Summary: The good news is of infinite worth; when we discover it, everything else is put in proper perspective.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
In a parable, Jesus conveys the worth of the Kingdom…
The merchant in this parable seems to be doing fairly well. He’s successful enough, and lives a comfortable life…but one day he discovers a priceless pearl that destroys all his illusions. He sees something so valuable that everything he owns seems to pale in comparison. Everything he possessed that seemed so valuable now appears dull and lackluster…so he liquidates his assets in order to obtain this priceless object.
Life in Bible times was marked by political and economic instability. There were no banks or safe-deposit boxes, so people often buried their valuables, and sometimes they remained buried, abandoned. Finding such a treasure was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.
The merchant in the story didn’t need to be persuaded of the pearl’s worth; it was obvious. The pearl put all he deemed important into a different perspective, because in it, he discovered something of utmost worth.
We’re all seeking a life that matters--not mere existence. We all need a reason to get up in the morning; otherwise, why live another day? Like it or not, we have to face some ultimate questions: “What’s the point of life?” “Who am I, and why am I here?” “What is beauty?” Atheists have to admit that--in their worldview--beauty is meaningless and life is an accident. Most people find that perspective unsatisfactory, and seek the Source of all the beauty that surrounds us. Nature is a signpost showcasing the creativity of the Creator, whose fingerprints are everywhere.
Maybe pearls don’t excite us. Maybe something else in nature would better get our attention: a waterfall, a sunset, a walk in the woods…and when we encounter such beauty we may exclaim “Wow!” when we should be asking “Why?” Have you ever wondered why there is beauty? Where does your delight lead you? Does it point you to the One who made the pearl, the waterfall, the sunset, the forest? -And the One who has a plan for your life?
We mistakenly elevate happiness to the highest value, because we don’t realize we can do better than that—we can find purpose for our existence. When we realize we’re part of a story that God is writing, we fit into something that satisfies our longings. We can just exist, but that’s hardly enough. We want, we need more.
C.S. Lewis realized this; as an atheist, he yearned for joy and did not find it until he discovered the Pearl of great price. He reflected that, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us….If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”