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).