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 (Matt. 13:44).
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it (Matt. 13:45, 46).
What do these two parables teach us?
First, salvation is a matter of individual appropriation. In each you have one person seeking after that that is valuable. There is no concept in the Bible of group salvation; not spiritually. Yes, there are times when groups or nations were delivered, but those were physical “salvation” – not a redemption of the soul.
In the parables, Jesus shows the great value of spiritual blessings in the kingdom. As such, He describes what our attitudes and actions must be as individuals. We must each decide to obey the Lord’s commands, just as the Samaritans and the Ethiopian did (Acts 8:12, 13, 36-38). We will be individually judged,
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10).
We are not even held accountable for what our parents or children do (Eze. 18:20).
Hence, it is not the responsibility of others to save me. It is my responsibility. You and I must put forth the effort to find and secure the kingdom.
Yes, we are to teach others the gospel, encourage them in the faith, and rebuke them if they stray, but ultimately their salvation rests on them. We can plant and water, but we cannot give the increase (1 Cor. 3:5, 6). Each is personally responsible for his or her actions.
Second, the parables teach us we must be willing to part with everything to obtain the treasure of heaven. Paul stated as much when he wrote about his own life and sacrifice for the Lord.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Phil. 3:7, 8).
The treasure is salvation, a clean conscience, fellowship with God, and ultimately eternal life. Nothing earthly compares. We ought to gladly part with anything that could potentially keep us from obtaining that great treasure.
Notice again that to obtain the treasure of the pearl of great price, the men sold “all” that they had. They did not sell most or all but one thing. In other words, as Christians, we must be “all in” or we will fail to obtain the prize. We must fully surrender our lives and all over which we have power or possession to the Lordship of our Savior. Anything less is to fall short.
Thirdly, the parables teach us we ought to take immediate action. While anyone and everyone can potentially obtain the treasure, we must treat it like there is only one. Paul said as we run the race with the idea that only one receives the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). This will cause us to be diligent.
In light of the parables, this means we must act quickly or lose the opportunity. If we put off buying the field or pearl, then it will be easier to get distracted, settle for something of lesser value, or turn down the opportunity the next time it presents itself. Delay sometimes means death—death of enthusiasm, conviction, or urgency to do the right thing. Therefore, let us take immediate action.
The final point is that some are seeking a kingdom and others are not. It appears the man who bought the field just happened across it and found the treasure (Matt. 13:44). The merchant, on the other hand, was seeking beautiful pearls (Matt. 13:45).
Some people are not looking for the kingdom of God. The Samaritan woman at the well was not seeking the kingdom when she met Jesus that day (Jn. 4). She was living an immoral life and simply going about her daily chores. However, once she realized what was before her (the water of life), she turned her attention to learning more and became convinced (Jn. 4:19-30).
Others are diligently seeking the kingdom. The Ethiopian eunuch was a spiritually zealous man. When the evangelist met him on the road, he was reading in Isaiah seeking a deeper understanding of God’s will – he was seeking the pearl of great price (Acts 8:27-34). Philip showed him that pearl and he bought it right away (Acts 8:35-39).
We do not always know if someone is seeking the kingdom or not. We cannot read the heart or forecast another’s reaction. All we can do is show them the treasure and let them decide to obtain it or not.