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Pearl Of Great Price

Discussion in 'Parables of Jesus' started by Chad, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. The Pearl Of Great Price (Mt 13:45-46)

    INTRODUCTION

    1. In "The Parable Of The Hidden Treasure", I suggested...
    a. That Jesus was depicting the "value" of the kingdom to one who accidentally finds it
    b. That Paul's conversion was an example of how one is willing to give up all in order to lay hold of the "treasure" of the kingdom
    c. That the value of the kingdom can be seen when we consider that it is:
    1) A refuge from the powers of darkness - Co 1:13
    2) A domain of righteousness, peace, and joy - Ro 14:17
    3) An unshakable kingdom - He 12:25-29
    4) Destined for eternal glory - Mt 13:41-43
    2. Jesus followed His parable with another short parable...
    a. Commonly called "The Parable Of The Pearl Of Great Price" - Mt 13:45-46
    b. Its similarity to the previous parable is obvious, and yet there is a difference
    [The difference and some related thoughts will serve as the basis for our study as we take a closer look at "The Parable Of The Pearl Of Great Price". We begin with...]

    I. THE PARABLE EXPLAINED

    A. THE DETAILS OF THE PARABLE...
    1. A merchant is seeking beautiful pearls
    2. He finds one pearl of great price
    3. Undeterred by its price, he sells all that he has and buys it!
    B. THE MEANING OF THE PARABLE...
    1. The use of the word "Again" ties this parable to the preceding one
    a. Where the value and preciousness of the kingdom was being described
    b. Where we saw the value to one who accidentally finds it
    2. But in this parable, the person is on a mission to find that which is of great value
    a. He believes there is something out there worth looking for, or he would not be seeking it
    b. When he finds it, he immediately recognizes its value and is willing to sell all to obtain it
    3. Neither this parable (nor the previous one) is suggesting we can "buy" or otherwise "earn" our salvation
    a. For salvation is a gift - cf. Ro 6:23
    b. We can "buy" salvation only in the sense of gaining rightful possession of it
    1) Which we do by grace through faith - cf. Ep 2:8-9
    2) When we submit to the working of God and the renewing the Holy Spirit which takes place as we are baptized into Christ - cf. Co 2:11-13; Ti 3:4-7
    4. This parable, then, describes how some people react to the kingdom of heaven, when they know there must be something out
    there worthy of great value and have been searching for it

    C. SOME BIBLICAL EXAMPLES...
    1. The Ethiopian eunuch - Ac 8:26-38
    a. His journey to Jerusalem to worship, his reading of Scripture while returning, indicate he was spiritually searching
    b. His immediate desire to be baptized shows his estimation of the value of the salvation offered through Christ
    2. Cornelius - Ac 10:1-8,30-33
    a. His prayers and alms were indicative of his search for "righteousness"
    b. As promised by Jesus (cf. Mt 5:6), God took note of his spiritual hunger and thirst, and sent Peter to tell him the gospel of Christ
    3. Lydia - Ac 16:11-15
    a. Her meeting with other women to pray illustrates her spiritual searching
    b. Upon hearing the things spoken by Paul, she and her household were baptized
    [Each of these examples should remind us that there are many people who know there is some "thing", some "purpose", some "meaning", that is worthy of diligent search, and who spend their lives trying to find it. When by the grace and providence of God they come to learn of Christ and His kingdom, they are willing to give up all to obtain it!

    These examples, and the parable itself, confirm the truthfulness of Jesus' teaching about those "who hunger and thirst for righteousness". That those who "hunger", those who "search", will indeed find what God has for them!

    It might be that we may "stumble" across the blessings God has in Christ and His kingdom (as in "The Parable Of The Hidden Treasure"). But do we want to risk our salvation on possibly "stumbling" across it?

    What can we do to ensure that we will find what God has for us? Well, we need to be like that merchant, "searching" for that "pearl of great price". How does one do that in regards to spiritual matters...?]

