Summary: Understanding what it means for us when Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to fine pearls
What lady doesn’t like pearls? I know mine does. A number of years ago, when Hallie was just a little tike, a Chinese man we knew gave Danielle a string of pearls as a gift. Okay — not what you’re thinking. We were considering bringing this man into our (former) business —and I think he was trying to show off or something. We later found out the Chinese government had a warrant for his arrest. Anyway, the pearls he gave to Danielle were different from the ones we might find in a jewelry store; they were natural, not cultivated.
Now, the most common kind of pearl found in jewelry stores are those cultivated by oyster farmers. According to one online source, cultured pearls are often “pre-formed, and tend to follow the shape of the implanted bead. Once the oyster farmer inserts the pre-formed beads into the oyster, the oyster does its thing to make the pearl around bead. After about six months, the farmers harvest the pearls, and sell them to jewelers to shape and polish.
But, the pearls given to Danielle were different. These pearls we natural and harvested from the bottom of the sea floor. They weren’t perfectly round, nor were they the same size or color. Instead, they were different shapes and shades. They weren’t fancy, and they may not have been highly prized because they we’re large or perfectly round, as some natural pearls can be. Still, here’s what’s neat; someone — probably living near the South China sea — dove into the water and gathered hundreds and hundreds of oysters in order to string together just a few pearls, who later sold them to the Chinese man, who then gifted them to Danielle.
This morning, we’re going to dig into God’s word, and see how God compares the kingdom of heaven to fine pearls, and what that means for us. So with that, please open your bibles to the Matthew 13:45–46. Let’s read it again for our good pleasure and for our listening audience. READ MATTHEW 13:45–46
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Now, before we go any further, I thought it would be fitting us to understand that there’s a few different ways we can look at this passage. The most obvious is that which accepted by the general community. We’re going to look at this, but much like pearls, there’s multiple layers to this passage and other interesting ways to look at it. So, let’s do that by first considering what the kingdom of heaven is, and once we’ve done that, we can see why it is to be sought like a fine pearl.
Now, to be truthful, we could try to understand the kingdom of heaven in the most complex of ways. But to be honest, we can put aside any scholarly understanding and look at through the lens of simply the text. The first place we see any mention of the kingdom of heaven is in Matthew 3:2. Mathew wrote, “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” In v.8, John said to the Pharisees, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
But what did the Baptist mean? The clue lies in VV 11-12 of that same passage. Let’s read it together. John said, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
So what John the Baptist was saying here, is that the kingdom of Heaven is coupled to the one who gathers unto himself the righteous —who live fruitful lives —because they have been liberated from the unquenchable fire that burns. In short, John was speaking of Jesus, and linking Jesus with the kingdom of heaven. So what he’s really saying here, is repent for Jesus is at hand.
Now, of the Kingdom of heaven, Jesus never said directly what it was, only that like John before him, all people should repent, because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. But what did Jesus mean? It can seem like we’re spinning in circles?
After all the years I’ve studied and read the bible, this is what I believe it to mean. The kingdom of heaven is all that Jesus encompasses in his incarnation, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and future return. The kingdom of heaven is all that’s enveloped within Christ.
Jesus is the promised resurrection. He is the way we really know and live peace and love. He is the means by which we are forgiven, saved, redeemed, and brought into the eternal inheritance in God’s everlasting kingdom. He is the hope of the present, and the hope of the future. He is the means by which evil is abolished; and he is the way to living rightly with God and others.