A couple of months ago I was reading a book that made reference to a couple of parables found in Matthew 13. The first, found in Matthew 13:44 from the ESV reads:
[Jesus said] 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.
I have always identified and understood that the believer is the person who finds the treasure; and that the treasure is the gospel message of salvation through belief and faith in Jesus.
The book I was reading was Transformed for Life by Derek Prince. Derek indicates that the purpose of parables is to reveal spiritual realities through everyday, material illustrations. He also indicates that his interpretation of the spiritual reality behind this parable is not the only possible interpretation. But the next thing he said startled me. He writes:
the man who found the treasure is Jesus. The field is the world. (This image runs through the seven parables found in this chapter and is stated in Matthew 13:38) What about the treasure? It is God’s people in the world.
To me this is almost a complete rewrite of the purpose and significance of the parable (and indeed the parable of the pearl of great price recorded in Matthew 13:45-46). I had always assumed I was the treasure-hunter or pearl-gatherer. But the parable had always rung a little hollow that I don’t always behave or act like the gospel is this priceless treasure or highly-valued pearl. But to see Jesus as the hunter or gather, and the world as the field, and believers as the treasure or pearl adds a richness and significance to the parable that we otherwise may miss.
Derek’s interpretation demonstrates the great and extravagant love that God has for His people. He values us so highly that He buys a field when everyone else fails to see the value in it. He sees us as pearls of such great price that He is willing to sacrifice anything or everything to secure us. It’s a much better, deeper and richer reading of the parable than I had previously come across.
If you want to hear and read this in Derek’s own voice, check out the DPM radio archive.