Jesus is coming to town.” The news spread from house to house. Everyone was excited; the air seemed to crackle with anticipation. People rushed around, finishing their work. Mom didn’t have to insist today. No one wanted to miss a single word Jesus said.
Jesus was different, not like other ministers or the Pharisees. You could understand everything Jesus said. He told wonderful stories. There was something special about Jesus’ stories; you enjoyed them when you heard them, but the more you thought about them afterward, the more spiritual meaning you discovered.
When Jesus started talking about the kingdom of heaven, He grabbed everyone’s attention. Many wondered if this was the time they had been waiting for, when He would proclaim Himself the Messiah and chase the Romans out of their land. Would there be riches for everyone in the new kingdom? Everyone listened, confidently expecting that soon they would be rid of their Roman masters.
But the kingdom Jesus talked about didn’t feature Roman soldiers, revolution, and rebellion. As the people made their way home they quietly discussed and wondered about the kingdom Jesus had described. It didn’t make sense. It didn’t fit with their picture of a kingdom. When were they going to get rid of the cruel, oppressive Romans?
Seeing confusion on their faces, Jesus told more stories. First He compared the kingdom of heaven to a farmer who rents a field.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field,” Jesus began. “When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44).
It was not unusual that when a farmer was plowing a field he would find a box full of priceless treasure. The farmer would then try to negotiate with the owner of the property the purchase of the field he had been renting. The price of a field was usually far beyond anything the farmer could easily afford. So the farmer would go away with a heavy heart because he didn’t own that much money.
But the farmer in Jesus’ story quickly raced home wondering how he could raise the money. Arriving home, he explained to his family that he needed to sell everything they owned to buy a field.
The farmer’s wife and friends could not understand what had happened to him. But the farmer knew that if he could buy the field, the treasure would be his.
To help the truth of the story sink deep into the minds of hHis listeners, Jesus told another story. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45, 46).
It was common for merchants to journey long distances, asking and searching for the perfect pearl. They traveled the world, buying and selling pearls. This was the trade of the merchant in the story. He found many beautiful pearls, but none that was perfect.
Then one day quite unexpectedly he found it. Polished, sparkling, glimmering— it was breathtaking. Immediately he knew that this was the pearl he had always dreamed of. However, it was expensive. The merchant knew that it would cost him a fortune. In fact, he would have to sell everything he owned. But it was worth it. His friends and his family wondered about his sanity, but he sold everything he owned to buy the perfect pearl.
Jesus knew what it was to give up everything. He had given up His place in heaven with His Father. He had given up all of His power, His crown, and all the honor and respect as King and Lord of all creation.
But He didn’t regret it. Each one of His disciples was worth it. Even if there had been just one of them, He would have been willing to give up everything and come and live on earth. He valued each of them more than the greatest treasure and richest pearl. To Him they were each priceless.
Jesus knew that in time all except Judas would follow Him. Once they gave up everything to follow Jesus, the disciples would discover a treasure far greater than everything they had left behind. They would understand that everything fades in insignificance compared to the priceless treasure of the kingdom of God.