A Happy Trade-Off…John Piper on Matthew 13:44


 

John Piper, in a message, “The Kingdom of Heaven is a Treasure“:

The Main Lesson from This Verse

The question today is: What do we learn about the kingdom of God here in Matthew 13:44? We learn one main thing: The kingdom of God is so valuable that losing everything on earth, but getting the kingdom, is a happy trade-off. Having the omnipotent, saving reign of Christ in our lives is so valuable that, if we lose everything, in order to have it, it is a joyful sacrifice.

The Meaning and Value of the Kingdom of Heaven

So let’s read it slowly and see this carefully. “The kingdom of heaven . . .”—I am taking that in its full, biblical context of the reign of God and Christ, triumphing over everything that stands between you and everlasting life and joy, if you will treasure it more than anything else. In other words, I think we can treat the kingdom of God here almost synonymously with salvation or with reconciliation with God through the work of Christ—because the kingdom of God is the rule of God to save us, and to save us is to bring us from destruction into the enjoyment of Christ forever.

matthew1344Let’s keep reading in verse 44: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field”—so the focus is on the value of the kingdom. The worth of having God ruling over you and, for you, over everything else. It’s not hard to see why that is so valuable. If the omnipotent, all-wise God is ruling over all things for your joy, everything must be working for your good, no matter how painful. And in the end God will triumph over all evil and all pain. So this kingdom is a treasure.

Keep reading: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” I don’t think we should press the details here. Parables usually aren’t like that. They make one main point. And the point here is not that the kingdom is bought, but that if it costs you everything you have, it’s worth it. Notice two things: The man sold everything he had, and he did it with joy. “In his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” The kingdom of God is so valuable that losing everything on earth, but getting the kingdom, is a happy trade-off. That’s the main point.

The apostle Paul expresses this very thing in Philippians 3:7-8, ‘Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” In the parable the man sells everything he has so that he can have the kingdom. In Philippians 3:8, Paul suffers the loss of all things that he may gain Christ. I think those are virtually identical realities.

The point here is not that you buy the kingdom or barter for the kingdom or negotiate for the kingdom. The kingdom of God is received without pay, like a poor child, not a rich business man. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15). You received without paying; give without pay” (Matthew 10:8).

So the point here in Matthew 13:44 and in Philippians 3:8 is that the people who receive the kingdom treasure it more than everything else. You don’t buy it. You get it freely because you want it more than you want anything else. It’s as if a poor child entered a toy store and the owner said: you can have the best and most expensive toy in this store if you want it more than anything else. In other words, there is a condition for having the kingdom—for having the King on your side and as your friend—but the condition is not wealth or power or intelligence or eminence. The condition is that you prize the kingdom more than you prize anything else. The point of selling everything in this parable is simply to show where your heart is. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). And if your heart is to have the kingdom above all things, then Luke 12:32 comes true for you: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” To give you the kingdom!

So the point of Matthew 13:44 is that the kingdom of God is so valuable that losing everything on earth, but getting the kingdom, is a happy trade-off. Or to be more personal and specific, we can lose everything with joy if we gain Christ. Don’t miss the word “joy” in this verse: In his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” The loss of all things is not sad if we gain Christ.

Oh, that God would make us real in our seeing and savoring Christ and his saving work above all things.

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