The Most Important Thing
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again, and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field. (Matthew 13:44)
When you walk through the doors of your company each morning it is all about making money. When you shell out your hard earned cash to put your children into baseball and basketball camps, dancing classes, and golf lessons, you want to give them the opportunity to succeed at something they love. And when you put your children in the best school you can afford you are doing it to insure their future success in the world. We all do it. We are ‘can do’ people and we want our children to be ‘can do’ too.
But consider the words of our Lord Jesus in one of his kingdom parables of Matthew 13, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again, and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.’ A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning and Jesus gives several in quick succession at this juncture of Matthew’s Gospel. He refers to the kingdom of heaven. What is it? It is the redemptive rule and reign of Christ in the world over his people.1 Be sure of this, prior to Jesus’ incarnation the devil ruled the world. John tells us that Jesus came into the world to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). He said the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). He was deceiving the nations, convincing them that many roads lead to peace with God (2 Cor. 4:4). He still deceives whole communities (like the Mormons in Utah, like the Hindus in India, like the Muslims in Saudi Arabia, like the secularists and moralists in America); but Jesus has bound the devil (Rev. 20:1-3) and is plundering his house (Matt. 12:29). This means that the devil’s hold on entire nations is being broken by the power of the gospel. People in all of these places I just mentioned are coming to Christ. The devil is also the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). He loves to tempt Christians to serious sin, telling them that God is all grace and will easily forgive their sin; and when they listen to him, the devil then says, ‘Now there is no hope for you. God could never forgive you for what you just did.’ And then the devil is the great destroyer (John 10:10). He was a murderer and liar from the beginning (John 8:44). He hates your Christian testimony, your Christian family, and your Christian church; and he will do all he can to bring you down. How else can you explain many devoted Christians you know who have fallen into serious sin and apostasy!
But Christ Jesus now reigns, sitting victoriously at the right hand of his Father (Heb. 12:2). At his first coming, as he began his ministry he said, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:15). Mark repeatedly records how the demons feared Jesus and submitted to him (Mark 1:21ff, 5:1ff, 7:24ff, 9:17ff). So practically what does the kingdom of heaven mean for believers? You enter it only through repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15, Acts 2:38, Acts 20:21); it brings position (Eph. 2:63:18ff), peace (Rom. 5:1), presence (Heb. 13:5), and power (2 Tim. 1:7).
In this parable Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is far more valuable than any treasure we can have in this world. Like the man who finds a treasure in a field and sells everything to buy the field and thus procure the treasure in it, so we ought far more to seek first his kingdom. You know this ought to mark your life but you still tend to seek these lesser things. What’s so wrong about pursuing fame and fortune in the entertainment industry? What’s so bad about sending your children to camps, dance classes, or the best schools? Nothing, as such; but the good is the enemy of the best. May it be we diligently and zealously pursue these lesser things precisely because we do not comprehend the treasure we now possess! We spend our time, money, and emotions on things we can see rather than the treasure of Christ’s kingdom which we cannot see. We have victory over the world, flesh, and devil but give into them because we fail to tap into our vast spiritual resources.
So, how can we seek the most important thing? Know the treasure you possess. Why not start your day by talking to yourself about your treasure. And what is it? You have position. You are seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. You are part of an eternal kingdom which is the exact opposite of everything in the world. The last will be first. God exalts the humble. The poor in spirit are happy. The mournful are happy. The gentle inherit the earth. God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the things which are wise. No one can snatch you out of your Father’s hand. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
You have peace with God. You are no longer his enemy, no longer under his wrath and condemnation. You are able to have a peace that passes all understanding every day, all day. The next time you are anxious, worried, or fearful heed Paul’s command, ‘Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.’ And what happens when we do? ‘The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 4:6-7). He will give you that very moment a profound peace the world cannot fathom.
You know Jesus is always with you, not merely in thought (like one who says, ‘Though I will be out of town tomorrow when you face the surgery, I will be with you in spirit.’) True, the Spirit indwells you but Charles Hodge gloriously puts forth the truth that Jesus as the God-Man is always with his people, enabling them to pray to him, to cry out to him, to be corrected by him, to gain holiness from him.2 Literally and gloriously, Jesus is always with you in the fulness of his being.
And you have his power in you, a power to fight the good fight of faith, to live as more than conquerors, to forgive others, to love your enemies, to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, to bless those who persecute you, to die to self, joyfully and willingly to suffer for Jesus when called to it. In other words, you have all you need pertaining to life and godliness.
Purpose daily, therefore, to go deeply with Jesus. Be done with lesser things.
- For an excellent practical definition of ‘kingdom of God’ I recommend What Is the Mission of the Church?, written by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, pages 115-139.
- Charles Hodge, Princeton Sermons (Banner of Truth), page 51.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. He planted (2003) and served as Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 2011. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at email@example.com.
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