Matthew 13:44

ESV “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.
NIV The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
NASB The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells everything that he has, and buys that field.
CSB "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.
NLT The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
KJV Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

What does Matthew 13:44 mean?

Jesus is speaking in parables to describe the kingdom of heaven. This time, He compares the kingdom of heaven to treasure found hidden in a field. The man who finds the treasure does not simply take it. Instead, he leaves it there, sells everything he has, and buys the field in order to get the treasure it contains.

It was common in this era to hide money or other belongings in the ground. Banks, as we think of them in the modern world, simply did not exist. Poverty and political turmoil made everyone vulnerable to having their possessions stolen or taken by those in power. It would have been more common then, compared to now, for a stash of valuables to be left in the ground because the previous owner died without letting anyone know they were there. Jesus uses this idea to describe the kingdom of heaven.

By rights, such accidentally discovered treasure would belong to the owner of the land. Local laws and customs seem to suggest that so long as that treasure remained buried, it was considered part of the field. If it was removed from the earth, it was the property of whomever owned the land. In other words, the treasure could not simply be taken—that would be theft. However, if the field's owner sold the land, he would also be selling any buried valuables. The new owner would be legally free to dig up and take such treasure. The point is not detailing of property law, however. Christ's message is that the kingdom of heaven is worth trading for everything a person owns, in order to come into "possession" of it.

This is a difficult principle for humanity to accept. In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus will famously tell a rich young man to sell all he owns and follow Him (Matthew 19:21). This comment is given specifically to that person, in order to prove that he's unwilling to follow Jesus if it means losing his wealth (Matthew 19:22). For this reason, Jesus says rich people enter the kingdom of heaven with great difficulty (Matthew 19:23). Worldly wealth makes us feel secure, despite it having no eternal value. It's easy to become addicted to comforts, and to lose an eternal perspective.

Some commentators read this parable differently, seeing the treasure as the people of Israel and Jesus as the man who sacrificed all He owned—the riches of heaven, His life—to buy the field in order to redeem them. However, this seems to insert meaning into the parable that is not obvious from the text. The man in the parable acts to gain something more valuable than what He sacrifices; Scripture elsewhere makes it clear that God did not choose Israel because of some special worth (Deuteronomy 9:4–6).

The larger idea of the parable is that any sacrifice is worth belonging to the kingdom of heaven. That theme is underscored by the following parable, as Jesus ties the meaning of both together.
What is the Gospel?
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