The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and bought that field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it (Matt. 13:44-46).
On November 16, 1992, a farmer called Peter Whatling had lost his hammer in his field, near Hoxne in Suffolk. He rang up a friend with a metal detector and asked him to find his hammer. His friend, Eric Lawes, found way more than the hammer he was looking for. He dug up silver spoons and gold jewellery, as well as gold and silver coins. The treasure he unearthed was the largest hoard of late Roman gold and silver ever found in the United Kingdom. Today its value is around £3.5 million.
Eric Lawes is like the first man in the above story or parable that Jesus told. He wasn’t looking for treasure, but that is exactly what he found. When he found it, he knew that he had to have it. He would be rich beyond his wildest dreams. So he sold everything to get together the money he needed to buy the land. No doubt his friends and family thought that he was mad. But he knew what he was doing. Finally he bought the land and then the treasure was his.
Searching for treasure
In the 1980’s a woman on the Island of Jersey told metal detector enthusiasts Reg Mead and Richard Miles a strange story. Her father had been a farmer on Jersey and one day he had ploughed up some silver coins in a field. The two men were on to something. They contacted the farmer and asked for permission to search his fields for treasure. He gave them permission to search for no more than 15 hours a year after the crops had been harvested. So every year, just after harvest they would search the fields. They never gave up. In June 2012, after some 30 years of searching they finally found some coins. In fact they found 68,000 coins as well as gold neck torcs and other jewellery! Archaeologists established that the Celtic Coriosolitae tribe buried it around 30BC while they were fleeing from the Romans. Its present day value is over £10 million.
This story is like the second man that Jesus spoke about. He was looking for treasure. He was looking for the finest pearl that could be found. Like these two metal detectorists, he did not give up until he found the beautiful pearl that he was searching for. When he finally found it, he sold everything that he had in order to make it his own.
Jesus says that these two stories show what it is like to discover the Kingdom of Heaven. When you find it, you realise that you must have it at any cost. You must make it your own. Nothing must get in the way!
Finding the Kingdom of Heaven
Some, like the first man, are not looking for spiritual, eternal realities. They have no thought of God, Jesus or Heaven and then, suddenly, they find it. Out of the blue, they find that Christ died for their sins, to give them eternal life and the certainty of Heaven. They grasp hold of Jesus and all that he is and all that he has and they make him their own. They can say, ‘Christ is my Saviour, Jesus died for me.’ The Lord says in Romans 10:20, ‘I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.’
Others are like the merchant. They know that there is a God. They know that Heaven and Hell are real. They know that there must be a way to God. But where is it? Where is he? There seem to be so many alternatives, so many dead ends. But they keep on searching and then, like the merchant, they find what they are looking for. They find the Kingdom of Heaven, eternal life, being right with God, forgiveness and acceptance of God. The Lord says in Jeremiah 29:13, ‘You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.’
Finding the glorious treasure
Now, note from both parables what Jesus is teaching. The Kingdom of Heaven is real. It is of immense, eternal value. It is of greater value than all you have and it is worth giving up all that you have to get it. That is a very big claim.
Secondly, note what Jesus is not saying. He is not saying that you can buy the Kingdom of Heaven! You don’t need to. Why? Because he has paid the eternal price for you. He lived a sinlessly perfect life in your place. He went to the cross and paid the price for your sins. You did the crime but he paid the fine! On the cross, bearing your sin and my sin, Jesus was subjected to the eternal wrath of God at sin. He was forsaken by God, hell was poured out on him. He went into the outer darkness and suffered and bled for you and me. He paid the wages of sin, which is death. Jesus cried out, ‘It is finished,’ which literally means, ‘It is paid for!’ As the Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 1:18-19, ‘For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.’
Jesus then gloriously rose again and is alive forever more. Christ comes to you and says, ‘I have purchased Heaven for you and I have purchased you for Heaven. Come to Me, I am the King of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let me be your King and your Saviour and you will then become a citizen of Heaven.’
Do not stop seeking, do not stop praying, do not stop reading the Bible or going to a good gospel preaching church until you know that such a glorious treasure as Christ is yours forever. Once you know him, you will want to know more of his unsearchable riches (Eph. 3:8) and so you will keep on doing these things. Then you will be able to sing:
Jesus, Jesus all sufficient,
Beyond telling is your worth,
In your name lie greater treasures,
than the richest found on earth.
Such abundance, such abundance
is my portion with my God.