"Sow seeds, let others discover the treasure you have found – it’s what Jesus wants us to do, and that should be reason enough"
Matthew obviously made a bit of a collection of Jesus' sayings about the Kingdom, and he's kindly given us access to some of them. And in case you're wondering why, well this was the message of Jesus as soon as he started his ministry, as he hit the ground running!
It was the message of John the Baptist (Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near) and Jesus picked up the torch that John was carrying and brought it bang up to date from the idea the people had learned from their scriptures.
What did he mean by "the Kingdom of God"?
Well, you answer that one every week more or less, and for some of us raised in regular church attendance we’ve probably answered it thousands of times.
How does it go in the Lord’s Prayer?
"Your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven."
It’s accepting and welcoming God’s will for our lives, day by day!
If you want a little more detail look up the beatitudes, those lovely sayings that begin "Blessed are those…" because those are the people that Jesus saw around him who were already living that life.
That’s at the very core of the gospel message, and we pray that we’re longing for it every week. You do, you know!
Do we pray that openly and honestly before God?
That was at the heart of Paul”s words when he was writing so beautifully of the hope that he had, the treasure that he had discovered. That’s why he could write, "That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.."
Let’s go back to Jesus' words. How do we discover this treasure, this kingdom life that Jesus was ushering in?
Well, we can of course stumble across it by accident, through reading the Bible or maybe someone's biography, watching a film or even, might I suggest, seeing someone's life and wondering what makes them tick.
We might be someone who has been seeking the truth for years, and embraced several different spiritualties and faiths in our searching, before we discovered Jesus one day.
Chances are though that the majority of us simply heard something that made us think, just like Jesus hoped his parable would do, and a faith developed over time. Seed sowing – vitally important in the spiritual economy of the kingdom!
The parable of the Sower showed us that when people hear the kingdom message somewhere, they respond or not, depending on which type of soil they might be. But when they hear it and that seed, that idea, sinks in and starts to take root in their hearts, then something is going to happen.
Jesus now compares that seed growth to a tiny mustard seed that grows into a tall tree, or like yeast cells within bread dough which spread throughout the dough and cause it to rise.
That seed which is sown or yeast which is used in a recipe can produce amazing results. The seed or yeast that remains in the packet cannot.
Then Jesus talks of treasure and pearls.
In Jesus' time if you had something precious you didn't pop it in a bank deposit box, you buried it in the ground until it was needed.
Particularly important for a people in constant fear of invasion and persecution (the story of the God’s people particularly in the OT).
But the rule was Finders=Keepers if you stumbled across a hoard by accident. This man did just that, he seems to have stumbled across it by accident while was going about his daily life. But to make doubly sure that ownership was his, he went off, sold all he had and bought the field where the treasure had been found.
This Kingdom of God thing that we pray about each week was worth a great personal sacrifice.
Think about Paul, who discovered Jesus and threw in his influential and powerful job to eventually become the great Apostle.
Then there’s the merchant and his pearl. This was no accidental find, this was someone who had been on the hunt for this pearl of great price, this unique object for years, and when he found it, he got rid of everything else that he had coveted over the years in order to possess it.
The message is a simple one. This knowledge, this treasure, this hope that Paul talked about and which the whole of Jesus' life was concerned with sharing, is precious enough to give everything in order to own it. That doesn’t necessarily mean literally giving everything away, but handing over all which is precious to us to God – maybe our gifts and talents, the way we work, what we do with what we have – the results can be interesting!
You see, it’s not just about having the treasure, or understanding the truth, but doing something – a call to action!
It would be wrong to forget the fish of course – You remember the last story that Matthew quotes. A drag net is not discriminatory when it comes to catching fish, it'll pick up the big ones, small ones, good ones and bad ones. And That’s where we have to acknowledge that there is both a mercy and judgement aspect to God’s Kingdom.
History doesn’t go around in circles, it’s going in a straight line, and God is at the end of it as he was at the beginning. That’s the uncomfortable part of the message for some, that God ultimately is a God of justice and truth, and we are accountable to him.
Paul knows that, but he carries a strong hope for those who live and share this treasure, "That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."
So, how does all this impact on us?
Well, can I just say one word……. Mission!
If we as individuals don’t sow the occasional seed through our words or lives, we’re seriously limiting how others outside these walls are going to find this treasure. Seed sowing is so important, both with our children and also, sensitively, when someone gives us the opportunity to just say something quite simple about our faith.
It’s a reminder if you needed it to read the Bible – use daily notes if it helps, there’s several good ones around.
If we bury this treasure within our hearts then That’s where it stays! Because we can't rely on strangers coming willingly into this building at 11 on a Sunday morning.
Most have got better things to do in their eyes.
Mission is bringing people not only into our buildings but also into contact with the message that Jesus, Paul and all the other Apostles thought so crucial. It’s doing things involving the community that show people that we as Christians have something, this treasure that Jesus talks about, that they might want to possess. It can be done subtly or it can be done extravagantly but we do need to let people see the treasure trove we’re holding.
Throw out the net! For many this message might be building on what they already have heard years ago, for others it might be all new. But Jesus ends by saying that we should be "like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old."
The old is where we’ve come from - for the Jews it was the Jewish Scriptures, for many outside these walls the old might be simply the ways of this world - the new is the message of the kingdom. It’s about where we’re going!
Sow seeds, let others discover the treasure you have found – it’s what Jesus wants us to do, and that should be reason enough.