The Parables of Fascination
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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46)
Whoever loves his life will lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25)
The question is, "Does the Good News of the Kingdom impose impossible or intolerable demands on one's life?" The answer is, of course, yes -- if one still loves his self-centered life in this world. But the one who sees it as good news gives up his old, selfish life to receive a new, unselfish life.
The Good News is fascination. The Good News is fascinating. If it were not, who could be saved? It's like the word gospel or god-spell. Those who are willing to do God's will are attracted to Yahshua and give up their lives to Him, and all they possess, for the fascinating hope the Gospel presents. The Kingdom of God exerts a fascinating appeal -- a fascination that takes the burden away and gives grace for all the difficulties of the narrow way.
In Acts 14:22, it says that Paul "strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." That was the Good News of the Kingdom, and they received it as good news. It gave them hope, strengthening and confirming them.
If one understands the parables in Matthew 13:44-46, he will see that after the man found the hidden treasure or the pearl, obeying Luke 14:33 ceased to seem like a radical, harebrained decision, but one which he gladly and joyously made, even as the faithful men and women in Hebrews 11 and Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37. The find was so wonderfully and overwhelmingly super-abundant that what he had to give up was nothing in comparison, even as Hebrews 12:2 says: "He endured the cross for the joy set before Him."
The fascination for what he has found overwhelms him and permeates everything he does from then on. "Rejoicing at his find, he went and sold everything he had." This is the theme of the two parables -- a profound joy. They gladly did what they had to do to gain the object of their fascination, just as normal disciples do in giving up their life, not only when they find Yahshua, but also in their daily life living together in community. It does not seem to them like a daily grind. Community life is only a torture chamber to those who do not see the treasure as a cause of rejoicing and profound joy.
Being fully absorbed in the task of gaining the treasure made it automatic for both men to sell all their own possessions. They had no need to think things over first: "Hmmm... Let me see now... Is it really worth it?"
So, re-read Matthew 13:44-46 and Luke 12:31-33, especially verse 34. Whatever people consider valuable is where their heart's energy goes. All their time and energy is spent on what is most valuable to them. Knowing the value of the pearl or the hidden treasure causes them to give no consideration to its cost from then on, until the Kingdom comes.1
What does a person seek first?2 What he values most. And if one is ashamed of Yahshua and His words or gospel, then what is it that he values most?3 What is recorded in Matthew 10:37-38 shows what men commonly love most, and what one must gladly do to gain the hidden treasure. But most do not even see the treasure, for it is hidden from them,4 and John 7:17 tells the reason why the treasure remains hidden from them -- their unwillingness to do God's will.
Matthew 13:44-46 is simple to the one who is willing to do God's will -- the Kingdom of God is of such value that he will give up all he has in order to gain it. This does not mean that he can purchase it with his possessions, but to the contrary, it is something that cannot be compared with the value of his possessions. Overwhelming value is placed on the Kingdom. A person cannot have one without leaving the other behind. The demonstration or the witness of this is what brings the world to its end, and brings the Kingdom of God to earth. Matthew 24:14 is the witness of Matthew 13:44-45. It is people who live their lives to demonstrate and bear witness to the truth of these parables in Mt 13:44-46.5
All who are a part of this witness of their find are as the man in Matthew 13:44 -- rejoicing over his find, he loses his old life to gain it.6 Then, in obedience to Luke 9:23, he begins to daily take up his cross and follow Yahshua, His exceedingly great treasure. All who have found Him to be this Pearl gladly give up their old life, and gladly give up their life daily in the Body of Messiah.7 As 2 Corinthians 4:17 says, there is no comparison of the value of the Kingdom versus one's possessions.8
The living, authentic, corporeal demonstration of the Body of Messiah in accessible places (townships) in view of the watching world, as a witness and a foretaste of the coming Kingdom, projects a fascinating appeal to all who are willing to do God's will. It is so appealing and fascinating that it will not be at all difficult to exchange one's life at the cross, and to live in this kingdom community from now on, enthralled by what he has found.9
The parables of the treasure and of the pearl give us understanding of the full-orbed splendor of the Witness of the Kingdom that is Yahshua's new family10 -- those who do His will, the will of the Father.11 It is only Yahshua's new family in Mark 3:34-35 who can do the Father's will. Only when each recipient of the Holy Spirit draws strength from one another can it be done.
This story in Mt 13:44-46 gives the reason why one would be able to give up everything to follow Him, and it tells why one is able to receive the gift of eternal life, and to live from then on for the sake of Him and His name.12 To live under the demands of the Kingdom does not make those who see the hidden treasure tortured, bitter, or down-trodden. They receive faith and grace to endure to the end13 as they are purified in doing the good works prepared for them.14
They who are able to hear and to see have a profound freedom which is known only to those who are fascinated and captivated by what is truly important and truly valuable. Their burdens become light.15 This is still the cry of the Savior and Redeemer16 -- that there would be true disciples who live faithfully and strictly for the One who saved them. Messiah's yoke replaces the Torah: one must be under Messiah's yoke to be saved, since the new social order of the Gospel replaces the old social order of Sinai. His yoke does not oppress. It is not a legal burden. Why? Because Yahshua is gentle and humble of heart, unlike the rulers in Mark 10:42. He is a servant of all. He lives not for Himself, for His power, or His interests, but completely and exclusively for His Father in heaven and for His kingdom.
