Jesus’ Kingdom parables disclose what it “is like”, revealing the nature and economy of His realm to those with ears to hear (Matthew 13:9-17). As you’ll see, he mentions nothing of physical realities or time-tables that appeal to natural minds and describes Kingdom realities unrelated to much of what we’ve heard and come to believe about the Kingdom. But, in simple terms, He shares deep truths with practical, far-reaching applications.
In Matthew 13:44-46, Jesus shares two similar parables. Let’s prayerfully read them in a few translations and then highlight some points:
King James Version: (44)…The kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. (45) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: (46) Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Amplified Bible, Classic Edition: (44) The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. (45) Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls, (46) who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.
Young’s Literal Translation: (44) Again, the reign of the heavens is like to treasure hid in the field, which a man having found did hide, and from his joy goeth, and all, as much as he hath, he selleth, and buyeth that field. (45) Again, the reign of the heavens is like to a man, a merchant, seeking goodly pearls, (46) who having found one pearl of great price, having gone away, hath sold all, as much as he had, and bought it.
New Life Version: (44) The holy nation of heaven is like a box of riches buried in a field. A man found it and then hid it again. In his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (45) Again, the holy nation of heaven is like a man who buys and sells. He is looking for good pearls. (46) When he finds one good pearl worth much money, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
The Passion Translation: (44) Heaven’s kingdom realm can be illustrated like this: A person discovered that there was hidden treasure in a field. Upon finding it, he hid it again. Because of uncovering such treasure, he was overjoyed and sold all that he possessed to buy the entire field just so he could have the treasure. (45) Heaven’s kingdom realm is also like a jewel merchant in search of rare pearls. (46) When he discovered one very precious and exquisite pearl, he immediately gave up all he had in exchange for it.
The Message Bible: (44) God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field. (45) Or, God’s kingdom is like a jewel merchant on the hunt for excellent pearls. (46) Finding one that is flawless, he immediately sells everything and buys it.
Now, some points to ponder:
- Christ, in Whom the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells, is the Treasure and Pearl hidden in us (see 2 Corinthians 4:7; 13:5; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 1:26-27; 2:9-10), and we are, in His eyes, the Treasure and Pearl hidden in Him (see Colossians 3:1-3). To know this experientially (not just intellectually) has the potential to completely transform how we live every single day as we surrender to and lean into it (“sell all” to “buy it”). Now, let’s take this a little deeper.
- God’s Kingdom (“holy nation”) is hidden — covered, concealed and kept secret (Strong’s G2928) — from public view. And where in this parable is it hidden? In “a field”, which Jesus said six verses earlier “is the world” (Matthew 13:38). What is the “world”? It is the “kosmos” (Strong’s G2889), from which we get the English word cosmos that is the entire harmonious arrangement and order of the universe and earth and all that is in them. Notice, the Kingdom isn’t only off in some distant galaxy, beyond the Milky Way as many preachers rigidly claim. Instead, the Kingdom of God saturates our entire cosmos so that the potential for finding Him and His reality is in all things (see Isaiah 6:3; Jeremiah 23:24; Ephesians 1:23).
- In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus made this idea of a hidden Treasure in a field more personal when He said, “The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be observed or with visible display, nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].” (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition) The Kingdom — the nation, reign, domain, realm and reality of our King — is hidden in the field of your very life. Contrary to what we’ve been told, it is concealed so that it comes “not with outward show” (21st Century King James Version) and not “by watching for it” (J.B. Phillips). It isn’t “easily noticed” (Common English Bible) so that it actually escapes our notice more than we notice (pun intended). It “isn’t something you can see” (Contemporary English Version). And it isn’t in one place (“Look! Here [it is]!”) or another (“See, [it is] there!”) that can come to you (“does not come”) or that you can go to. Clearly, Jesus’ Kingdom is invisible to the senses and present everywhere at once. And yet, He says that His Treasure-Kingdom “is in your midst” (Christian Standard Bible), “is here with you” (Easy-to-Read Version), “is in the midst of you” (English Standard Version), “is inside you” (J.B. Phillips), “is already among you” (The Message Bible), “is in you” (New Life Version), “is within your grasp” (New Testament for Everyone), “is already expanding within…you” (The Passion Translation) and “is already here among you” (The Voice). Consider the comprehensive, whole-life implications of this truth! Also, when Jesus said “The kingdom of God does not come…” in ways that can be seen with our senses, He spoke to the nature of how it always “comes”, whenever it “comes”, thus sharing a general principle of the Kingdom. However, it must be said that this idea of “coming” isn’t at all what we think or have been taught. The word “come” in Luke 17:20 means to “accompany, appear, bring, enter, go, grow” (Strong’s G2064), showing that the Kingdom is accompanying us now, appearing and growing in, through and around you and me, entering our world through us, as we bring it with us everywhere we go everyday. So, you see, the Kingdom doesn’t need to “come” as we’ve been told, from somewhere distant to where we are. Instead, it simply waits on us to be uncovered from its “secret place” (Psalm 27:5; 91:1, 8) within us and all around us in the cosmos. While most believers have been conditioned to await a physical rapture removal of their bodies off the earth and a coming of the Lord to the earth, the truth is that the Kingdom of God is hidden under our noses, waiting on us to be discovered in, extracted from, invested in and lived for in this life, in the mundane, ordinary, natural (seemingly unspiritual) dirt in the “field” of our homes, relationships, workplaces and communities. But, this Treasure and Pearl is only found by those who “…Consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)
- When Jesus said “The kingdom of heaven is…”, He used the word “is”, not “was” or “will be”. Too often, we read past little words like “is” and miss the enormity and weight of their meaning. And, sadly, while most are looking and longing for a Kingdom that’s always in the future and because we naturally tend to only see what we’re looking for, the masses miss what IS. While waiting for death or some future “end time” event to experience Heaven, we miss the joy, excitement and delight of the Kingdom of Heaven in our “field” today.
