In Matthew 13:44, in the midst of a series of parables about the kingdom of God, Jesus tells this brief parable:
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.
In this parable of the treasure in the field, a man discovers some extraordinary treasure, he makes sure it stays tucked away, and then he is off—off to sell everything that he has in order to obtain it. What must this have looked like to his neighbors when a “For Sale” sign went up in his front yard, he started pulling junk out of his garage, and he sold everything he owned? Everything. For those on the outside looking at this, he would have seemed like a crazy fool.
But the man was no fool—he knew something that they did not know. Most people would struggle and dither about selling all their possessions, but this man made a quick but calculated decision. He reckoned that the treasure in the field far exceeded in worth all he had—and all he could ever hope for. And so, his calculated risk was actually no risk at all. Instead, it was a joyful and wildly uneven exchange—as wildly, graciously, and lavishly uneven an exchange as when we are given Christ’s glorious robe of righteousness and acceptance for the filthy shrouds of our own self-righteousness.
This parable pictures the truth in the book of Hebrews that Jesus is better. This kingdom parable points to the King. He is the exceedingly great treasure in that field. He is better than all the treasures of the world and better than all our own personal treasures—the things we value most, whether our plans, possessions, time, health, or even life itself. If Christ is supremely valuable, then selling everything and giving everything to have Him is not a loss—it’s gain. Jesus told us as much, for He said to those who would follow Him, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). John Piper put it this way: “The ultimate purpose of life is to show that Jesus is more precious than life.”
One other thing that strikes me about this parable is that it is not passive. There is action. There is urgency. There is risk. And there is joy. Salvation is God’s work from start to finish by His grace and power alone, but living out that gracious work should not be half-hearted. And there was nothing half-hearted about this man who found treasure in a field. I see a spirit of full-heartedness, of confidence, of tenacity, of the carpe diem of the Christian life. We are to be living out this life for the glory of God every single day. It is not a half-hearted venture, and it is not a passive life. It’s a life of action and urgency and risk and joy.