We all love buried treasure; the thought of finding something of great value beneath the dirt gives chase to our imaginations. Although very few of us have gone after the treasure, we all would love to find some. I think this is why the lottery is so popular among so many people. We all want something we have not earned.
But there are those few brave souls who have invested incredible sums of money going after the treasure. You may have read about them in storybooks or seen them on reality television. Always seeking but rarely finding that elusive loot.
My favorite treasure hunting reality show on the History Channel is The Curse of Oak Island. Brothers Rick and Marty Lagina have been tirelessly working for more than ten years to fulfill a life-long, childhood dream of finding treasure on Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Some fifty years ago, Reader’s Digest published the article “Treasure Hunt: The Mystery of Oak Island” which sparked the imagination of the Lagina boys and many others. Although they continue to find interesting things on the island, it remains a 220-year-old mystery.
This compelling idea of treasure hunting reminds me of a few parables that Jesus shared with his followers.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
For almost forty years of my Christian life, I wanted to be that guy. I wanted to value the kingdom of heaven so much that I would give up everything I had to get it. I wanted to be the Rick and Marty Lagina of Christianity. As John Wesley once wrote, “Therefore spend and be spent in this work.”
During my Bible College days, I went on a few mission trips to humid climates even though I have severe airborne allergies that only increase with heat and humidity. But that never mattered because I was giving up my comfort for Jesus. I thought this was how God wanted me to go and seek after the valuable treasures of heaven. And for many of my twenty years after college, I kept looking, but I never found what I was looking for—just like the Lagina family.
You see, in my zeal and striving for Jesus, I missed the point. In all of my goals, imaginations, and aspirations to grab hold of my kingdom gold, I completely blew the exegesis of those verses by trying to read myself into the text.
It was only two years ago that I was standing in a parking lot in another humid climate at another Christian event when a pastor helped me understand what those parables truly mean. He gave me the key that unlocked the door to all of the parables. He said:
“The parables are all about Jesus… The field is the world, and YOU are the buried treasure… YOU are the valuable pearl… Jesus is the man who found YOU and gave everything to buy YOU.”
In the heat of the day in that hotel parking lot, it was like I had a Saul of Tarsus moment when the scales fell from my eyes, and I could finally see for the first time. This parable is the Good News of a God-Man who gives everything to get us. And unlike the Oak Island treasure hunters, Jesus always finds what he values!
This incredible truth is announced all over the New Testament.
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” (Revelation 5:9)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ—hear this news and rejoice! You are loved. Jesus gave everything so YOU could receive everything.
And if you don’t believe me, please listen to the following sermon from the same pastor who taught me that YOU are the buried treasure.
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