Tales of pirates and sunken ships, legends of a lost masterpiece, or epic stories of a hidden treasure are the narratives we like to read or watch. Maybe because it's so far from our real life or it's fun and adventurous (again... maybe far from real life). Seriously... think National Treasure, Pirates of Caribbean, or Raiders of the Lost Ark — heroic stories with romance, suspense, ending with fame and fortune.
One similar characteristic throughout each great story is the greater effort it took to discover the treasure. No one had gold and silver falling from the sky. It took carefully laid plans and an enormous amount of execution. There were blood, sweat, and tears. There were barriers, sabotage, and threats. It was no easy task to search and secure the prized possession.
Perceiving where the treasure lies is one thing. Pursuing it is another. And prizing it still another. Each is a part of the process and each requires perseverance and patience.
Ok... enough of the "p" words.
As a believer, most of us know Jesus is our prize (sorry for another "p" word), a treasure, and the abundance we long for. However, He can seem mysterious or elusive. Our Shepherd can appear silent, distant, or absent. Our Emmanuel — which means God with us — can feel anything but close or "with us."
So... is there a solution to experiencing the treasure of His presence? Can we strive or work hard enough to seek Him and stay close? How do we close the gap? Is it on us? Is it on God?
Yes and yes.
Two thoughts here... the Bible proclaims the kingdom of heaven is a treasure (Matthew 10:7, 13:44). Jesus told his friends, "the kingdom of heaven has come near." He was referring to Himself. A divine rescuer had come close to deposit the treasure within their "jars of clay."
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. -2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NIV
There are multiple parables Jesus uses to communicate the value of Himself and His kingdom — a pearl, a cultivated field, yeast, a mustard seed, and a net full of fish. Matthew — a follower of Jesus — is writing to a Jewish audience and emphasizes the kingdom of heaven. That exact phrase — kingdom of heaven — is mentioned 31 times in the book that bears his name. The Jewish people had been anticipating a king from heaven that would conquer and command. However... Jesus was heaven incarnate — not at all what they had imagined or craved.
They did not genuinely know what they wanted. Same for us. Isreal thought they wanted a Commander in Chief, but what they needed was a Prince of Peace. We long for more prosperity, power, and purpose, yet our longing becomes perpetual and never satisfies.
Let's think about what we truly desire. (Hint... it's not a pot of gold or a chest full of jewels.)
We want peace, joy, and wisdom. We want to discern what path to choose or what door to push open. We want to recognize the voice of Jesus and be led by the Holy Spirit's prompt. We want to believe, to belong, and to be loved. The deep places in our hearts are desperate for all Jesus embodies. Paul prays for us in Ephesians 3:19 "to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Everything — peace, joy, wisdom, light for our path, strength for the door, faith, hope, acceptance, and love. Every single thing in the treasure chest. Every. Single. Thing. The fullness of this treasure is within the written Word of God — Jesus Himself — from "In the beginning" to the last "amen."
The second aspect of each illustration Jesus described was work. In every single object lesson, there is striving. The kingdom of heaven did not just show up in someone's inbox or get delivered by Amazon. Each participant planned, prepared, and pursued what they wanted (I know... ).
A sower must plant (Matthew 13:31)
A woman mixes and kneads (Matthew 13:33)
A man ventures and invests (Matthew 13:44)
Another man searches and sells (Matthew 14:45)
Fishermen work, gather, and sort (Matthew 13:47)
The weight and worth of the treasure were fully understood by every person in every situation. And so they "worked" to obtain what they wanted. We may appreciate that Jesus is the kingdom of heaven, and yes, we have access to Him, but how does the worth and the work play out in our practical lives?
Final thought... buried treasure takes effort to secure and then savor. It does not just happen. Prioritize your time with the Lord by reading His Word, learning His voice, and discovering His ways. Pray for the realization and revelation that He is worthy and His glory is weighty. He longs to fill your jar of clay with the treasure of Himself.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. -Psalm 16:11
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law. -Psalm 119:14-18
Now go dig.
Janelle Nobles is lead creator at Hey Ladybirds! and Team Development Coordinator at Passion City Church in Atlanta where she lives with her husband. All the heart-eyes for her nest — kids, in-loves, & g-babies as well as running and quac. She’s obsessed with reading and memorizing the Word and building the local church. Connect on Instagram or Facebook.