Mark 8:35 or 10:25 is not a merciless law, but one which is liberating, like a treasure one finds and begins rejoicing that he can now obey the Gospel's demands with joy. It is a light burden and an easy yoke that enables him to breathe freely, and by this a nation is founded upon Messiah's name and His word.17
His commandments are not addressed to isolated individuals but to a community, such as was the result of men and women receiving the Holy Spirit.18 His commandments cannot be obeyed by a Christian because he can only claim to see and to know Him,19 since he does not obey Him.
The Sermon on the Mount can only be lived out alongside of others who have undertaken the journey together as the people of God. Only then is His burden light. Other burdens were too heavy to carry.20 If the law of Messiah is not fulfilled, He died in vain.21 Only where the community exists, as in Matthew 16:18 (the community that sticks together at all costs, where everyone helps one another) can the law of Messiah be fulfilled. Otherwise, it's just the Christian church life, which does not demonstrate the value of the Pearl,22 but is only a counterfeit.
So the treasure that is hidden is as:
But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him" -- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
Yahshua is our exceedingly great reward.23 He is beyond all comparison.24 But Matthew 13:47-50 also says what the Kingdom of Heaven is like -- that there will be many who will be the bad fish who do not see the overwhelming value of salvation as an exceedingly great reward,25 beyond all comparison to anything else one could offer.
So, all a man can do is give up all he has -- his life, his family, his wife, his children, his house, his farm, and yes, his tractor, also. Then the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation,26 from faith to faith and ever increasing.27 Matthew 13:44-46 shows us what the Kingdom of God is like, as what must be witnessed if the end of the age is going to come,28 and its fruit produced.29
If one finds and properly values the Pearl of Great Price, then he will join himself to those who bear the fruit of the Kingdom as a witness to the world.30 He will not have any other thought than to obtain that Pearl and what it yields -- the fruit of the Kingdom. The Gospel is the power of God if it is seen as Good News. The witness of it in the life of the twelve-tribed nation is the Kingdom. Those who see the Kingdom,31 and enter the Kingdom,32 are those who produce its fruit by becoming the witness which demonstrates its worth, as each one walks in the works prepared for him and is made ready for Messiah.33 That witness is made possible by: Ephesians 4:2-3, John 13:35, John 15:8, John 17:11,23, etc., etc., etc.!
So, the question is whether the Gospel of the Kingdom imposes intolerable demands, or whether the Kingdom compels a fascination which takes away the burden from all that it demands.34
What can make someone hate his life in this world? Expressing that hatred is leaving the world for Messiah's kingdom. Unless one sees the Pearl or finds the hidden Treasure, nothing else can enthrall him enough to be converted, born again, transferred out of Satan's kingdom and into the kingdom of God's beloved Son.35
If the Good News is not a good spell, if it does not fascinate someone, does not attract, allure, and all the rest of what the word draw means, then there can be NO salvation such as Acts 2:38-41. The "many other words" attracted them to do such a radical thing as follows in verses 42-47. Only these kinds of hearers can receive the Holy Spirit, to be entrusted with such a prized gift as the very life of God, becoming one Spirit with Him,36 which is no light thing.
The community life is the means by which one is proved or tried. One's faith is tested37 to be recognized, to be proven, to be tried as metals are tried by fire. Thus, one is purified, being approved as accepted men and women in the furnace of adversity.38
The only route into the desired haven is through the "narrows" -- the "dire straits" of normal community life.39 Going through "the narrows" of community life is the only way to the Kingdom.40 Community life as Acts 4:32-35 is the Strait Gate,41 which is contracted by pressure, which as one endures in love, joy, peace, patience, etc., and self-control makes him into Messiah's own image.42
- 1. Matthew 6:9-11,33
- 2. Luke 14:26; John 12:25; Mark 8:35
- 3. Hebrews 12:2
- 4. Matthew 13:14; 15:8
- 5. Isaiah 52:15; 53:10-11; Daniel 2:44
- 6. Romans 6:2-5; Matthew 10:38
- 7. Acts 26:7
- 8. 1 Corinthians 2:9; Mark 10:17-22,23,28-30
- 9. 2 Corinthians 5:15
- 10. Mark 3:35
- 11. Matthew 7:21
- 12. Mark 10:29; 8:35
- 13. Matthew 24:13
- 14. Ephesians 2:8-10; Revelation 19:8
- 15. Matthew 11:28-30
- 16. Ecclesiasticus 51:23-27; 24:22-25
- 17. 1 John 2:4; 5:2-3; Luke 13:23-24
- 18. 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:32-47
- 19. John 9:41
- 20. Galatians 6:2
- 21. Isaiah 53:10-11
- 22. Ephesians 4:1-6; John 13:35; 17:23
- 23. Genesis 15:1
- 24. Romans 8:18-21; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Matthew 13:44-46
- 25. Galatians 3:29
- 26. Romans 1:16-17
- 27. 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 6:20
- 28. Matthew 24:14
- 29. Matthew 21:43; Daniel 2:44
- 30. Matthew 21:43; 24:14
- 31. John 3:3
- 32. John 3:5
- 33. Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 2:10; Revelation 19:8
- 34. 2 Timothy 2:12
- 35. Colossians 1:13
- 36. 1 Corinthians 6:17
- 37. James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:6-9; 2 Timothy 2:12
- 38. James 1:12; Romans 16:10; 14:18; 2 Corinthians 10:18; 13:7; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 13:5
- 39. Acts 14:22; Psalm 107:25-30, New Jerusalem Bible
- 40. Acts 14:22
- 41. Luke 13:23-24
- 42. 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:1-3; blameless as Genesis 17:1; Galatians 3:29