Some Filipino fishermen found a huge, irregularly-shaped pearl inside a giant clam that stuck to their boat's anchor. With no idea of its value, they kept it for good luck and stashed it under a bed for ten years. When in 2016 they left it at their city' tourism office for safekeeping, they were stunned to learn the pearl could be the world’s largest and might be worth as much as $100 million.
There are many ways treasures can be hidden. In Jesus’ day, burying valuables was a way to keep them safe, given that there were no banks with secure vaults. So the first parable in today’s reading comparing the kingdom of heaven to a “treasure hidden in a field” would not have sounded strange to His listeners (v. 44). Notice that this treasure fulfills the characteristics we explained at the start of this month—it was valuable, hidden, and found unexpectedly.
The second parable compares the kingdom to the quest for a supremely precious pearl (vv. 45–46). Again, it was valuable, hidden, and found only after a great effort.
Notice that the finders of these two treasures did the same thing. They both sold everything they had to get it—they knew it was worth everything—and they did so with joy and excitement. There is no such thing as half-hearted discipleship, or, as Jesus said elsewhere, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
The NIV Study Bible summarizes: “These two parables teach the same truth: The kingdom is of such great value that one should be willing to give up all one has in order to gain it.”
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