Jesus speaks of Kingdom of God (or the Kingdom of Heaven) more times in the Gospel than perhaps anything else. But what is this kingdom? The Kingdom dwells among us when God’s will is done on earth as it is in Heaven. The Kingdom reigns wherever the will of God is known and followed. His Kingdom is not equally present at all times and everywhere, which is why we pray for the kingdom to fully come, yet it can be present within a good community, in a loving family, or within a Christian’s soul.
Jesus leads us into the Kingdom of God. He teaches us how to live as kingdom people. There’s an interesting twist contained in Jesus’ teachings: whenever He speaks about the kingdom of God, He is usually teaching us something true about Himself. This is so, because Jesus is the kingdom incarnate. Wherever Jesus is, you find the Kingdom, and wherever the Kingdom is, Jesus is there.
Because of this close identification between Jesus and the Kingdom, we can substitute between these terms and reread Scripture with new eyes. For example, “In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea saying, ‘Repent, for (Jesus Christ) is at hand!’” The beatitude becomes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is (Jesus Christ).” One time, when Jesus sees how his disciples are shooing the little children away, He becomes indignant and says to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for (I) belong to such as these.” And we hear it said, “Seek ye first (Jesus Christ) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” When applied to today’s Gospel, Jesus three parables become revelatory of Jesus Himself.
Jesus is like a treasure buried in a field. This means that Jesus must be found. In the movie Forrest Gump, a down-in-the-dumps Lt. Dan Taylor asks Forrest derisively, “Have you found Jesus, Gump?” Forrest replies, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for Him, Sir.” If I ask you if you’ve found Jesus you might feel like a bit Forrest; you’re baptized, you’re here at church, how could you still need to find him?
Well, think of it this way: do you have a joy and excitement in your relationship with Christ anything like a man who finds a hidden treasure? Does you life feel rich and full of opportunity because you know Him? If not, then you have not yet found Him like He wants you too. We need to seek after Him in prayer and learning. Encounter Him in the Gospels, especially if you never have before. (Do you want to reach the end of your days without ever having read the Gospels?) Jesus is a rich treasure whom we must seek out and discover.
The second parable: Jesus is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. (Notice that Jesus was first the treasure, now He’s the searcher.) This means that Jesus searches after us. We should not despair. He pursues more passionately than a man searching a profit. Jesus seeks us as a man in love. A pearl may get dirty and think it is no longer desirable, but Jesus has the solution for cleansing pearls. He emptied Himself of glory to become man for us, and then he gave everything He had to die as a man for us. Do not forget that if we were the only sinner on earth He would have still come for you. Never despair. Jesus will always pursue you like a man in love.
In the third and final parable, Jesus is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. This means that Jesus confronts us all. As Simenon foretold of The baby Jesus when Mary and Joseph brought Hi to the temple, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” The truth of Jesus Christ confronts all people, even if they’ve never heard the name of Jesus. But we have heard His name, and we must not put off responding to Him forever.
Jesus is the treasure we must seek. We must not despair, for Jesus relentlessly seeks after us. Jesus is the net who confronts us all, so we must not put Him off forever.