“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matt 13:45-46).
This parable depicts a merchant or dealer of fine pearls in search of a pearl of supreme quality and worth. After seeking, he finds it and proceeds to sell his entire assets to acquire this possession. Now let us consider a few characteristics of pearls. A pearl is produced when a small piece of shell or a parasite finds its way through the shell of a mollusk or oyster. To protect itself from the injury, the mollusk then secretes a substance called nacre that coats the invading particle. As layer upon layer of nacre forms around the offending particle, a hard object is formed, which we call a pearl. Today a lot of the pearls used in making jewelry are a product of man’s intervention. Only one in about ten thousand wild mollusks will yield a pearl, and of those only a small percentage are of the size and quality that can be used in the jewelry industry.
What is the spiritual significance of the merchant and the pearls? Our desire is for this article to draw our minds toward the plan of salvation and the price that God was willing to pay for our redemption.
Man in his sinful state is doomed for destruction.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom 3:10-12).
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (rom 5:8). “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
The work of grace in the heart of man makes it possible for him to desire to seek salvation. Were it not for Jesus first seeking our hearts, we would be hopelessly lost.
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Cor 6:20).
Aside from confessing our sins and believing in the finished work of Jesus, no amount of good works will bring salvation to man.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
While we refer to the coming of Jesus on earth as costing God heaven’s best, we understand something more about the heart of God in that He gave His Son for our redemption. As finite man, we struggle to wrap our minds around the price that God was willing to pay for our redemption. When one issues a payment for something, it is normally to cancel an equivalent debt or to purchase something of equivalent value. The payment for sin, Jesus dying on the cross, was not God’s debt to pay but ours.
The kingdom of heaven could be described as God’s will being done on the earth through the body of believers, the Church. The Church is the prized possession of God, purchased by the shedding of the innocent blood of Jesus.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27).
The plan of God is for the sanctified souls of His kingdom to be united in one body, the Church. Only eternity will reveal the true extent of what Jesus came to earth to purchase—the Church, His Bride.
What does it mean to you that God was willing to expend that interest in you? Have you been searching to find fulfillment in your life? Are you willing to give everything to have the peace in your heart that true repentance brings?
Many today are looking for an easy road to being a Christian. Man finds himself selling out, but for the wrong things. The price is paid, not for a pearl of spiritual value, but instead for a peril of misery and hurt.
Submitting ourselves and all that we are to the will of God is paramount in receiving the free gift of salvation. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Php 3:7-11). How is it with your life? What value do you place upon the privilege of being a member of the priceless possession of God? it is an elementary truth, but if you are going to purchase something for hundreds of dollars, you need to part with the hundreds before you can take ownership of the item. It is impossible to have both.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).
We lose our lives for God by keeping them holy and free from sin, and by giving God first place in our hearts. The shorelines of time are strewn with the bleached bones of those who have allowed other pursuits to drown out their desire to live a faithful life.
The pearl is a product of suffering. As the pressures of the world press upon us, let us be faithful in maintaining our connection to the Father.
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom 8:13-17).
The true identity of my heart’s assets will be revealed by the things that command its allegiance. May we be true, living examples of lives that have been purchased by the precious blood of Christ.
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9-10).
~ Denver, PA