In the last few blog posts we have considered:
- The nature of the Kingdom of God (the how) – the parable of the sower: productivity (the meaning of life). Listen!
- The environment of the Kingdom of God (the where) – the parable of the tares and wheat: longevity (perseverance). Persevere!
- In the centre there are two brief parables that highlight the purpose of the Kingdom of God: security and integrity (the whole life). Trust!
In this context, Jesus now draws to our attention that being in his kingdom is the most valuable thing we could ever possess because it touches all the things in life that are important by giving meaning, future perspective, integrity and security.
Jesus does not allow us to sit on the fence. If we really understand the value of what Jesus explains to us, we would be willing to give up everything for it. That is, Jesus is not another accessory of life, but he intends to be in the centre. He is not a king like the king of Spain or the Queen of England, kings and queens to fill the gossip magazines.
But Jesus, this is all a bit heavy. I would prefer to keep a balance between all things. As in all life: Like a little bit of chocolate and then I’ll go for a run; I’l give a little money to the poor and then I enjoy my vacation; I’ll try to be polite with the person who bothers me and then I’ll complain to my best friend. In this way I maintain good balance, the path of yin and yang.
Or, we are more in agreement with Jesus; life brings sacrifice. You have to choose between things. I sacrifice health for chocolate bars; I sacrifice the family for career; I sacrifice the truth to maintain my social position; I sacrifice rainforests for home comforts; I sacrifice my self-esteem for the apparent well-being of another person. There are always choices, there are always winners and losers. But this way I might get what I am looking for, the path of no pain, no gain.
In any case, why should I give up this way of looking for balance and meaning in life? What is the difference in what Jesus offers us?
Jesus, in the first place, offers us participation in the reality of the kingdom of God not by sacrificing ourselves or something of ours but by sacrificing himself. This king died for me. It is the crux of this kingdom. In other words, the world is much bigger than my surroundings. Jesus wants to break the barrier that I have to maintain everything with my own efforts. He wants to show the inherent value we have, and not by what we achieve. Why would I give up my way of looking for balance and meaning in life? Because in the end it’s more expensive than I am willing to admit, until I see how Jesus values me.
To understand this, look at verse 44: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.’
How is it possible that this man does not see it as a sacrifice in giving up everything for the kingdom of God, but does so with joy? Because the kingdom already values him. This kingdom established in the sacrifice of Jesus values us as we are .
Something very interesting happens at this moment: I can see family, career, self-esteem, skills, chocolate for those they are. Are they important? Sure, but they cannot give me everything I need. Would not it be better to see them as part of life to express my response to the real treasure? That is, life is not about sacrifice to win one of them, but it is about how I can enrich them because I am already full of joy. Or, I can enjoy being generous to the poor and enjoying vacations without worrying about balancing them. I can enjoy chocolate for what it is and not only when it is balanced with the exercise. I can love the person who bothers me and also my best friend because someone loved me first.
This treasure of Jesus allows us to see other important things as they are, allows us to enjoy them. The feeling of sacrificing only comes when we deal with important things like the only treasure.
Something else interesting is to ask, Who is this kingdom treasure for? For workers and traders (the common person and experts). For the fortunate and the diligent (by chance, those who seek). Again, it is a bigger world. The marxists and the capitalists do not value each other, neither the poor and the rich value each other, nor do the simple and the wise value each other, but the kingdom of God is for all, it values everyone. It can be found by all.
The way you discover this treasure does not matter, that is, the starting point does not matter. Who you think you are does not matter. The question is, are you going to understand its value? Today is the day to decide.
Why? Jesus wants us to have no doubt that his kingdom will triumph. That is, Jesus is not a king of gossip magazines, but he intends to be at the centre of your life. Verses 47-50: ‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The kingdom of Jesus is going to surround everything, as much as a fishing net. It is above everything.
I do not like the idea of the judgement! It is not necessary! Well, neither did the people of Jesus’ generation. In the story after these parables Jesus is in a place where the people did not want to pay attention to him. And they took offence at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’
So instead of hiding behind an idea that we are better people and more sophisticated than those who lived 2000 years ago, we continue with the question, Why do not we like the idea of judgement?
Because we do not trust that God has our best interests at heart. We see what happens with power without control in human hands and it’s tyranny. Then we fear that God will do the same.
But the power in the hands of this God is directed to the cross! God does not want to destroy us, his creation! Read the other parables again about the kingdom. He wants to redeem us so that we bear fruit (13:23), that we stand firm (13:30), that we are safe and whole (13: 32-33).
And how is he going to judge us? In the parable it is about the intrinsic quality of the fish. It cannot mean that some are fresh and others are rotten. It focuses on how the fish are useful or apt for the purpose, that is in the case of fish, to eat. Jesus wants people who are fit for the purpose of his kingdom. Remember the other parables: the sower and that we bear fruit; the wheat and the tares and that we remain faithful; the yeast and that we are transformed profoundly.
God does not want a people that only wear good like clothes but something deeper. It’s possible? In the kingdom of God, yes.
But God will allow us to choose. And he’s very fair. He tells us the final consequence of our choice and will honor the decision we make. If you participate in the kingdom, Jesus swears to you that the profound in you will grow.
Jesus wants the best for us. Verse 51: ‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked.
‘Yes,’ they replied.
He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’
Look to whom Jesus speaks, the disciples. They are fishermen, tax collectors. Normal and simple people. Now look at verse 51. He calls them teachers of the law! Jesus teaches ordinary people to be wise. He wants them to be wise for everyone, to teach others the same truth. It’s an old wisdom of God because it has always been like this. It is also new because the wisdom of God is not inactive. Deepening yourself in it results, in seeing other things more clearly, generates new treasure. You, a simple fisherman, can be a teacher of the things of God by the way of Jesus..
Jesus wants to make us good and with true wisdom. Jesus wants to end the conflict of sacrificing things that have value by giving us the thing that has the highest value. He gives us the way to get it: listen, trust and experience the security and integrity of participating in the only endless kingdom. Do you see the value?
In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis, wrote: We only want God to add the finishing touches to the house; he wants to do the wholesale renovation so he can build a palace where he will reside.
What do you want for life? Treasure that will disappear or the treasure of eternity?