In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells two short stories. They are frequently called The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price.
“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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
Most people would say that the treasure and the pearl in these stories are God and His kingdom, and that the man and the merchant represent us. We happen across that which is worth more than everything else, so we give up all to obtain it. This makes sense… but I’m not entirely certain it’s what Jesus meant.
You see, Jesus told other stories that seem similar to these. Specifically I’m referring to the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin. In those stories something of value is missing and the man goes to find it. There is a big difference in those stories, though. The man doing the searching is God. He is pursuing that which is lost to return it to its rightful home.
What if Jesus intended a similar meaning for the stories about the treasure and the pearl? What if we are actually the treasure and the pearl? After all, Jesus gave up all—left His home in glory, died our death—to purchase us back.
Scripture tells us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2). What exactly was that joy? Could it have been you and me? Is it conceivable that the joy was that Jesus was restoring us to an unfettered, untarnished relationship with God?
No, there is nothing inherently valuable about us in and of ourselves. Nothing except that we were created in the image of God. Nothing beyond the great love and compassion of a Creator Who cares more than we can even begin to imagine.
Read those parables again. This time, though, see God as the man, and us—including yourself—as the treasure and the pearl.