Summary: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” Matthew 13:45-46.
Theme: Look for the greatest treasure
Text: 1 Kings 3:5-12; Rom. 8:28-30; Matt. 13:44-52
Jesus often taught using parables. A parable is simply a story about familiar and material things that is used to reveal eternal and spiritual truths. Jesus Christ, the best teacher the world has ever known, takes what is known and can be seen to teach and reveal what is unknown and cannot be seen. We however need wisdom to be able to understand Jesus’ parables and the Scriptures declare in James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” We should in fact be like Solomon who when given the opportunity to have anything in the world asked for wisdom. He asked for a discerning and understanding heart to enable him govern the people by making the right decisions. Without wisdom we will not be able to discern what the real treasures in the world are. The Scriptures affirm that for many people their main concern in life is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Wisdom will make us look beyond these deceitful things and discern what is of real value in the world and in eternity. Wisdom will make us look for the greatest treasure.
This parable about the treasure in the field stresses the great value of the Kingdom of God. A common interpretation of this parable is that a person should be willing to part with everything in order to possess the Kingdom of God. Although this is true this parable could also be referring to Christ who gave all He had for the Kingdom of God. The pearl of great value also stresses the same thing – the value of the Kingdom of God. It cost the man everything that he had to possess it.
In the parables of Jesus in Matthew 13, the field is always used to refer to the world. With this understanding, the treasure in the field is therefore God’s people in the world and the man who bought the field is Christ. Who else could purchase the world? When the man found the treasure in the field, he hid it and decided to buy the whole field. The man did not want the field but he was realistic enough to realise that in order to get the treasure he had to pay the price for the field – a very high price indeed. It cost him all he had but he did it joyfully because he knew the value of what he was getting in the treasure. This is confirmed in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The ‘whoever’ is the treasure in the field that Jesus died to purchase. Jesus has bought the field but He leaves it to His disciples to recover the treasure. It is up to the Church to find where the treasure is buried, dig it from the earth and clean it up so that the treasure can be admired. The second description of this treasure is the pearl of great value. A pearl in Scripture suggests suffering and it is interesting that all the gateways to the New Jerusalem are made of pearls. This indicates that there is no way into the New Jerusalem except the way of suffering. It is also interesting to note that a pearl is caused by some kind of irritation in the oyster and is really the product of something going wrong. In the process of making a pearl marketable it has to be raised from the depths of the sea, removed from the oyster and undergo various processes. It takes a lot of work to make a pearl marketable. Just as in the case of the treasure in the field, Jesus leaves it to the Church to prepare the pearl and bring out its beauty. Jesus Christ gave all He had for each one of us. If there had been nobody else to be redeemed Jesus would have died just for you. This should give us a sense of self-worth and we should no longer struggle with a sense of unworthiness, inadequacy or rejection. We are worth all that God had and He gave Jesus Christ for each one of us.
These two parables give us a standard by which to measure what it cost Jesus Christ to redeem us. In each case, the purchaser had to sell all he had to make the purchase. It cost him everything. It cost Jesus His life to redeem us. It was only by the blood of Christ that we could be redeemed from our sins, our foolishness and our darkness. This is because, according to the Scriptures, the life or soul of all flesh is in the blood. Jesus poured out His soul unto death. The most important day in the Jewish religious calendar was the Day of Atonement. On that day, the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies with the blood of sacrificed animals that would cover the sins of Israel for one more year. In Leviticus 16:14 is the following procedure “Moreover, he (the High Priest) shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times”. It was the blood alone that could atone for the sins of God’s people and the blood was to be brought right into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled seven times. Seven is the number of completeness or perfection and this was exactly fulfilled in the way Jesus shed His blood. The first sprinkling or shedding of His blood took place in the garden of Gethsemane as He wrestled in agony to make Himself available to God for this last great sacrifice. The Scriptures record that His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. It continued when He was being questioned and mistreated in the High Priest’s house. Jesus bled from the wounds on His back when He was flogged with a Roman scourge and bled from his cheeks when His beard was pulled out. Isaiah prophesied that this would happen in Isaiah 50:6 in the words “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard”. Jesus bled from the scalp when the crown of thorns was forced onto His head and from the nails piercing His hands and feet. Finally when His side was pierced with a spear blood and water flowed from the wound. Jesus paid the price for our sin. It cost Him all that He had. He did not only give up His glory, His throne and His majesty as God, He gave up Himself. He gave His life for us showing us how valuable we are to Him.