Jesus loves telling stories. Children think Jesus’ stories are great and adults are still left pondering them long after they end.
There’s one story Jesus tells where this person unexpectedly stumbles across a forgotten treasure chest that had been buried in a field. “Finders, Keepers” was not a familiar custom in that time. According to property laws back then, the man needs to buy the field so that everything in it – including the forgotten buried treasure – will belong to him. But land is expensive and the man doesn’t have the cash to purchase it. So he sells all his possessions; he liquidates everything to raise enough money to buy that field. And he doesn’t sell his belongings hesitantly or sadly. No, he’s ecstatic to part with all his old stuff if it means getting his hands on that treasure. And when he finally owns the field and claims the treasure, his joy is complete.
This is a bit like what knowing and following Jesus is like – not that you can buy his friendship like you can buy a field, but that friendship with Jesus is of such great value that it’s worth giving up anything and everything else. In fact, following Jesus eventually and always involves getting rid of old stuff that gets in the way of walking closely with him. He won’t necessarily ask me to sell my house, but he may ask me to give up some “me time” so I can extend hospitality and welcome people into my house for a meal or conversation over coffee. He might suggest that instead of buying that impressive new car, I get something less expensive so I have money to share with the local church or to sponsor an orphan child overseas. He’ll certainly work with me to get rid of things like pride, my desire to be in control, lust, coveting the latest gadget, and selfishness. Friendship with Jesus always outweighs any sacrifices he invites me to make so that nothing gets in between him and me. Jesus’ story helps me remember he is the best treasure I can pursue.
But it occurs to me that I can hear this story another way, too: What if Jesus is the treasure finder and I am the treasure? What if I am not the seeker but the one being sought? Jesus’ story also reminds me how Jesus went and sold all he had so that he might buy me. He gave up everything he had – his life even! – to pay the price of my sin so that I could be friends with him. It was the hardest thing ever, but still he did it willingly – with joy, even – so that he and I can be friends. Anything he calls me to give up so I can follow him more closely pales in comparison with him sacrificing his life for me. And you could say that before I decide to pursue Jesus like a treasure, I discover he has already been pursuing me. I am his treasure.
That’s a story that will keep me smiling today. Hopefully you too.
I wrote this for today’s Perspectives column in the Rock Valley Bee.
I’ve preached on this parable and you can read the manuscript here.
Wow! That second perspective changes things!