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Summary: Pearl-It’s the only gem that can’t be improved by man. You can cut and polish a diamond, ruby and other stones. BUT … if you begin to mess with a pearl, you ruin it. It’s perfect when it’s formed.

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The man who is searching for the pearls is, Jesus himself.

"What other great treasure does God value in this world?" -- in order to discover what this pearl means. The church.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, ... that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. {Eph 5:25b, 5:27 RSV}

Why did our Lord choose the symbol of the pearl for the church? Why didn't he use the ruby or the diamond, or any other jewel?

The answer is that the pearl is the only jewel which is the product of living matter.

A pearl is the response of an oyster to something which causes it injury.

A pearl grows out of hurt.

You probably know how a pearl is formed. A little particle of sand or some other irritating substance gets inside the shell of the oyster and it is like cracker crumbs in bed -- constantly irritating. The oyster has no hands with which it can brush the irritant out, no means of defense except to transform that thing that is injuring it.

Healing human hurt is God's business. The cross is God's answer to the hurt humanity has caused.

Every family, every individual bears deep and abiding heartache.

Sometimes it is very evident on the surface. Most of it is due to the fact that we suffer from guilt, a sense of condemnation and self-hate. This is so because we have such a deep and abiding sense of being a failure. But this is what the cross is all about. God saw that hurt in the human race, all the agony and misery of our struggle to try to live properly without understanding the secrets of doing so. He wanted to do something about that, but he had a problem -- a problem with which everyone of us is familiar.

I am sure that you all have had someone try to "help" you to stop doing something which they saw was wrong and was injuring you. But if they came with a self-righteous attitude, placing themselves on a level higher than you, and began to correct you while implying that they couldn't understand how you could get into this kind of difficulty because they would never do a thing like that -- you know what your reaction would be.

You would immediately be filled with resentment and would not hear a word they said. Instead of listening to what they were saying in order to try to open your eyes, you would have your hackles raised and would be very defensive. Everything they might say would only increase your resentment, and hostility, and sense of guilt.

So how could he reach us? In order to gain us, in order to form the pearl which he so desperately wants and loves and cherishes, he came and gave all that he had. That means that he took our place. He came where we are. He came into the place of hurt and agony and heartache and loneliness and sorrow and shame and darkness, and became what we are.

There is no greater commentary on this phrase than that in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 5, Verse 21: "He who knew no sin was made sin for us."

When Jesus came, without making any contribution to this on his own part ("he who knew no sin"), nevertheless in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross he entered fully into what we feel. He felt the hurt. He knew the aching loneliness, the heartache, the misery, the rejection, the sense of despair, of self-loathing, of emptiness and worthlessness and meaninglessness, and the awful hostility that sin engenders. He felt the condemnation of a righteous God.


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