We used to do a lot of metal detecting. It was fun and we have the memories of some pretty remarkable finds. We found an 1880 Indian Head penny, a 1922 Mercury dime, a 1921 flying eagle quarter and a 1953 Benjamin Franklin half dollar. We also found many buffalo nickels and too many wheat back pennies to count. We were also always excited when we found any silver coins minted before 1963 when they changed to a cheap alloy. But the best find we’ve ever made was just a couple years ago when Kathy took our grandson, TJ, metal detecting in the sand under the swing sets in a neighborhood park. They found an 1891 silver dollar in fairly good condition. The excitement of that find made the experience for TJ. Of course, he got to keep the treasure, and it’s been something special for him ever since.

Among metal detectors there are numerous stories of old people in past generations who did not trust banks and felt the safest place to put their money was in the ground. It’s the dream of every metal detector to find that tin coffee can filled with cash and coins of the days of yore. They say that during the Civil War, because of national confusion, many people would bury their money to keep from having it stolen. Those who grew up the era of the great stock-market crash and the depression had distrust for banks and would bury their money also. The tendency goes all the way back to the Bible. Jesus told the parable of the talents where the man who was given one talent was so afraid of losing it that he buried it in the ground. Further, one of the Dead Sea scrolls found in Cave 3 near Qumran was a copper scroll and it contains a list of buried treasures that were hidden in and around the temple before it was destroyed by Antiochus in 167 BC. Burying valuables was a common practice. Experts say there are many buried treasures yet to be discovered. But there’s one that’s more important than them all.

Jesus taught us that “the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field” (See Matthew 13:44). One commentator (Luther Besser) boldly asserts that the field represents the law. The Jews had it. They studied it. They quoted it, and more importantly they attempted to find righteousness before God by keeping it. Frequently in his ministry Jesus was confronted by legalists expecting to gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven by keeping the law. Jesus consistently said “good luck with that.” The treasure that is hidden in the field, is Christ Himself. That which the Jews searched hardest for, they could not find because Jesus was a stumbling stone. It was the stone that was rejected. On the other hand, the Gentiles found the great prize in the field of the law and they found a righteousness not based on their own merit. This is exactly what Paul said in Romans 9:30-33. He says that the “Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’”