    II. SEARCHING FOR "THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE"

    A. FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH - Ac 8:27-28
    1. Be a student of the Scriptures
    2. Apply the Scriptures to the best of your understanding
    3. Be open to what others may have to share concerning the Scriptures
    B. FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF THE BEREANS - Ac 17:10-11
    1. Again, be open to what others may to share
    2. But apply diligence (i.e., "readiness of mind") to understand what others are saying
    3. And in the end, let the Scriptures be your final authority
    4. Demonstrate it by "searching the Scriptures daily"
    CONCLUSION

    1. Like the Ethiopian eunuch, the Bereans, Cornelius, Lydia, and many other religious people...
    a. We may be lost in our present state of understanding of God's will
    b. But if we will search like that "merchant" did, and have the desire to understand and please God like these people did...
    c. ...then we can trust in God's Providence to lead us to the truth, and to that "pearl of great price"!
    2. Is the "pearl of great price" worth it?
    a. Again, I wish I could invite those who have passed on to give us their perspective
    b. Who though they may have suffered greatly in this life, have come to experience the ultimate blessings of the "kingdom of heaven" -- I am confident they would say "It is surely worth it all!"
    3. And the blessings of the kingdom are not limited to the life hereafter; as Jesus reassured Peter, there are hundredfold blessings
    even "in this time" - cf. Mk 10:28-30
     
  2. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding a pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (verses 45-46).
    In the Orient jewels are among the most sought for luxuries. Very early in history 'precious stones' were highly appreciated. Revelation 21:19 and 20 show how well the various gemstones were known. People have always felt the appeal of their brilliance. It was not exceptional for rich ladies to wear six or even eight rings set with precious stones. That is probably why in 1Timothy 2:9 Paul says that in the meeting of the congregation the woman 'should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire". The list of luxury materials in Revelation 18:11 also contains pearls: 'gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet". In ancient times pearls had even more appeal than gemstones. It is a well known historical fact that Julius Caesar once paid the equivalent of over a hundred thousand dollars for one pearl. Naturally a price like this was an exception, yet it tells us much about the luxury of the age. Very famous were Cleopatra's pearls, one of which she dissolved in wine which she drank to the honor of Anthony. Charles the Fifth had a pearl which was valued at eighty thousand gold ducates.
    The quality of a precious pearl is in its size, its color and shape, but especially in its perfect translucency. That is why they are called pearls of 'the purest water'. The market value of a pearl is expressed in carats, just as with diamonds. A pearl weighing six carats (one carat is about 0. 2 grams) is six times the price of a one-carat pearl. This rule applies to good pearls only. Pearls of extraordinary size, shape and translucency are worth enormous amounts of money.
    In biblical times pearls were mainly imported from the regions around the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. The shell of the pearl oyster is smooth and brilliantly white inside. Sometimes the color approaches yellow or blue and has all the colors of the rainbow. The inside is the material from which mother of pearl is obtained by means of grinding down the shell. The pearls themselves are the products of a special shape assumed by the moisture which produces the mother of pearl inside the shell. A pearl therefore is a product of living nature.
    On any good day a pearl diver may find a fine pearl, but very seldom will he find a pearl of great value, that is, a pearl of exceptional size, e. g. the size of a walnut, which also has perfect shape and clarity. Such a pearl would be a much coveted prize for a dealer.
    The parable introduces a pearl merchant. The merchant used to specialize in 'fine pearls'. Perhaps he traveled from one pearl diving centre to another to make sure he was the first to discover a valuable pearl. In this way he had collected a treasure trove of fine pearls. One day he saw a pearl of extraordinary and excellent value, a pearl the like of which he had not seen in his entire career. A subtle feature of the parable is that the merchant was not looking for this excellent pearl. While seeking fine pearls he accidentally found it: pearls like this are too rare to start looking for.
    Another remarkable thing in the parable is that the merchant did not show any joy when he discovered this pearl. This is in sharp contrast with the man of the previous parable who was exceedingly glad when he discovered the treasure in the field. Yet from the moment the precious pearl had been shown to him, the joyless collector wanted to own it. But the price he had to pay for it was very, very high. He had to detach his feelings from the pearls he had collected so far. He sold them for good money to be able to pay the high price for the one precious pearl and become its owner.