- Why is the Treasure hidden in Matthew 13:44? Well, earlier in this same chapter, when His disciples asked why He was speaking to the crowds in parables, He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… having the power of seeing, they do not see; and having the power of hearing, they do not hear, nor do they grasp and understand. In them indeed is the process of fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: You shall indeed hear and hear but never grasp and understand; and you shall indeed look and look but never see and perceive. For this nation’s heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them. But blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear.” (Matthew 13:11-16 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition) The Kingdom of Heaven is concealed with secrets and mysteries because it’s precious, kept from the “fat and dull” masses for the few (like the “man” in Matthew 13:44-46) willing to find it and pay the price to possess it. But the Lord doesn’t hide it from us as much as for us so that we’ll search for it, because “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.” (Proverbs 25:2 Tree of Life Version) While there is much that He gives us, there are some things we have to be desperate enough to dig for. And it is His mercy that hides things from the indifferent to protect them from carrying the weight of responsibility associated with the revelation (revealing) of His Kingdom-Treasure-Pearl. Only those who are determined to seek are prepared to carry what is found. And yet He invites us to dig (see Matthew 7:7-8), promising that “To everyone who is victorious I will let him feast on the hidden manna…” (Revelation 2:17 The Passion Translation)
- The man in this parable is referred to as “a trespasser” (The Message Bible) and “a crafty man” (The Voice Translation). It seems he trespassed on property that wasn’t his, found something buried that also wasn’t his, re-hid it and then sold everything he owned to buy that field and its treasure. Sounds “crafty” right? Perhaps the hidden Treasure of the Kingdom requires us to dare to break the rules, to go where we’re not supposed to go, where we’re forbidden to go, to do something “illegal“, to step over lines we’re not permitted or supposed to cross, to challenge boundaries and expectations we’re advised to obey. And who sets these laws, rules, allowances, boundaries and expectations that keep us from the Kingdom? Religious leaders and their systems (as was true in Jesus’ day). They’re the ones who shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces and refuse to enter themselves (Matthew 23:13). Another term for “trespasser” is sinner. Obviously, Jesus isn’t saying we should sin to find the Kingdom. But it seems He is saying that what is needed to find and possess the Kingdom looks bad to some (perhaps many). It looks wrong. It looks rebellious and lawless, it looks like heresy and error, which is why these trespassers are considered troublemakers by conformists, legalists, traditionalists, religionists, etc., who count these rebels as worthy of condemnation through rejection, marginalization, blacklisting, slander and… well, wasn’t Jesus crucified? Thank God for the trespassers like Jesus and the few crafty trespassers who’ve dared to follow him!
- The “merchant” [defined as “a person on a journey” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary)] wasn’t searching for just any pearls but for goodly, fine, precious, rare and excellent “pearls”. And yet, when he found the one very precious, exquisite and flawless Pearl, he considered it worth giving up everything for, including his search for all the other unfound pearls potentially available to him. This is what the Kingdom realm of Heaven is like. This is how the economy of God determines value, seeing quality over quantity, where what is small (seemingly insignificant) to our earthly eyes is invaluable to Him and where all-in investment in the priceless one over the goodly many isn’t crazy, except in the eyes of the naturally-minded. As Jesus said, “…What is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of God”, and, as is also true, what is exalted and highly thought of by God is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of men (Luke 16:15 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition).
More could be covered but these are the main points I felt to share from this little passage on what the Kingdom of God “is like”.
What are your thoughts?
My personal prayer is that He would open my eyes to see what His Kingdom is really “like”, even if it offends my opinions, harms my preferences, challenges my ideals and does violence to all I’ve been taught.