Sabbath School commentary for discussion on December 11, 2021.
Editor’s note: This week's Adult Bible Study Guide lesson covers how Deuteronomy is referenced by later writings in the Bible. To go along with that discussion, here is an excerpt from Tom Stone’s book In the Shadow of the Pyramids: A Reflective Commentary on the Narrative of Deuteronomy that looks at connections between Deuteronomy and the teachings of Jesus.
Amongst all the earth-shattering things Jesus may have said to his friends on the road to Emmaus was the true meaning of the two quickfire parables in Matthew 13:44–46:
“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. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
So what do you think this means?
Jesus may have asked Cleopas and his companion the same question.
“Well . . . that one,” the pair may have responded, “doesn’t it mean the kingdom of God comes to people who give up everything they have for God, like us? We gave up everything—our livelihoods, our homes—to walk with Jesus. But look what good it did us!”
“Well, Cleopas, in a way you’re right, it could mean that, and there is a reward coming to you. But there is so much more to it than that . . .”
Jesus then gave them a history lesson:
Over a thousand years ago, God used the word “treasure” to refer to your ancestors: the nomads that became Pharaoh’s slaves (Deuteronomy 7, Exodus 19). He called them out of obscurity to be his holy nation. His people. His treasure. The apple of his eye. A nation set apart for God’s purpose, to bring his kingdom to earth, in a heaven-on-earth kind of way.
Do you remember the prayer Jesus taught you, that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven? (Matthew 6: 10). Well, that’s what the story of the Scriptures is all about—God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. God’s kingdom reigning on earth, where we live, as it does in heaven, where God lives. God’s presence permeating our atmosphere and dwelling here, in our midst, through his treasured people.
The Israelites were God’s chosen people, his children. His heart loved them like a father. Like a Creator. The heart of God yearned for them to live in a way that his presence could tabernacle with them harmoniously. A restoration and resurrection of the Garden of Eden.
He longed to just hang out with them, face to face. Just like he had intended, at the very beginning—to hang out, face to face, with his beloved creation.
You see, friends, it’s in God’s nature to do that. He is the embodiment of unconditional, other-centered love. He is love. Agape. Hesed. But creation ruined his original plan, and human beings walked away from his offer of relationship. We desired to serve and love ourselves instead. We rejected him.
We discovered the field of self-centeredness, filled with idols bearing our own image, and we bought it and buried ourselves in it. And yet, when the core of God is selfless, self-giving love, he couldn’t just let them walk away. He loved them too much. He treasured them too much.
So, as he outlined to Abraham about 1500 years before Jesus walked the earth, he promised to restore the hearts of humanity. He signed a covenant, in his own blood, to bring healing and forgiveness to his creation, even if it meant losing his own life in the process. His love meant he could do nothing else. And Jesus did.
God found his treasure buried in a field, and he sold everything he had to buy it back. The treasure he found was you. His beloved humanity. His beloved people. In his joy and love, he gave up his own life so that he could be with his creation again. In forgiveness and in harmony. The cross was God selling everything he had, giving of his very self, for his treasured possession.
The cross was God selling everything he had so that the Trinity could buy you back. For you are part of his creation. Part of his treasured possession. Part of the apple of his eye.
So will you accept that you are his treasure?
A treasure whose worth is not measured in gold or material value, but the unmeasurable weight of God’s heart. His heart loved you so much that he willingly gave it up so that the field you were buried in could be bought. You could be dug up, cleansed, forgiven, and restored.
To sparkle on God’s mantelpiece.
All you have to do is accept his love and he will restore you. The choice to shine is yours.