    Explanations:
    A well known interpretation of the parable of the pearl runs virtually parallel to the one of the treasure in the field. It is as follows: all people are diligently seeking for fine pearls. One wants to be rich, the other seeks power, honor or knowledge, but in the end all are disappointed. All they find are artificial pearls. Jesus Christ is the pearl of great value. Those who find Him are satisfied and happy forever. The merchant therefore is that true Christian who refuses to be satisfied by anything but being a partaker of Christ. For Jesus' sake we should be prepared to lose all our possessions and leave everything to follow Him.
    Although it is true that we should seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, it is not a biblical idea that the Kingdom is for sale, and that even Christ might be exchanged for natural possessions. For the parable states clearly that the merchant sold all he had to buy the pearl of great value. We cannot pay with strenuous effort, with abstinence or with the sacrifice of earthly possessions. When Simon the magician offered him money to receive the gift of God, Peter said to him: "Your silver perish with you because you thought you would obtain the gift of God with money". Obtaining the Kingdom of God can never be related to giving money or goods or to the offer of human effort and sacrifice. We receive it through grace, by faith, at no price.
    It is understandable therefore that many reject this interpretation and adhere to another which seems to have more ground in Scripture. They interpret it in the following way: Nobody sacrificed everything as completely as Christ when He came to the earth in the form of a weak, needy child who, once grown up, even laid down his life. As it says: "But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:7-8). In this interpretation the pearl is the human soul. The pearl of great value is the image of the church which is saved from the mire of the earth.
    This interpretation has the advantage of being based on the idea that man is not thoroughly and fully depraved, but comparable to a pearl, even though, according to the explanation, he has to be saved from the mire, that is from the realm of darkness. Also true is that Jesus sold all He had, as had already been explained in the previous parable. Apart from this, the interpretation does not hold water. If the pearls are human souls which Jesus seeks, and this is true, then the church consists of these pearls. He bought these pearls by giving all He had. But then this interpretation compels us to assume that Jesus relinquishes all the souls He had acquired to buy one special pearl: the church. But the church does not take the place of other people, for Jesus is not a merchant in 'human souls' (Rev 18:13). Apart from that, the congregation is a collective entity, a gathering of people. A large pearl, though, does not consist of a lot of small pearls but came into being and developed in the same way as the other pearls.
    Not only did our Lord buy his church, He was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the whole world or universe (John 1:29). In 1John 2:2 it says: "And He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world". He died for the sins of the entire human race.

    Who is the Merchant?
    The parable of the pearl is not a duplication of the one of the treasure in the field. It shows us God's plan for man's salvation from another viewpoint in the heavenly places. The parable of the treasure in the field highlights the work of Jesus Christ who discovered the secret of the Kingdom of heaven, that is, the deliverance and restoration of the new creation in the redemption of our sins on the basis of the purchase by his blood (Rev 1:5). In the parable of the pearl the emphasis is on God's adversary, Satan, from whose control the souls of men are delivered. To explain this we first want to concentrate on those who are seekers of men (pearls).

    God Seeks
    James 4:5 says in effect that God seeks "jealously the spirit He made to dwell in us". God's desire is to unite with human spirits. In man He seeks a fellowship of love and co-operation. It is his purpose that the human spirit should be his partner forever. God never relinquished this plan, not even after man's fall. Man will sit on the throne of God. Jesus Christ, already glorified, is the guarantee of this. We will sit with Him on his throne, as He is seated with His Father on his throne (Rev 3:21). The Father seeks fellowship with man, as the Lord said: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him" (John 4:23). God is spirit and He seeks all who function with their spirits in the heavenly places where He is. Prayer and worship assume a functioning in the spiritual or unseen world.

