The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
What a peculiar parable Jesus tells us to illustrate God's activity in our lives. It may not seem so peculiar at first glance because most of us have harbored a fantasy of finding buried treasure. Perhaps it would be treasure buried in the ground, submerged underwater, or perhaps a painting bought at a flea market that turns out to be a classic. Found treasure captures our imaginations and it's meant to do so in this parable.
In Jesus' time, treasure was a common metaphor for the reward for moral behavior. If you practiced sacrificial love and gave of yourself unselfishly there would be a reward; a treasure awaiting you. I think most of us can relate to this belief that there will be a pay-out for good behavior. We wonder what the treasure will be as our reward.
What makes this parable peculiar is that the treasure is the first thing found when Jesus illustrates the kingdom of God in this parable. The treasure has a quality to it that is both surprising and baffling. Rather than a reward at the end, the treasure is found at the beginning of the story and then buried again. What can this possibly mean for us?
This coming Sunday, I'm going to be preaching on this peculiar parable through a sermon entitled, "Amends and Amens." The sermon will be the most personal sermon I have preached in 33 years as it's related to a phone call I received in August that was a follow up to one of the most tragic experiences in my family's life which happened 20 years ago. This phone call has allowed me to understand Jesus' parable in such a manner that I believe I was able to get Jesus' teaching on a most personal level. I trust when you hear this sermon, you will too.