Summary: Simple parable. Or is it? I find myself wanting to ask Jesus some questions like “Who or What is the PEARL OF GREAT VALUE?” Are WE the pearl of great price and is it Christ who gives up everything to purchase us?
Matthew 13:45-46 – YOU ARE SO WORTH IT! – Part 17
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
Simple parable. Or is it? I find myself wanting to ask Jesus some questions like “Who or What is the PEARL OF GREAT VALUE?” Are WE the pearl of great price and is it Christ who gives up everything to purchase us?
In his world renowned book Juan Carlos Ortiz takes a different approach. He says “CHRIST is the Pearl of Great Value and WE are the merchant seeking for happiness , for security, for fame, for eternity. And when we find Jesus it costs us everything. He has happiness, joy, peace, healing, security, eternity, everything.
So we say, “I want this pearl. How much is it?”
He goes on to say that the seller says that it will cost me everything. Not only does all my money become the property of Christ, but my house, my cars, my family, and even myself. The seller and the pearl seem to be Christ in this story. Perhaps he means that the seller is God the Father. He wants EVERYTHING! All I have and am comes under the ownership of Christ. And then Christ gives it back to me on the understanding that He is the owner and that it must be available for His use as needed. That’s the Kingdom of God – the authority of Christ to rule over my life.
I love the idea of the story – of everything coming under the authority and ownership of Christ, including ourselves. Afterall in Matthew 10:39 (NLT) Jesus says “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for Me, you will find it.”
What bothers me about Ortiz’s story is that the parable says that the merchant BUYS the Pearl of Great Price by selling everything He has. Last time I looked the Bible makes it clear that Salvation in Christ is NOT FOR SALE. I can’t buy what Christ has to offer from God. It is a GIFT (Romans 6:23) that comes to us as we respond to Christ in faith. It is given because of God’s GRACE. We can’t work for it, earn it or buy it, and we don’t deserve it in any way (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So perhaps I AM THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE!
Everytime I hear a message on this parable I hear how a pearl is born in great suffering and pain, when a foreign speck of sand enters the environment of the shell and causes the pearl to be formed as the oyster builds up layers of nacre to protect itself. This is used as a picture of SIN coming into the environment of our world and like an annoying, irritating foreign substance causes harm.
God deals with our sin. He becomes a man and also enters our environment and although He lives a perfect life, He experiences the SUFFERING AND PAIN that our sin has caused and He is crucified. Christ dies on the Cross for us. Like that layer of nacre that forms around the speck of sand that threatens to cause harm to oyster, He took man’s sin and bore it in His own body (1 Peter 2:24).
Our sin was an intrusion upon Him -foreign matter. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” He turns cursing into blessing. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT) says “He personally CARRIED OUR SINS in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” Galatians 3:13 (NLT) says that when Christ “was hung on the cross, He TOOK UPON HIMSELF the curse for our wrongdoing.”
Christ adorns us with the beautiful layer of His righteousness forming a pearl of great value. Isaiah 61:10 (NLT) says “He has DRESSED me with the clothing of salvation and DRAPED me in a robe of righteousness.” Ephesians 4:24 (NLT) says “PUT ON your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Colossians 2:10 (NLT) says “So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
I like the analogy but I’m not so sure it was intended when Jesus told this parable. It gets a little muddled if I take the analogy too far, but I think it illustrates what Christ came to do in us and that HIS LIFE BECOMES MINE.
I don’t even like pearls but nevertheless, like the pearl of great value, Christ came to purchase me and “There is salvation in no one else!” (Acts 4:12 NLT).
God bless you as you realise how valuable you are to God and in turn how valuable Christ is for your life today. Lord Jesus, YOU ARE SO WORTH IT ALL!