AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 13:44-58
The Great Treasure
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
Having entered into a house (v. 36), Jesus gave to His disciples another parable. The story is told of a man who found treasure on a piece of land which he immediately purchased. In the ancient world, it was not uncommon for people to bury their treasures in the earth for safekeeping. In the parable the man buys the field so he can keep the treasure. The man knew the value of the field.
Concerning the treasure, various suggestions have been made as to what it might be. It is possible that the Kingdom of Heaven itself, the Church, is in view. Though many have a distorted view of the Kingdom of Heaven, and therefore the Church, it remains the most glorious institution on earth. The Church is a priceless treasure.
Of course, there would be no Kingdom of Heaven, no Church, without Jesus. Christ is the greatest treasure given to mankind. Imagine what the world would be like without the teachings of Jesus. The world has for wisdom the philosophy of Plato, and the morality of Confucius, but Christ offers eternal life to those who find Him (John 5:39). Therefore, let it be proclaimed that “Jesus Christ is the true Treasure; in Him there is an abundance of all that which is rich and useful, and will be a portion for us: all fulness (Col 1:19; John 1:16): treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3), of righteousness, grace, and peace; these are laid up for us in Christ; and, if we have an interest in him, it is all our own” (Matthew Henry).
As Christ is the true Treasure. so, the gospel is the field in which the Treasure is hid, both in the Old Testament and the New. The gospel is hid to those who hate the Lord, but it is known to those who are the heirs of God in the Kingdom. “The gospel “is hid as the milk in the breast, the marrow in the bone, the manna in the dew, the water in the well (Isaiah 12:3), the honey in the honey-comb. It is hidden, not in a garden enclosed, or a spring shut up, but in a field, an open field; whoever will, let him come, and search the scriptures; let him dig in this field (Prov. 2:4); and whatever royal mines we find, they are all our own, if we take the right course” (Matthew Henry).
Once the value of Christ in the gospel is perceived, by the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, every effort will be made to make Christ one’s own so that it can be said, “My beloved is mine, and I am His” (Song of Solomon 2:16). Therein is the hope of glory.
The Pearl of Great Price
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Beautiful pearls were valued in the ancient world. He who knew the value of a pearl that was exquisite, would sell everything to get that one pearl, that pearl of great price. “Jesus Christ is a Pearl of great price, a Jewel of inestimable value, which will make those who have it rich, truly rich, rich toward God; in having Him [Jesus], we have enough to make us happy here and forever” (Matthew Henry).
Have you found the Pearl of Great Price? Have you exchanged all you are, and all you have to acquire Him? Elsewhere, Jesus put it this way. “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). How much value do you put on your soul?
The early Christians valued their souls. They were spiritual merchants. They found the Pearl of Great Price in the person of Jesus and engaged in a great transaction for what will it profit us to know Christ, if we do not know Him as ours, made to us wisdom? (1 Cor. 1:3)?
“Those who would have a saving interest in Christ, must be willing to part with all for Him, leave all to follow Him. Whatever stands in opposition to Christ, or in competition with Him for our love and service, we must cheerfully quit it, though ever so dear to us. A man may buy gold too dear, but not this Pearl of Price” (Matthew Henry).
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
The world is a vast sea, filled with men who, in their natural state, are like fishes in the sea that have no ruler over them (Hab. 1:14). When the gospel is preached, it is like a net being thrown into the sea to successfully catch something in particular, for Christ is sovereign of the sea. Christians are fishers of men, employed in casting and drawing the net to bring people to Christ.
Unfortunately, the net gathers both good fish, and bad, which necessitates a great separation. “When the net is full and drawn to the shore, there shall be a separation between the good and bad that were gathered in it. Hypocrites and true Christians shall then be parted; the good shall be gathered into vessels, as valuable, and therefore to be carefully kept, but the bad shall be cast away, as vile and unprofitable; and miserable is the condition of those who are cast away in that day” (Matthew Henry).
The End of this Age
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
With regard to the great separation that is to take place at the end of this age, angels play a vital role. One day holy angles shall help administer Divine justice and divide the wicked from the just.
“We need not ask how they will distinguish them when they have both their commission and their instructions from him that knows all men, and particularly knows them that are his, and them that are not, and we may be sure there shall be no mistake or blunder either way” (Matthew Henry).
