Summary: This is week 3 of our series on the Kingdom of Heaven is like. . . This week it is like a man hunting for the perfect pearl and what he was like
He had it all, at least on the surface. A good business, a fine family, status in the community. He had everything it would appear, but not quite enough. Some men craved after gold or silver or jewels not this man. Those things were all so cold and inanimate, forged and moulded deep inside an unfeeling earth. Instead he sought after pearls. Those beautiful gems which began their existence as a simple irritant, a piece of grit or sand buried deep in the mantle of an oyster. And then a miracle, slowly ever so slowly the oyster began to secrete nacre, the very substance that made up its shell. One layer was added to the grit, and then another and another until finally a lowly piece of sand had become one of the world’s most beautiful gems.
Pearls, they were almost a gift from God, well almost; they still had to be paid for. And then one day he found it, the most incredible pearl he had every laid eyes on. Everything about it was perfect, the size the shape the colour, everything was perfect.
He had to have it, it had to be his. And so he sold everything that he had so that he could purchase this one exquisite pearl. Was he happy? We don’t know but this little story was told by Jesus in Matthew 13:45-46 “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!”
This is week three of our summer series “The Kingdom of Heaven is like. . .” We started with the statement that the Kingdom of Heaven is like an Inukshuk. Just in case you were wondering about all of the inksuit around and in the church campus. And so we discovered that the Kingdom of Heaven shared characteristics with the Inukshuk. The Inukshuk was a memorial marker and the Kingdom of Heaven is here to remind us that Christ was here. The inukshuk provided landmarks in a barren land devoid of landmarks and the Kingdom of Heaven, manifested through the church provides moral landmarks, the Inukshuk pointed people in the right direction and as a church we are to point people to God and ultimately heaven. And the inukshuk would act as a warning to travellers about dangers they might encounter. And the church is to warn people about their behaviour and attitudes.
Jesus looked around at his surrounding and compared the Kingdom of heaven to everyday things that his listeners would understand. The fact that Jesus used a pearl as an illustration for the kingdom of God might be lost on us in 2010 but it was an illustration that would have struck home with the men and women who made up Christ’s world.
You see pearls were valued not only for their monetary worth but also for their aesthetic qualities. For their beauty and because of that many of the people who bought and collected pearls did so just to have them, not as an investment, not as something to be bought and sold. Instead they were seen as something to be held and admired.
And so for a few moments this morning I want to look at this merchant who was so intent on having a pearl like no other pearl that he had ever seen.
1) He Was Dissatisfied With What He Had
Often times we think of dissatisfaction as a negative, we see someone who grumbles about everything they have, about everything that happens to them and we think, this person is dissatisfied with life.
But when you stop and think about it every discovery, every advancement, every achievement that man has made has been because he was dissatisfied with the status quo.
Because Thomas Edison was dissatisfied with reading by candle and we have electric lights, Alexander was tired of Mrs. Bell yelling at him to come home so we have telephones. Because John Wesley was dissatisfied with the Anglican Church’s response to slavery, poverty and child labour we have the Wesleyan church. If it weren’t for dissatisfaction we’d still be living under trees, dressing in fig leaves and eating cold food. It must have been dissatisfaction that drove people to try cooking their meat.
Was it that Roger Bannister was dissatisfied with just being another runner that lead him to break the four minute mile? Could it be that Wayne Gretzky was dissatisfied with being just another hockey player that led him to break every record and earn every title in the NHL with the exception of most valuable goalie?
The hero of our story was not a shopkeeper; the Greek word would indicate that he was a wholesaler, a trader on a large scale. It was probably dissatisfaction that took him from selling fruit door to door, to owning his own stall, to trading in goods from all over the world and now he was seeking the perfect pearl. Perhaps he was seeking the largest pearl in the world. By the way the largest pearl out there that we know of is from a giant clam and it called the Pearl of Allah., it weighs 6.8 kilos and is worth approximately $40,000,000.00 And in 1999 Osama Bin Ladin made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase it as a gift for Saddam Hussein. Or perhaps he was looking for a pearl that was simply perfect, this is a Melo Pearl, comes from a giant sea snail in the south china sea. We don’t know but we do know that he was dissatisfied with whatever other pearls he had.