By Matt Gordon
In moments, I’ll take my sons to their first non-backyard Easter egg hunt. They, along with hundreds of other moppets from a local preschool, will squint-dash-and-squeal in an open field, collecting colorful eggs as they go. Each egg is a treasure, or, more accurately, each egg promises a treasure. If the little plastic eggs were empty, I doubt there’d be much of a hunt at all. In the same way that none of us really do all that much with egg shells; no, it is what an egg contains—nourishment, and hence life—that gives value.
My oldest son now wears glasses. He is convinced he has eagle eyes, even though I pointed out to him that eagles do not wear glasses. His improved vision is his point, and with that vision he foresees an advantage in the field. He told me all about his foreshadowed dominance—I hadn’t the heart to tell him that, advantage or not, there is a twelve egg maximum. Maybe I’ll turn my head and allow a baker’s dozen, but no more than that.
His brother will take a different approach. Recently he has developed a fear of the wind. Yes, you read that right. From a gentle breeze to a gust with gusto, he’ll wilt all the same. Even the absence of wind scares him, for it portends that there will be wind. One boy will chase eggs passionately, the other will run from the wind. I’ll encourage both, quite differently. And together we’ll be afield in search of treasure, though we’ll call it by a different name. Eggs, stillness, and a modicum of obedience will be our varied monikers. But even so, the fact remains: together we’ll be afield in search of treasure.
It brings to mind one of my favorite simple parables. Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure 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.”
I wonder what my son would say to that—if I offered him all the eggs of the field by taking possession of the entire field? He’d be confused, I’m sure. But even at four he would probably realize that just as the value of the egg is within the egg, the value of field is within the field. By gaining the latter one takes possession of every ounce of potential—every slap bracelet and Reese’s treat, every top and sticker—of the former. I think he’d take the deal, taking the treasure with it.
Together we’ll hunt and search and run and grab and cheer and gobble. We’ll run from the wind and topple laughing and then hoist up-on-shoulders, running anew. Free but bound. Bound to the treasure.
This probably does look a bit like the kingdom of heaven. Free but bound. Bound to a God, but free to love because that God is love. Life becomes a recurring taking hold of—a renewal of treasure. A hunt, search, a run, a grab, a cheer, and a gobble of sweet provision. Then a laughing topple and a return-to-feet running renewal.
For the treasure is good. Life abundant: purchased for us and freely given to us. Life abundant: no shame, no condemnation, no constant approval because we have been forever approved.
The man walks in the field and finds treasure, and we are invited to be that person—to put on glasses to eagle-eye the treasure, and then to sell all the faux-glories to attain the forever-glory. To trade up from happiness to joy; from calm to peace; from nice to kind; and from just-a-bit-hollow to dense hope. We are the person with a treasure and field. Now what to do with it?
But Jesus is also a man, and, I think, also the person in the field. The treasure catches his eye. After a hunt and a search, he sees it, and runs, and grabs, and cheers. He holds it close, laughing in delight, for he has taken possession of his treasure.
But he knows the cost.
So he goes and sells everything he has. His power. His standing. His reputation. These are put to market. As is his very life. Everything means everything, after all. He is scorned and beaten, marched and mocked; he is killed. Everything means everything, after all.
The treasure is worth it.
The treasure is you.
Jesus Christ looks on at his beloved, but not at the surface. He looks at the treasure inside—the weighty, worthy potential of a thing remade, renewed, reclaimed, redeemed. He looks at what that reshaping process reveals—a radical recreation of love. He dies so that the treasure of love might live.
He is the great treasure that hides inside the fields of this world. And he is the great treasure-seeker.
In moments, I’ll take my sons to their first non-backyard Easter egg hunt. We will, afterward, find a windless alcove and crack their eggs open, marveling at the treasure revealed, the life contained within.
We’ll look at each other, at the field, at the chilly winds that seek us out. But our minds will be on the treasure. The treasure within that gives life forever.
Happy Easter and happy hunting.