The Parable of the Hidden Treasure? Jesus had just finished explaining to the disciples the meaning of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, and these two short parables are a continuance of His discussion of the “kingdom of heaven.” He expressed truths about the kingdom in three pairs of parables in Matthew 13: the seed and the sower (vv. 3-23) and the weeds in the field (vv. 24-30); the mustard seed (vv. 31-32) and the leaven (v. 33); and the hidden treasure (v. 44) and the pearl of great price (vv. 45-46).
As soon as the man discovered the treasure, he realized its value was worth more than anything else. The joy it brought him was immense. So, too, is the kingdom of God. Imagine opening a present to discover the most elaborate, expensive, or unique earthly gift inside. Whatever extravagance you can imagine, it would still pale in comparison to opening the door to the kingdom of God. Anything we can imagine on Earth is nothing when we compare it to God’s kingdom.
The similarities of these two short parables make it clear they teach the same lesson—the kingdom of heaven is of inestimable value. Both parables involve a man who sold all he had to possess the kingdom. The treasure and the pearl represent Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers. And while we cannot pay for salvation by selling all our worldly goods, once we have found the prize, we are willing to give up everything to possess it. But what is attained in exchange is so much more valuable that it is comparable to trading an ounce of trash for a ton of diamonds (Philippians 3:7-9).
In both parables, the treasures are hidden, indicating that spiritual truth is missed by many and cannot be found by intelligence or power or worldly wisdom. Matthew 13:11-17 and 1 Corinthians 2:7-8, 14 make it clear that the mysteries of the kingdom are hidden from some who are unable to hear, see, and comprehend these truths. The disobedient reap the natural consequences of their unbelief—spiritual blindness. Those whose eyes are opened by the Spirit do discern spiritual truth, and they, like the men in the parable, understand its great value.
Notice that the merchant stopped seeking pearls when he found the pearl of great price. Eternal life, the incorruptible inheritance, and the love of God through Christ constitute the pearl which, once found, makes further searching unnecessary. Christ fulfills our greatest needs, satisfies our longings, makes us whole and clean before God, calms and quiets our hearts, and gives us hope for the future. The “great price,” of course, is that which was paid by Christ for our redemption. He emptied Himself of His glory, came to earth in the form of a lowly man and shed His precious blood on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. See additional information on the The Parable of the Hidden Treasure video on YouTube.
But since we don’t pay money to follow Jesus, what is the application? We have to remember that there is a cost associated with following Jesus. For us to truly be under Jesus’ rule, we will constantly make sacrifices. Every day we’re faced with opportunities for obedience. Sometimes that means being willing to surrender perfectly good things out of love for the Lord. The kingdom of heaven might cost us relationships, jobs, security, and maybe even our lives. In these two parables, Jesus wants to encourage us that there isn’t anything that we can give up that is more valuable than His kingdom. Every single sacrifice we make that empowers us to better submit to the lordship of Christ is absolutely worth it. We just need to pray for the faith to receive this truth, and the discipline to live it out.