Being found by the Kingdom of heaven
When my children were small I would sometimes play hide-and-seek with them. We would start by them hiding from me. It usually was quite easy to find them, because I could hear them giggling as they “hid” from me. I would then open a cupboard and say out loud, “I wonder if they are hiding in the cupboard.” Then I would look behind a curtain and say, “I wonder if they are hiding behind the curtain.” Usually, at that point, my one son would become impatient and shout out loud, “No Daddy! Here we are!” After I had “found” them, it would be my turn to hide and I usually chose an obvious place, such as “hiding” under a blanket on the floor in the middle of the room. And then they would be very excited when they found me.
What is remarkable in these parables in Matthew 13 is that the emphasis is not so much on the “finder” but rather on that which is found. It is not we as humans who have to put in an effort to find the kingdom of heaven, but rather it is the kingdom of heaven finding us, through the grace and love of Jesus Christ. It is the treasure and the pearl, “undiscovered” and waiting to be “discovered”, but at the same time being so obviously visible, that its discovery cannot be attributed to human achievement, but rather to the grace of God who wants the kingdom to be found by all people.
And then these parables tell us about the joy encountered when this treasure is found. Once the “finder” realises the value of the treasure and the value of the pearl, the finder is willing to sacrifice everything else in order to obtain this treasure.
But then, in the parable about the net, it is clear that being found by God has certain implications. When one has been found by God, life-change takes place. Matthew, in his gospel, often refers to this life-change, the willingness to do the will of God. This is not to say that the kingdom of heaven can be deserved, but rather that the kingdom plays a significant role in changing our lives. “Discovering” the kingdom of heaven, compels us to introspectively look at our own lives.
Matthew tells us clearly what it is that God desires from us: To live a life characterised by love (Matthew 22:36-39). In Jesus’s final sermon as recorded by Matthew (chapters 24 & 25), He also emphasises that the love (or the lack of love) for those who are in need will ultimately determine to what extent the kingdom of heaven had been able to transform our own lives (25:31-46).
We are surrounded by people who are in need of love. People experience rejection in many ways (poverty, sickness, undesirable life circumstances, etc). Realising that we have “discovered” the greatest treasure on earth, compels us to look at other people with new eyes and to demonstrate the love which we have experienced, to those who so deeply desire to be loved.