The Kingdom’s Worth It (Matthew 13:44-46)

dig in field

Big Idea: What is the Kingdom like? It’s like a treasure buried.

Purpose: To imagine what the quest for the supremely valuable Kingdom might look like today.

You may have heard of Steve Vaught, a man from California. You may not know his name as well as his nickname, Fat Man Walking. Steve writes:

My Name is Steve Vaught, (born Stephen James Liller in Youngstown, Ohio). I am a 39 year old, happily married father of two great kids and I have a pretty good life here in Southern California. You would think that I would be happy because of these things, but I am not. I am not happy because I am fat and being fat makes every day unhappy.
I did not make this website to complain about it however, instead I am doing something about  it and this site was made to chronicle my story.
I am going to walk across the United States from San Diego to NYC to lose
weight and regain my life!

This man was on a quest. The results of this quest have been mixed - he ended up
being divorced during his walk, and there were all sorts of complications and
setbacks, but there's no doubt that he was on a quest.

You have to kind of admire people who are on a quest:

  • to write a book
  • to lose weight
  • to pay off a mortgage or get out of debt
  • to win in the Amazing Race

While we were camping, we heard a story of a quest. It started with a man named
Billa LaRue, pioneer on the banks of the St. Lawrence River - a man known to be
both cheap and rich.

As he lay dying, he often looked out over the little cemetery he had created for
his family. He supposedly said, "I'm looking at my treasure." Nobody knew where
his treasure was buried, and they didn't know whether he was talking about his
family or his money.

When he died, the locals went on a quest for that money. They dug up the
cemetery, and the field across the road, but they never did find his treasure -
although there are stories. You can still see the cemetery and the field today.
It reminds me of a story Jesus once told about a similar quest. I think you
could even say that this is the ultimate quest.

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.
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 13:34-36)

I want to ask a few questions: What did Jesus mean? And what does it mean for us

It's Hidden

"Buried in a field" - You have the picture of a man who's working a field one
day and discovers a treasure that's been buried and forgotten. People commonly
hid valuables in fields - no safety deposit boxes back then! Maybe the person
who buried it had long died, and the treasure had been forgotten.

Or a pearl. Pearls are valuable but it's not always obvious how valuable:
they're small and it takes expertise to find them.

Jesus says, "The Kingdom is like that." What if the Kingdom is the greatest
treasure, but it lies unnoticed and unseen by most? What if, like the man who
sold everything to buy the field, it looks insane to invest ourselves so heavily
to be part of that Kingdom?

This means that it's going to be easy to miss the Kingdom because it is hidden.
It does look small and inconsequential.

The treasure exists. it doesn't require our attention or consent in order to
exist. Like gravity, or high-frequency radio waves, it just is.

But it's hidden. We won't see it unless we learn to see and imagine in new ways.
Here's the thing: the Kingdom doesn't look like much right now. It's not what
everyone is talking about. It's the easiest thing to miss - but it's there, and
for those who really know what they're looking for, it's everything.
The Kingdom is the primary message of Jesus, appearing over 100 times in the
Gospel. It's arguably the central theme of the Bible, and yet it's easily
missed, both in our knowledge and experience.

What is keeping you from seeing the Kingdom in your life? Let's go even better -
in our church? Where would be begin to go looking for the Kingdom?

The Kingdom will rarely be obvious in this age. It's always going to be hidden
and inconspicuous. We're going through a phase in North America where it's not
obvious at all. But it's there. And if we're going to be part of the Kingdom,
it's going to require developing eyes to see it when everyone else misses it.

It's Supremely Valuable

The emphasis in these stories is on the supreme worth of a treasure that's
unseen by others.

For those, who like the pearl merchant, are trained properly, there's no
question that when you find the treasure, you've discovered something of
incalculable value.

I think one of the reasons people underestimate the value of the Kingdom is that
they confuse the church with the Kingdom. Let's face it - the church can be
disillusioning. There's a reason: churches are comprised of people. Even holy
people, God's people, are hot and cold and obnoxious and messy.

The church itself is not the Kingdom. We are not on a search for the perfect church. If anything, we're not trying to work on being more perfect - maybe more
honest about who we are. But we are, at our best moments, like these two people
in Jesus' story - people who are searching for the treasure of the Kingdom, and
investing everything we have because we see the immense value of the Kingdom.

It's Worth the Quest

The Kingdom is a treasure that is worth any sacrifice that we might make to
acquire it.

Jim Elliot, whose story is told in the movie The End of the Spear, died as a
missionary in Ecuador. He once said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot
keep to gain what he cannot lose."

I have a proposal:

  • not that we try to build a better church, although we will work on that – but it's not the main thing;
  • not that we try to build the Kingdom or advance the Kingdom - language that the Bible never uses

My proposal is that we go on a relentless search as a church to see the Kingdom where it already exists, that we recognize it's incalculable value, and that we
make whatever sacrifices necessary to be part of that Kingdom. In short, that we
as a church go on a quest to join what God is already doing in His Kingdom,
right here among us and in the community, which is so easily missed.

Third Day sings:

I've heard all the stories
I've seen all the signs
Witnessed all the glory. Yeah
Tasted all that's fine
Nothing compares
to the greatness of knowing You, Lord
Nothing compares
to the greatness of knowing You, Lord
I see all the people
Wasting all their time
Building up their riches
For a life that's fine
I find myself just living for today
'Cause I don't know what
Tomorrow's gonna bring
So no matter if I rise or fall
I'll never be alone, oh no
(Third Day, Nothing Compares)
Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada