In two short parables in a row Jesus uses the phrase “he goes and sells all that he has and buys it”. The treasure hidden in a field and the pearl of great price are ideas so easily abused when the kingdom of heaven becomes a human organization rather than a spiritual power within us. I wonder how many cult leaders over the years have gained control of the earthly possessions of gullible followers by convincing them that they would receive the pearl of great price only within the cult.

We really have to step back into the culture of Jesus’ day to understand some aspects of these parables. There were no banks as we know them. Treasure was often hidden in the ground for safekeeping. They knew nothing about cultured pearls so the value of a pearl was greater than it is today.

There are problems in taking these parables at face value. Obviously the one man was digging in someone else’s field and bought the field without letting the original owner know it was there. Is that an ethical way to obtain the kingdom of heaven?

If you sell everything in order to buy a pearl, how do you provide food and shelter except by selling the pearl?

But do these things matter? It seems that both parables are talking about something worth sacrificing everything else in order to possess. Maybe Jesus is simply talking about the priority of values.

Keeping it in the context of “the kingdom of heaven” what would you value the most?

Not everyone comes up with the same answer. For some it is present security. For others it is an assurance of future in paradise. Let me recommend grace.

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