I am preparing to teach this Sunday in our children’s department at church. We have been walking through the entire Bible during 2016. We have arrived at the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, all through the Bible, we have learned that it is all about Jesus. It has been lots of fun and very eye opening. Last week, we covered Jesus’ miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6. During Jesus’ 3 and 1/2 year ministry on this earth, many, many people were given the opportunity to repent and become disciples of Jesus Christ. The 11 of the 12 disciples answered the call, repented and dedicated their lives to discipleship. There were others, about 120 in all who ended up answering the call by the end of Jesus’ ministry. The vast majority of the people who heard the call, chose to walk away, not repenting and deciding not to dedicate their lives to discipleship. Some of those same people probably answered the call the second time it was offered, on the Day of Pentecost when 3,000 people repented and dedicated themselves to discipleship. Of the other 2,000 who answered the call a few days later, I am sure many of them were the same ones who had rejected the call when Jesus gave it. Praise God that He is the God of second chances, and third, and fourth etc.
This week, we are going to turn our focus to Matthew 13, a passage where Jesus teaches many parables, like:
- 1-23 – the parable of the sower and the seed along with the interpretation
- 24-30 – the parable of the wheat and tares – 36-44 – the interpretation
- 31-32 – the mustard seed
- 33-35 – the Leaven
- 44 – the hidden treasure
- 45-46 – the parable of the costly pearl
- 47-52 – the parable of the dragnet
Our focus will be the hidden treasure in verse 44. This parable falls in context of Jesus’ teaching on being a genuine disciple. A genuine disciple hears the message, understands the message, applies the message, and through him, much fruit for the kingdom of God is produced. The message is like Leaven, when introduced to the lump, permeates the entire lump of dough and causes positive change to occur. The key to the process is faith. Faith the size of a mustard seed begins the process. The message is the Gospel and it is compared to a treasure that is worth more than anything that this world has to offer. But, there is a warning. Among the genuine disciples are false disciples. Wheat and tares look exactly the same during the maturation process. The difference between the two is manifested when it is time to produce fruit. Wheat becomes brown and has much fruit. Tares remain green and produce no fruit. They look the same for a long time.
Let’s take a look at the treasure of the Gospel. Take a moment to read verse 44:
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Now, keeping in mind the context, let’s examine what we can learn about the treasure of the kingdom of heaven.
I. Discovering the kingdom
We are not born into the kingdom of heaven with our natural birth. Because of original sin, we are born outside of the kingdom. We are not born children of God. Our physical birth lands us in the kingdom of Satan, the current king of this world. In the great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that there is a narrow path that leads to the kingdom of heaven and that path must be discovered. The only way that we humans can discover the kingdom of heaven is through the message of the Gospel. Once we hear the message of the Gospel and seek to understand it, we discover the passage to the kingdom of heaven. Either we read it in the Scriptures or, someone reveals the message of the Gospel to us from the Scriptures. If we truly understand the treasure of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven, then we will act. Have you discovered the treasure of the message of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven? Do you view the Word of God, the seed, as a treasure? Are you helping other discover the treasure of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven?
II. Faith in action
The man who discovers the treasure of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven, he is ready to give up everything to accept it and possess it. The man in the parable did not steal the treasure. We cannot take the kingdom of heaven with our own strength. Instead, he recognizes the value of it and goes and sells all that he has to attain the treasure. This is the same call that Jesus gave during all of His teachings. In other words, repentance, faith, and discipleship. This call is clearly outlined in Luke 9:
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
24 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Repentance means having your mind changed about who you really are and who God really is. Once your mind is changed, your heart is changed. Once your heart is changed, you are born again, Jesus changes your direction in life. Your goal now is to follow Jesus. You give up everything else to follow Christ. This is a picture of faith in action. Have your dedicated your life to following Christ? Are you trying to possess the kingdom of God under your own strength? Have you surrendered to the process of discipleship? Do you currently possess the kingdom of heaven? Is the seed of the Gospel in you, ready to use you to produce much fruit?
III. Fruit of and for the kingdom
The entire chapter of Matthew 13 is all about the process of accepting the kingdom of heaven into your life and becoming a disciple who makes more disciples. This process has an end goal of fruit production. Like leaven, it permeates your life. You spread that leaven to the people around you. Some will recognize the treasure and accept it. Others will reject it. Still others will pretend to accept but not actually be transformed, be born again in other words. They may learn the traditions and lingo yet, when it comes to producing fruit, there will be none. Has the power of the Gospel permeated every part of your life like leaven permeates dough? Are you spreading the message of the Gospel like leaven? Is God using you to produce much fruit? Are you making disciple-making disciples? If you realize that you are not producing fruit, what are you going to do with that realization? Paul asked a group of church members:
5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-unless indeed you fail the test? (II Corinthians 13)
Test and examine the fruit in your life. Is that fruit the fruit of the Gospel, disciple-making disciples or, is that fruit something else? Maybe you need to reexamine your view of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven; do you really view them as a treasure worth more than anything else in this world? May the Lord help us understand the value of the Gospel and the kingdom of heaven!