Summary: The gospel is God’s perfect pearl. The perfect, one-of-a-kind message is what we need and will want to value!
Who likes treasure hunts? What do you say we have one right now! I have a cooler here in which I’ve hidden a treasure. Can one of you children come up and find it? (Child looks for treasure.) What’s that you have? A pebble? I wonder how that got in there? That’s not worth anything. Just toss it aside and keep looking for the real treasure. There, you found it! What is it? Hold it up so everyone can see. It’s a gold coin – a chocolate gold coin that is. Is this a treasure you would like to have? Yes? Well, what are you willing to give me for it? Even though you found the treasure, it was in my cooler so it still belongs to me. Are you willing to give me all your toys, video games, and piggy bank savings for this piece of chocolate? No? Why not? Because it’s not that valuable is it? Is there anything you would give away all your toys and money to have? It would have to be something pretty special wouldn’t it?
In our sermon text Jesus tells us that there is something worth giving up all we have, to retain. That prized possession is the gospel – the good news that Jesus came to save us from our sins. In a parable, Jesus compares the gospel message to a pearl of great worth. We may all nod our head in agreement with that description of the gospel but here’s what I want you to ask yourself this morning: do I treat the gospel like a precious pearl, or a pathetic pebble? Since the gospel is our greatest possession, Jesus will teach us today to recognize its value and to treasure its worth.
The parable Jesus tells to make his point is only two verses long. In the parable, Jesus describes a pearl merchant who stumbles upon a one-of-a-kind pearl. It’s so beautiful and nothing like any other pearl he has seen that he immediately sells all his other pearls, his home, his land, everything he owns to buy the perfect pearl.
This perfect pearl represents the message of salvation found in the Bible. This message is perfect because it tells us everything we need to know for this life and the next. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and deserve God’s eternal punishment in hell. But the Bible also says that Jesus came to take that punishment – like your next-door neighbor paying for the fire damage that your backyard fire pit did to her house.
Doesn’t it seem unlikely though that we would find the secret to eternal life in a book written thousands of years ago, or preached from a pulpit in a small, unpretentious church like this? I’m sure it also seemed unlikely to the first person who pried open a dull, slimy clamshell that a glowing pearl would be nestled within. A pearl in a clamshell. That’s often how God works. He comes to us in unlikely places to give us his love. Could that be illustrated any more beautifully than it is at Christmas? At Christmas, the Son of God, our Savior, was born…in a barn! And then this Jesus willingly gave up his life on the cross to pay for our sins and win us a place in heaven. This message is God’s priceless, perfect gift for us!
The gospel pearl is not only perfect; it’s one of a kind. That’s something the pearl merchant in the parable understood. He had spent his life looking for such a pearl and when he found it, he knew it was foolish to keep clutching the inferior pearls he had collected along the way – especially if it meant that he didn’t have a free hand for the perfect pearl. And so he got rid of all the other pearls he had collected to purchase the perfect one.