THE KING’S BUSINESS
In this parable the great value of the kingdom is brought out—it is a “treasure” hidden from the eyes of men. Jesus spoke the words in a land where treasure was often hidden for security and sometimes found by accident. The man in this case stumbled on the treasure without seeking for it. He represents the man who stum- bles on the Gospel truth entirely without his own seeking. The fact that the “field” represents “the world” in the parable of the tares does not necessitate our interpret ing it as the world in this parable. This is evident from the fact that in verse 44 the “treasure” represents one thing and in verse 52 something entirely different. The man had to “sell all” that he had to get the field and the treasure it contained, and we must give up all that we have if we would gain Christ and the treasure that is in Him (Luke 14:33). What the man sold and gave up was little indeed in compar ison with what he got. And what we sell or give up to gain Christ is little indeed in comparison with what we get (Phil. 3:7, 8). It is not likely that this man, after he had got his treasure talked much of the sacri fice he had made in order to acquire it. It is the constant teaching of the Bible that salvation is a free gift (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 6:23), but there is a sense in which it is “bought” (Isa. 55:1; Rev. 3:8; Prov. 23 :23; Matt. 25:9, 10); there are sacrifices that must be made if we are to obtain eternal life. Jesus sought a treasure in us in this world and gave up all that He had in order to gain it (2 Cor. 8:9; 12:2). There is a similarity between the parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of the pearl of great price, but there is a difference too. In the one parable the treasure was found by one not looking for it; in the other the one who finds the one pearl of great price is “seeking goodly pearls.” So there are those who are earnestly seeking the truth when they find the kingdom. The pearls sought were wisdom or truth in general; the one pearl found is He in whom all truth is incarnate (John 14:6). Jesus is the one pearl of great price. In verse 44
for heaven and the other for hell. ' For tunately, it will be the angels and not men who do the separating (v. 41). Both his tory and the Word of God warn us against deciding that all that appears “among the wheat” must itself be wheat. While the tares were not distinguishable from the wheat until they began to grow, they* were tares from the very outset. There were those who wished to root up the tares at once but the time was not ripe nor were they competent to the task. There are those today who in their haste long to ex tirpate the sons of the Evil One at once from the world but the Master says “Let them grow together until the harvest. Prem ature separation by religious persecution would mean injury to wheat as well as de struction to tares. This jj too history has abundantly proven. This parable does not forbid Church discipline; for “the field” is not the Church but “the world” (v. 38). Church discipline is positively commanded in the Bible (1 Cor. 5:3-5, 11; Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14). In the delay in separat ing the tares from the wheat we have an other illustration of God’s long-suffering (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). Separation comes at last; it comes in “the end (literally, “the completion” or “consummation”) of the age” (v. 39 R. V. marg.) “The reapers are the angels,” The angels are the ministers of God’s boundless grace toward the “sons of the kingdom” and the executioners of His wrath toward the “sons of the Evil One.” The “tares” are to be “gathered,” and the “wheat” is to be “gathered,” but the one for burning in the “furnace of fire,” where there is inconsolable grief-and impo tent rage, the other into God’s storehouse, “the kingdom of their Father,” where they shall “shine forth as the sun.” Is the fire literal? It is in the interpretation of the parable as well as in the parable itself. Evil is not to gradually disappear from the world but to grow side by side with the
wheat until the harvest. Wednesday, February 24. Matthew 13:44-46.
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