When our Master and his disciples walked on the earth, crowds followed them to hear His teachings and stories. Many times, these stories illustrated a lesson or described what the Kingdom was like. Once He told two stories, or parables, that described the worth of finding something precious.
A man was digging in a field and hit something hard. He dug some more until he found a hidden treasure of great value. Quickly he covered it again with dirt. He went to find out how much it would cost to buy the field. The price was high, but knowing that what he had found was worth much more than his possessions, he gave up everything to obtain the hidden treasure.
The second parable followed the same theme.
Once there was a pearl merchant. Many beautiful pearls passed through his hands. One day he came upon the most beautiful pearl he had ever seen. It was as white as snow, yet turning it in the light revealed all the colors of the rainbow. There was a special glow to this pearl. The merchant knew at once that he must have this pearl no matter what it cost him. He had to sell every other pearl he owned and everything else in his possession to buy that one pearl. But to him it did not matter. That pearl was worth everything.
The disciples listened carefully to every word and considered the meaning of the parables. Did they mean you had to give up all material possessions for the Kingdom?
There were many things the disciples had to learn before our Master left them. After His death and resurrection He appeared to them again for a short while, giving them the Holy Spirit and the authority to go make disciples and teach them to obey everything He had taught them. They did this and the result was love. People began living together, sharing what they had, and gladness filled their hearts. Disciples who owned houses or fields sold them and gave the money to the apostles, who used it wisely to build up the Kingdom. There was not a needy person among them.
Did you hear what they did? They sold everything! They gave up everything for the love they saw, the hidden treasure they had found, the precious pearl. This treasure was worth far more to them than their possessions. The disciples must have repeated His parables, and the people must have had ears to hear.
During those days there was a man named Yoceph who sold a field that he owned. He gave the proceeds to the apostles. Because of his zeal and the hope he had, they gave him a new name — Barnabas — meaning “son of encouragement.” He was honest and clear, having a single-minded devotion.
There was another man, named Ananias, and his wife was Sapphira. They too sold some property. Upon receiving the money they looked at it and began to think about all they could do with it. Then other thoughts and doubts filled their hearts. What if this new lifestyle did not work out? What if it fell through? They would have lost all their money. Or what if they really didn’t like this lifestyle after all? They considered and planned to hold back part of the money. Nevertheless, they would say they had given all and that the property was sold for such and such a price.
Because everyone was encouraged when Barnabas sold his field, Ananias and Sapphira expected the same response. Ananias took the money they had decided to give, and gave it to the apostles. Peter was there. He was one who had listened to the teachings and parables of our Master. He was full of wisdom and insight. He looked at Ananias. “Ananias,” he asked, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie and keep back some of the money? Was not the land yours and could you not do with the money what you wanted? Why have you planned this lie in your heart? You did not lie to us, but to God!”
When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. A hush came upon the room. Some young men came in, wrapped up the body, and carried it out and buried it. About three hours later Sapphira came to the apostles. She had no knowledge of what had happened to her husband. Peter looked at her and asked, “Did you and your husband sell the land for such and such a price?” Looking right into Peter's eyes she lied, “That was the price it was sold for. We gave it all.” Peter said to her, “How is it that you and your husband have agreed together to test our God? Look at the feet of those who buried your husband. They are at the door and they will carry you out also.” Immediately she fell down and died. The young men carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
Ananias and Sapphira planned and carried out a lie. They were used to lying and could look someone right in the eyes and lie. They tried to make themselves look better than they really were. They loved lying and did not want help to change. Because of their treachery, God took their lives so that they would not tear down the work of love in the community. Ananias and Sapphira did not see the true worth and value of the Kingdom, or the worth and value of our Master's great love for them They were not like the man who found the hidden treasure, or the pearl merchant, or Ben Nabiy.
Many say, “I see,” but are really blind; “I hear,” but are really deaf; “I have life,” but are really dead.
Believing in your heart causes you to love. Our Master is worth as much to us as we give to Him. Consider carefully what you hear.