Two centuries ago Spain fell to Napoleon Bonaparte’s army. In 1808 Napoleon put his brother, Joseph, on the Spanish throne. As they rushed to vacate the royal palace, the Spanish King and a trusted household servant hid the royal jewels and a set of priceless antique clocks in the walls. Since the palace had hundreds of rooms, the servant cut off a bit of curtain from the rooms where he hid the treasures. Therefore, when the Spanish royal family was restored, they would be able to locate the treasures.
Napoleon’s brother apparently got in touch with his inner Martha Stewart and redecorated the palace, changing all the curtains. When the Spanish regained the palace in 1813, they despaired of finding the two treasures. Their disappearance became legend. A few decades ago a plumber, searching for a leak, opened up one of the walls and found a set of antique clocks! No one has stumbled upon the jewels yet.
Howard Carter, an early 20th century English archeologist, was obsessed with finding a tomb of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh that hadn’t been plundered. He was a real-life Indiana Jones! After years of searching Carter found something special, a set of steps that led down to an unopened tomb. Using a chisel his grandmother had given him on his 17th birthday, Carter opened the door and peered into the space. What did he see? Carter said, “Wonderful things!” It was the tomb of Tutankhamen.
Some treasures are found by stumbling upon them, others by searching for them.
Jesus describes both realities in back to back parables in Matthew 13:44-46. One man stumbles upon a treasure hidden in a field. Another man finds a once in a life-time pearl through rigorous searching.
It’s what happens next that matters. In both parables, the men joyfully sell everything they have so they can buy what they have only dreamed of owning. They both do a quick calculation—they‘re all in.
Jesus invites us to do the same, to ponder the value of life’s ultimate meaning and then take appropriate action. Jesus claims there is no greater treasure than a relationship with God. Whether we’ve stumbled or searched our way to the moment of decision, it’s all in from here on out.
“I am your exceeding and great reward.” (Genesis 15:1).
-Rev Dr William Lewis