Thursday, 31 July 2014

The treasure hidden in the field

The following is a talk I gave at a midweek service in St. James (30th July 2014) on Matthew 13:44

The word here for treasure is from the Greek word “thesaurus” which is the name given to a word-finder or a treasury of different words, their meanings and synonyms. For those struggling with crosswords, creative writing or composing a poem a "thesaurus" is indeed a treasure-trove that enriches their search.

The word "treasure" crops up in several places in the New Testament:

In Matthew 6:20ff Jesus tells us for example that we should not lay up for ourselves treasure on earth which moth and rust destroy or thieves steal—but to store up treasure in heaven which cannot rot or rust or be stolen. Jesus is drawing a contract between a treasure that is eternal and will last and one which is earthly and temporal.

In Matthew 12:35 talking to the Pharisees Jesus warns about how good trees produce good fruit while bad tress produce bad fruit. The particular Pharisees Jesus was talking to were bad trees (not all Pharisees were bad). He calls them a “brood of vipers” and says “how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” In other words their hatred and rejection of Him is proof of the badness within. By contrast he says, “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things.”

So treasure is something eternal not temporal, it is something good not bad.

In Matthew 19:21 Jesus is talking to the rich man who wants eternal riches AND earthly riches at the same time. He wants the “penny and the bun” as the old saying goes. But his love of earthly riches is like a huge weight that is dragging him down. So Jesus tells him: “If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.”  Here Jesus is setting himself as the treasure the Rich young man should bind himself to ("come follow me") while cutting himself off from earthly riches.

So here we come to the treasure hidden in the field and we begin to understand a little more the significance of it. It is a treasure that when found will give us eternal life. It is something good above all other. It is however not a thing, or an object, it is a person. It is Jesus—the son of God and the Saviour of the world. To many he is still hidden, just as the treasure was hidden from the man who owned the field! He was hidden even from his own relatives, initially at least. And to his neighbours he was just Joseph the carpenter's son. Even to the Jewish people who so longed for the Messiah found it hard to find him—in fact from the start they tried to kill him. But as John says: “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he (gives) power to become the children of God” (John 1:14)" 

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