November 19, 2014

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46

Maurice Barboza’s idea to build a memorial to black Revolutionary War soldiers first came to him in 1984. That was the year his aunt achieved her goal of becoming the second black member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Over the next 30 years, Barboza did a lot to see his vision realized—historical research, development of a monument and congressional legislation. He even sold his house to raise money for the project.

Last month, all his work started to pay off. Congress unanimously approved a site for The National Liberty Memorial on the National Mall—under the National Park Service’s jurisdiction—and President Obama signed the authorization into law. “It’s been a long struggle,” Barboza told The Washington Post of his effort to honor the 5,000-10,000 black soldiers—some free, others falsely promised freedom in exchange for their joining in—who fought for independence from the British.

But his job is hardly over. He and his supporters still have to raise at least $6 million for the memorial’s design and construction. Then they have to get approval from the National Capital Planning Commission and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

What makes a person chase a vision over three decades and at the cost of selling his home? Only something valuable, something he believed in with all his heart.

Jesus wanted His followers to understand that kind of quest. Commentators debate two interpretations of the parables (stories told to illustrate a spiritual or moral truth) of the hidden treasure and the precious pearl. They could demonstrate God’s great love for us by sending His Son Jesus to pursue us for Himself—in other words, each of us are His “treasure” and “fine pearl,” and He gave up all He had (i.e. His life) to pay the price for our salvation so that we would be with Him forever.

Alternately, the treasure and pearl may stand for the incomparable value of knowing God, for which no sacrifice is too great. It is the comfort and joy of having Him as Savior in our life now (the earthly kingdom of heaven), and looking forward to that future, eternal kingdom after death or when Jesus comes again (Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Timothy 4:18, 2 Peter 1: 10-11).

Maurice Barboza is admirably determined to see his dream come to fruition, and he’s more than proved he’s willing to work for it. Either interpretation of these Biblical parables expresses a similar truth: precious things are found not by passive waiting, but by conscious seeking. God took the initiative for His beloved (John 3:16). His desire is for every person to know Him (1 Timothy 2:3, 4; 2 Peter 3:9). He never gives up searching (2 Chronicles 16:9) and standing by for our response (Isaiah 55:6; Matthew 6:33, 7:7).

Because He is the greatest reward of all (Psalm 19:7-11).



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