A Devotion by Pastor Ron Flentgen
At our last 50+ Bible Class a few weeks ago, there was some discussion about what to study together as we moved toward the conclusion of our study of First Corinthians. The suggestion was made to use our final weeks together by looking at some of the parables of Jesus. We know that Jesus often taught by the use of parables as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Jesus was the greatest story-teller of all time, using parables as a kind of extended metaphor to draw attention to his teachings. He lifted up things that seemed common to people to teach them about things that were not so commonly understood or known, the vast riches of the kingdom or rule of God. Matthew devotes an entire chapter in his Gospel to a string of parables, chapter 13, some of which are very short in length but very powerful in meaning. One of those is the so-called, “Parable of the Hidden Treasure,” verse 44: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then, in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” That one verse, one of the shortest parables of Jesus, causes us to ask ourselves, “What counts in my life? What is of supreme value to me?” During these times of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and depression it is possible that we might be caused to reflect more seriously upon just that, the real treasure of our lives. In the parable, the treasure comes to the man as a great surprise. It’s a reminder that as we come into this world we haven’t the slightest idea of where the treasure of life is or even what it is. There are many who don’t expect much in life. They are just sort of plowing they field of apathy and boredom, routine and tedium, mindlessly marking time, never imagining that there is anything worth living for, much less dying for. Jesus himself was tempted by Satan to sell out on his mission to redeem the world in favor of a loaf of bread, a moment of glamour or a fleeting display of power. We have similar temptations every day. But now we could be asking ourselves, “What really is the real treasure of my life?”
Only the real treasure can give true and lasting joy, eternal value to life and to living. The man in the parable, much to his great surprise, discovered such a treasure. It was “in his joy” that he was willing to sell everything he had to buy the field with the treasure in it. That treasure was worth giving up everything to have and to keep. Jesus is saying, “This is what the kingdom is like. This is how it works.” The “kingdom” is God working and ruling in people for new life, new hope, new joy and new promise; and it comes through the very One who is speaking, Jesus himself. The real joy comes when we who were lost, stumbling and struggling through life without God and without hope are lifted by God’s Spirit out of the pit of hopelessness and despair. The Real Treasure is Jesus who came to suffer the consequences of our lives of apathetic wandering by living his holy life for us and by giving his life on the cross for us. In his resurrection he gives us new life, a life that is patterned after his in joyful service to God by serving one another. It came as a great surprise to the man in the parable. Sometimes we, too, need to be jolted and shaken up to see more clearly what the Real Treasure of life is, that in Christ Jesus nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. The Real Treasure is the only one that keeps getting more and more valuable as we give it away; for it is in giving that we receive, in serving that we are served, in sacrificing that we are rich, and in dying that we live.
Pastor Ron Flentgen