    Jesus Seeks
    Luke 19:10 tells us that our Lord is seeking: "For the Son of men came to seek and to save the lost". The lost are those who are overpowered by the prince of darkness and held firmly under his control. Jesus went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). He is the good shepherd who seeks the lost until He finds them (Luke 15:4).

    The Devil Seeks
    1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. He wants to have men for himself. He desires the 'wife' of God. Lustfully he seeks men, as the merchant sought fine pearls, to add them to his possessions. The parable does not say in what way the merchant obtained the pearls, but the bible tells us that the evil one is not averse from robbery, for he comes 'to steal and to kill and to destroy'. Note that the pearls were not the merchant Is property from their very beginning, and no more are human beings the devil's property from the moment of their birth. Man is not subject to damnation from the moment of his birth, although it does not take long before he develops ties with the realm of darkness. Speaking generally, the imagination of his heart is evil from his youth (Gen 8:21. He turns aside, he does wrong and becomes useless (Romans 3:12). This is the way in which man is 'sold under sin' (Romans 7:14). Gradually the enemy overpowers him and turns him into occupied territory. The evil one acquires men in the way in which the merchant acquired his pearls: one by One.

    The Transaction
    Prowling about, stealing, robbing, destroying, the devil met the Son of man. A pearl of this quality he had never struck before. It was perfect and without blemish. First the devil tried to buy Jesus in his usual way, as he had overpowered all other human beings. Jesus was exposed to his temptations and pressures, but He did not stray from the right way or yield to the evil one. He resisted the devil, and because of the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him the devil had to flee from Him. Jesus wore the armor of God, the armor of the Holy Spirit, and stood fast in the evil day. He carried out his duty, He persevered and remained the property of his Father.
    But the devil is an obsessed spirit. He wanted Jesus at any cost, just as the merchant wanted the pearl. Then God said to him: "Give me all the pearls you have and I will surrender to you the Son of my love, a pearl of exceeding beauty". To put it in another image: a beautiful gold ten dollar piece can be exchanged for a thousand or more dirty copper cents. So Jesus, the pearl of great value, was exchanged for all the guilt-laden, damaged and injured human beings of all times and all places. He was "put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Rom 4:25). The Holy Spirit left Him, and He received the wages of sin: death. Death "had dominion over Him" (Rom 6:9).
    Whatever his acquisitions, the devil will never know joy, for joy belongs to the Kingdom of God. Unlike the parable of the treasure in the field, this parable does not say that 'in his joy he goes'. He, the pearl merchant, gave all he had for that one precious pearl. His own kingdom and the demons under his control he did not have to relinquish, for "it is not with angels that God is concerned" (Heb 2:16).
    Jesus' blood, his life, was the price for which the Father regained possession of the entire human race. In a parable Jesus thus explained the heavenly transaction between God and the devil. By doing so He gave us insight into the things of the unseen world. The disciples did not understand the parable but later they would understand. Thus on the isle of Patmos John saw another image. He beheld the city of God, new Jerusalem, which is built up of living and precious stones. He saw the jewels and the gates of pearl: as many pictures of a saved and delivered humanity.
     
  3. #3 james1523, Aug 19, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2013
    An alternative interpretation.

    The merchant is Jesus. The pearl of great price is the church (all believers).
    Jesus purchased the church by going to the cross, giving up all He had: 1 Cor 7:23, 6:19-20.

    As we all know how pearls are made - by a wound in the oyster shell, a pearl signifies something beautiful (the church, the Bride of Christ without spot or wrinkle) which is produced out of something wounded (Christ).
    The church which was produced by Christ's blood ( Acts 20:28) and this church is revealed in Matt 16:18.

    Pearls feature in the New Jerusalem as the gates in Rev 21:21, which has special meaning about how we must enter the city.
     
  4. I'd always been taught Jesus was the pearl of great price and when we found Him would we not sell all we have to obtain the Kingdom of Heaven,,,,, ? But I like you're version also..... .Rev
     

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