Derek looks at the Parable of the Treasure in the Field to confront you listeners with your importance in God's sight. You are not insignificant or worthless but a treasure to Him; and very valuable. You are the son or daughter that God wanted, and very special to Him. Derek then relates a story from his own life about digging the treasure out of someone he knew.
If we believe in His atoning death and His triumphant resurrection we become part of the second man. A new kind of being that had never existed before in which God and man are united in one person. That’s the destiny of us as Christians. It says in 1 Timothy 2:5,
“For there is one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.”
That was many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. So there is a Man on the throne of God. The Man Christ Jesus. That’s a breathtaking thought if we can absorb it for just a little while. There is a representative of our race at the highest place in the universe—a Man Christ Jesus on the throne of God. You see God takes the lowest and raises it to the highest. He started with dust, but His destiny is to end on the throne of God. From the lowest to the highest.
Now I want to take two parables. Matthew chapter 13. Have you ever pondered on this chapter? It’s the chapter of the seven parables. It’s a rich and exciting chapter. But I want to take two of the shortest. One is one verse and the other is two verses. In verse 44 my Bible heads this The Parable of the Hidden Treasure. Jesus is speaking.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
If you think yourself into the history of the Middle East, how did that treasure get hidden in the field? Well, probably there was an invading army that came at some time. And a man was afraid of losing his possessions. So he quickly went to a field and buried his treasure in the field. But who knows what happened. War swept that way. He never got back. And so the treasure lay buried in the field.
And then another man comes along and he discovers the treasure and he’s very, I would say, crafty. He doesn’t tell everybody about it. He hides it. He covers it up. And he goes and buys the field as though it was just an ordinary field. Maybe he pays a little excessive price. People marvel. “Why would he buy that field? There’s nothing in that field. It’s not worth what he paid for it.” But once he owned the field he digs up the treasure you see. And then people understand why he bought the field. And I want to say that man is Jesus. I know there are different ways of interpreting parables, but I want to interpret it this way. That man is Jesus. The field the parables tell us is the world. Jesus died for the whole world. He paid the price for the whole world, but it isn’t the world He wants. It’s the treasure in the field. What is the treasure? God’s people. So he was willing to pay the price for an apparently worthless field in order to get the treasure which is you and me. That’s how much He cares for you and me. That’s how much He thinks of us. That’s how much we mean to Him. We are not unimportant, we are not insignificant, we’re not worthless. We’re extremely valuable. So valuable that Jesus gave His life to purchase us. Never again from tonight onwards talk about yourself as if you were insignificant or unimportant or worthless. Just discard all that thinking. It’s not Scriptural. I’m not telling you to be proud, but I’m telling you to realize your true value. Because you gain nothing by this attitude of poor me. I don’t amount to much. I’m just a little something or other. That’s not pleasing to God. You’re a son or a daughter of God. God has no second class children. You are important. You are very, very valuable. You’re special. Begin to understand that here tonight. Drop that cringing attitude. Drop that sense of worthlessness. You don’t have to apologize for being you. It’s you that God wanted. He wanted you the way you are. But He won’t leave you that way. You’re not glorifying God by being so humble, because it’s not humility. Its act is unbelief. You are a child of God tonight if you’ve received Jesus by faith. You’re part of the treasure.
I think the ministry of the gospel is digging the treasure out. If Jesus bought the field He leaves it to us to dig the treasure out. And when treasure has been under the earth for a long while it’s often corrupted and tarnished and then that’s part of the ministry too, is to polish it up and clean it up. I think that’s the ministry that God has given me to polish up the treasure that has been so long under the ground. God has given me a sense of the value of God’s people.
When I was a very new Christian—about two years old in the Lord—the British Army—I was in the medical corps—posted me to the Sudan. The Sudan, believe me, is a tough country. As a matter of fact, it’s even tougher now. It’s the most persecuting of all countries of Christians at this time. But I originally went to Khartoum which is the capital. Then the army posted me to a little sort of railway station town called Atbara I was put in charge of what’s called in the medical language of the army, a reception station.
And then somewhere in the middle of the night I got this tremendous supernatural burden of prayer for the people of the Sudan. And I tell you they’re not easy to love. They’re pretty fierce. But I got up. I was to burdened with prayer that I was pacing two and fro in that little room in my white flannel nightdress. As I was praying, I was praying for the souls of the people of the Sudan. And I looked down at my nightdress and I have to tell you it was luminous. There was such a sense of the glory of God that my nightdress was actually shining. And God gave me a little glimpse of how He values intercession.
And then I was moved to another station on the Red Sea called Djibate [phonetic]. There I was put in charge—I was only a corporal. I couldn’t be anything more because I’d been a conscientious objector. And I was put in charge of the native labor, the Sudani labor in a hospital. I had to deal with the Rieas [phonetic] the head man of the labor whose name was Ali. So we had to meet every morning in my office and plan the activities for the day. And I couldn’t see any way to relate to Ali. He was distant from me and I was distant to him.
Then one day I discovered that he believed in Satan. So I said, “I believe in Satan too.” And strange as it may seem it was the first connection between us. We both believed in Satan. Well one day he was late in reporting to my office and he came in limping and he said, “I’ve been to the reception station because I have something on my foot which is hurting me.” Now I had read in the Bible... I don’t think I’d ever seen anybody lay hands on people and pray for them. If I had I didn’t remember it. But I knew it was in the Bible so I said, “Would you like me to pray for you?” He said, “Yes.”
Well, I treated him like a bomb that was about to explode. I stood at a careful distance, put my hands on him and prayed a very simple prayer. That was all I could do. About a week later he came in and showed me his foot. It was completely healed. So after that we had a connection. We became friends.
Then he wanted to teach me how to ride a camel. And so I learned to ride a camel and believe me riding a camel is no joke. I don’t know what it is about a camel, but when one part is going up another is going down. You never have a stable ride.
So then I said, “Would you like me to read to you from the Bible?” He said, “Yes,” he was getting very interested. So I thought we’ll start at John’s gospel. I read from the King James Version which is the only version that most people used in those days. But all his English he had learned from soldiers. He had a very quick memory. He couldn’t read or write, but he had a very accurate memory. So I read the King James Version translating it into soldier’s English all the way, which was quite a challenge. And then he said, “Why don’t we take a ride out on our camels and go out somewhere?” So I said “Fine.”
I was in charge of the rations so we armed ourselves with things we needed to eat and we rode out on our two camels and sat down at the bottom of a hill and there was a little stream of brackish water running down the hill. Now I’m not sure that I would do today what I did then. And I’m not necessarily recommending it. But he said, “Now we, Sudanis, we drink this water. But you white people you don’t drink this water.” “Well,” I said, “since there’s nothing else to drink, I’ll drink it.” He said, “Why would you do that?” “Well if Jesus said if you drink any deadly thing it will not hurt you.” So I drank the water and he drank the water and we both did well.