect on the following scriptures: Psalm 20:5; 84:2, 10; 126:5-6; Phil 4:4; James 1:2Count the Cost
When the two found the treasure and pearl they recognised the value and were filled with great joy and sold everything they had to possess the treasure and pearl.
The cost for us is to give our lives totally for the sake of the Kingdom.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer talks about the concept of cheapening grace when we do not move from salvation to become a disciple, ‘cheap Grace would say you can come to Jesus and never need to repent, never need to change, never need to follow, never need to allow your life to be transformed’. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. Costly grace is the pearl of great price to buy, when he finds it after searching for it, will sell all he has to possess it.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23 then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
‘When Christ calls people he bids them come and die’ Bonhoeffer
The call to discipleship reflects the cost Jesus spoke about, daily submitting and responding obediently to Jesus commands. Obedience involves an act of our will, an enabling of the Spirit and the renewing of our mind. As we more consistently obey Jesus’ commands, we start to grow and change. We develop the character of Christ. Faith, hope and love emerge. The fruit of the Spirit grows. Our lives reflect Christ more and more bringing the Kingdom of God wherever we are.Questions
1. Discuss how we can rediscover the ‘awe and wonder’ of a relationship with Jesus
2. Ask people how their joy levels are?
3. Ask people about some practical steps to continue to follow Jesus and respond obediently to his commands.
As you finish pray for all present for a greater sense of joy and for the Kingdom of God to be at work within each of their lives.