July 12, 2017
A Hidden Treasure
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Jesus says that the treasure was hidden in the world. How were we, the church, hidden in the world? In the Parable of the Leaven, the word “hid” was used in a negative sense. Does “hid” have a similar negative connotation here in verse 44?
In the context of this parable, the symbols are almost all positive. First, the man as Christ is positive, but then the world appears, which may not seem all that positive. Yet, next comes “joy” and Christ’s self-sacrifice for the treasure. These positive things surround the word “hid.” It seems that “hid” is a little more positive than its usage in verse 33. How then is the church hidden in the world? We need to remember that it is hidden in the world before its members’ calling.
Notice in verse 44 that the man finds the treasure hidden in the world, and once he finds it, he hides it again. Ephesians 2:1-7 speaks of the less positive of the two hidings:
And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Where were we hidden before? In the field, which is the world. How were we hidden? We were hidden because we were just like everybody else. We were dead in trespasses and sin, and we conducted ourselves “according to the prince of the power of the air.” We were hidden in plain sight because everybody else was just like us—but we have been found.
Once Christ found us, what did He do? He hid us again. What does this mean? How does Christ hide us after He finds us? John 17:11, 14-18 provides an answer:
Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. . . . I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
How did Christ hide us? By sending us right back into the world! He does not glorify us immediately or put us on a pedestal, but simply returns us into the world. The world hides us, but in a different way after our calling than before it. Though we are no longer of the world, we still look like it. We have not changed much except internally, spiritually. So we go back into the world and live our daily lives, and people fail to recognize us for what we are unless some matter of the truth comes up, as Jesus says in John 17:17: “Sanctify them by Your truth.”
In layman’s terms this is, “Set them apart by Your truth.” The truth we live by—God’s truth in us—makes us different from everybody else. To look at us walking down the street, for the most part, we are hidden; we are average Joes. But if a matter of truth suddenly becomes important—say, an issue of the Sabbath comes up that puts us at odds with our boss or teacher—we immediate become different, set apart, separated from them. Of course, our lives should be showing that we are living by God’s way all the time, but for the most part, we are hidden from this world’s view by virtue of living among them.
The parable does not say that Christ finds us in the field and then hides us somewhere else. It says that He gives up everything He has to buy the field. Christ buys the world because that is where His treasure is—hidden in it but in a slightly different way than when He found it. We are no longer hidden in the world because we are living like the world and committing the sins of worldy people. Instead, we are hidden in the world because we are, frankly, just average people, and unless the truth comes up in the flow of our daily lives, we seem just like everybody else.