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
As a prophet, Jesus reveals the future to His disciples, and warns all unbelievers of a terrible fate to come apart from repentance, and trust in Him as Lord and Savior. There is a heaven to gain, and hell to fear. So important is this gospel truth of a Divine separation that Jesus repeats His fearful warning in this series of parables. Let the word go forth.
“There is a furnace so hot, that when the ungodly are cast into it, they shalt be as the crackling of thorns under a pot. There is a burning so exceedingly fierce that all those tormented in its flames spend their time in “weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” There is a furnace “where the worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched.” Where it is I know not. Methinks it is not down here in the bowels of the earth. It were a sad thought that earth hath hell within her own bowels, but that it is somewhere in the universe the Eternal has declared.
Men and women! Ye who love not God, a few more years will set you on a journey through the vast unknown to find out where this place is. Should ye die Godless and Christless, a strong hand will seize you on your death-bed, and irresistibly you will be borne along through the vast expanse of ether, unknowing whither you are tending, but with the dread thought that you are in the hand of a demon, who with an iron hand is bearing you most swiftly on.
Down he plungeth thee! Ah! what a fall were that my friends! to find yourselves there in that desperate land of torments! May you never know it!
Words cannot tell you of it now. I can but just call up a few dread horrible emotions; I can but picture it in a few short rough words: may you never know it!
Would ye wish to escape: there is but one door. Would ye be saved: there is but one way. Would ye find entrance into heaven and escape from hell: there is but one road. The road is this— “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.”
To believe is to trust in Jesus. As an old divine used to say, “Faith is recumbency on Christ.” But it is too hard a word. He meant, faith is lying down on Christ. As a child lieth on its mother’s arms, so is faith; as the seaman trusteth to his bark, so is faith; as the old man leaneth on his staff, so is faith; as I may trust, there is faith. Faith is to trust. Trust in Jesus, he will never deceive you” (C. H. Spurgeon).
51 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.
There is no reason to doubt the Disciples did understand the parables of Jesus for when they were in doubt, they asked for clarification as in verse 36.
It is possible for every believer to understand clearly the teaching of Jesus in particular, and the Bible as a whole, because understanding is not based on human intelligence, but upon the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 7:17; 1 John 2:27). Let every Christian pray to be taught of the Lord, as His words are remembered and illuminated by the Spirit.
The Good Householder
52 Then said he unto them, Therefore, every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
Those who are taught of the Lord, like the Disciples, will have something important to say to those who are in need of wisdom, counsel, or comfort. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” ((Prov. 25:11). But the heart must be prepared. Ezra prepared his heart to teach in Israel (Ezra 7:6, 10).
The Astonishing Christ
53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Jesus knew that His brothers and sisters, and neighbors, were offended by Him. The Greek term means to be scandalized. Mary and Joseph were not displeased with Jesus because they knew His uniqueness, but others believed Jesus was bringing shame to Himself by His fantastic claims and teachings. The price they all paid for their unbelief was an absence of miracles in their midst.
58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.
In 1858, a scientific expedition passed through what we now call the Grand Canyon. A young lieutenant by the name of Ives made the following entry in his report:
“This region we last explored, the Grand Canyon, is, of course, altogether valueless. It can be approached only from the south, and after entering it there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first and doubtless will be the last party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended that the Colorado River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be forever unvisited and undisturbed.”
Obviously, the young man did not see what he was seeing. He did not appreciate the values of the Grand Canyon. Rather than being the last party to visit it, his was but the first. Many people since have seen and appreciated the values of the Grand Canyon that this young officer missed (Bobby Scobey).
In like manner, the family and neighbors of Jesus did not appreciate Him. They did not understand His value, and so they missed out on many blessings.
“Unbelief is the great obstruction to Christ’s favors. All things are in general possible to God (Matt. 19:26), but then it is to him that believes as to the particulars (Mark 9:23). The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, but then it is to everyone that believes (Rom. 1:16). So that if mighty works be not wrought in us, it is not for want of power or grace in Christ, but for want of faith in us. By grace ye are saved, and that is a mighty work, but it is through faith” (Matthew Henry).