Imagine going to an estate sale where they were selling everything, including the house. As you walk through the house you end up in the attic and see a painting that looks familiar. You realize it is a Monet and discover it is an original monet, worth 35 million dollars. WHAT DO YOU DO? You casually go downstairs, find the estate holder, make an offer on the house and everything in it that you can’t afford but the owner can’t refuse.
This is what the way of Jesus is like – Giving up what you deserve to get what you don’t deserve. Jesus compares the kingdom – His way – to treasure. He is talking about the value of Kingdom living. Do we value His way more than any other way, to the point we are willing to give up something more immediate for the long-term benefit of following Jesus?
Think about how often we trade long-term benefit for short-term pleasures:
We trade Retirement or kids education for a Tesla
We trade Life-long relationship for one night stands
We trade Personal growth for distraction / entertainment
We trade Intentional life for a lazy one
We trade Rest for toil
We trade Connection for Loneliness
We trade Being present for Busyness
This trading of temporal, insignificant things for treasure reminds me of the story of two brothers in the Old Testament. The firstborn brother, Esau, sold his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob, for some food. Esau traded long-term potential for short-term guarantees.
When Steve Jobs was trying to recruit John Sculley to come and work for him, Sculley was CEO of Pepsi. Steve flew to California to meet with the then-26-year-old cofounder of Apple about a potential CEO role there. Sculley initially turned it down. Then Jobs dropped a now-famous line on him that made Sculley change his mind:“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?”
I think that’s what Jesus was trying to show his followers. Sometimes we trade what we need most, for what we need right now. We forget the value of following Jesus.
Matthew 13:44-46 illustrates it this way…
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
Think about the owners of the field and the store. They had the kingdom the entire time. For one didn’t know what he had (maybe it was forgotten or wasn’t passed down from generation to generation) and the other it was just one of many ways that held similar value in his shop. The way of Jesus holds much more value to the person who is willing to give up what they deserve to get what they don’t deserve. If you study the followers of the way of Jesus you quickly see their willingness to give everything, even their very lives, to live out the way of Jesus.
The famous artist, Van Gogh’s has a painting called, “Still Life With Meadow Flowers and Roses.” This painting was repeatedly dismissed as one of Van Gogh’s because it was “uncharacteristically exuberant”.
In 2003 his painting was finally “deattributed” on stylistic grounds and unceremoniously relegated to a back room of a museum out of public view, and under artist name it said “anonymous.”
But in 2012, with advances in x-ray technology, they took another look at the painting and what they found underneath the painting was a Van Gogh that was known to have been painted (because of Van Gogh’s writings) but never found, it was a painting called, “Two Wrestlers.” As you can imagine the painting is now displayed in a prominent location in the museum and worth millions.
Sometimes I think that’s how Christianity is often presented. We try to “sell” a version of Christianity that fulfills our immediate needs of safety, security, and finances. So often we paint over what the artist really wanted us to see, the treasure of undeserved mercy, kindness, and grace. We try to color up Christianity by trying to answer the question: “What will it do for me today?” and end up giving a false picture of the way of Jesus. The truth is, we don’t need to try to make the way of Jesus look beautiful, it is beautiful on its own. Sometimes it’s painfully beautiful. It’s never ugly and it’s never false, because it’s created out of pure sacrificial love.
only way to truly discover the way of Jesus, the treasure hidden in the field, is
by receiving His Friend, the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised He would give us the
Holy Spirit who would make everything plain to us about the way of Jesus. The
Spirit remind us of what Jesus taught and the truth, power, and treasure found
in the Kingdom. By His Spirit, we can
see what’s underneath – the treasure worth dying for. The Spirit at work in us will
give us the ability to give up what we think we deserve in this life, to get
what we don’t deserve in this life or the next – His unmerited favor, His
glorious grace, and His unconditional love.