Hidden Treasures

by Thabo Makgoba

Reading from the Gospel of Matthew, 13:44-52

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Meditation

The first two of these parables teach us that the Kingdom of God is of such great value that we should be willing to give up all that we have in order to gain it. Its value is such that the disciples had to be prepared for it to cost them everything. We also learn that recognizing the Kingdom involves recognizing and drawing a distinction between the good and the bad, the new and the old. This is the Lord’s business.

And God also judges us, separating the good from the evil. God sets standards for us, demonstrating by doing so that we are God’s children, subject to God’s loving discipline. Received in the right spirit, this provides a framework for wholesome and beneficial individual and corporate lives. God’s judgement is wielded in the interest of all humanity and aims to make us share in the very holiness of God Himself.

God uses different circumstances to bring the treasures of the kingdom to an individual, but there is only one way in which an individual can enjoy what is being offered. The discoverers of the hidden treasure and the pearl recognized the supreme value of what they had found and everything else became secondary. They sold all they had with nothing held back and the same is required of us for true salvation.

These parables challenge us to ask ourselves what Jesus asks the disciples in verse 51: have we truly got it? Have we understood the teaching of the Old and New Testaments, and the value of walking closer with Jesus and enabling others to do so?

The Most Rev. Dr. Thabo Makgoba is Archbishop of the Diocese of Capetown, South Africa; metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Southern Africa; and chancellor of the University of the Western Cape.

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