“AGAIN, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE UNTO A MERCHANT MAN,
SEEKING GOODLY PEARLS WHO, WHEN HE HAD FOUND ONE PEARL OF
GREAT PRICE, WENT AND SOLD ALL THAT HE HAD, AND BOUGHT IT.”
Have you ever considered what it is that makes a pearl valuable? Why is it that some pearls can be several hundred dollars while similar looking pearls can be several thousand or even millions of dollars? According to gemologists the reason for the different prices has to do with two things: 1) the origin of the pearl; and 2) the characteristics and attributes of the pearl.
Where did the pearl come from? Did it come from rare oysters in the South Sea or was it made at an oyster farm in Kentucky? The pearl from the scarcest origin and with the highest difficulty of obtaining is the one that will command the most value.
What are the characteristics and attributes of the pearl? The larger its size, the higher the price it will likely command. The more symmetrical its shape, the higher its value. The luster of the pearl impacts the value. Is it transparent or cloudy? Does it reflect light very well or is it dull? The imperfections of the surface will impact the value. Are there many scratches and dimples or few? In other words, the greater the size, the closer the symmetry, the fewer the imperfections, the better the reflection, the higher the pearl’s value will be.
So why can one pearl be $100 and another $1,000,000? The answer comes down to just one word – perfection. The closer a pearl from a rare origin comes to perfection, the higher the value.
The merchant in Matthew finds such a pearl. He finds not many but one pearl. He finds not a pearl of small price but one of great price. He sells not some to acquire it but all to acquire it. This he does because he has found the perfect pearl! It is a pearl so perfect there never can be one better or more perfect. As such, with nothing better that he could possibly attain, this merchant of pearls sells all that he has and buys the perfect pearl. Who is this merchant? What is it about this particular pearl that makes it so perfect?
Study and meditation of the merchant necessitates knowledge of the pearl. In our meditations on the merchant and the pearl, we will consider the one pearl of great price that the merchant has found and then we will consider the merchant.
As we embark on this study we must realize that this one great pearl of great price is one that many have found but very few in comparison to all who have lived. It is freely offered to all and freely offered to you today. Do you have this pearl? Are you this merchant? If you are in the Kingdom of Heaven today then you have this pearl. Are you living and treasuring it as the merchant did? If you are outside of this Kingdom of Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ calls all men now to look unto Him and be saved for He is the LORD and there is none other!
May the Lord use this meditation on His Word toward the end that Christians might know that they have eternal life and continue believing on the name of the Son of God. May the Lord use these meditations so that lost souls might come to the Father through the Son by the Spirit and take possession of the one perfect pearl of great price.
In the opening pages of Scripture God introduces Pharaoh, King of Egypt, who is greatly troubled by two dreams. When Joseph is introduced to the king as an interpreter Joseph begins his interpretation in Gen. 41: 25 by telling Pharaoh that the dream of Pharaoh is “One”. Pharaoh had two dreams but Joseph tells them they are actually one in meaning. At the end of the interpretation, Joseph elaborates; the dream was doubled “because the thing is established by God…”
The repetition of God’s instruction is a regular event in His Word. The Lord repeats things in His Word for many reasons including to affirm that it is true, highly important, and we can rely upon it with certainty. He also repeats it because man is so prone to ignore it, forget it, deny it, or skip it. Between Isaiah Chapter 40 through Isaiah Chapter 50 the phrase, “I am the Lord and there is none else” or a phrase similar to this is repeated dozens of times. Why? So the whole world would hear it; so that the elect would believe it; so that Christians might remind each other of it; so that we might repent of denying it; and so that we might delight in the Triune God. God does not deliver to us the account of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection but one time only – rather he does it four times in complete narrative and countless other times by reference in the remainder of the New Testament.
This pattern is repeated in the parable of the merchant and the pearl. In Matthew 13:44, the Lord has shown the value of the treasure of Jesus Christ and he is doubling that parable and instruction in the parable of the merchant and the pearl. Why? Jesus is establishing the importance, reality, reliability, and truth that to have Christ is the greatest treasure in all the world and no worldly treasure can compare. This theme is not unique to our parable today but is throughout Scripture, perhaps most explicitly in Philippians 3 and the opening chapters of Ephesians in the New Testament while hitting high notes in Psalms and Isaiah in the Old Testament.
The Lord is revealing truth whose importance and value to lives cannot be over-emphasized. Are you listening to Him through His Word? If you are a Christian: do you recognize the treasure that you have? If uncertain of your standing, do you want this treasure you read of? May the Lord grant to all men eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to understand, all with the blessing and work of the Holy Spirit who alone makes this hearing, seeing, and understanding possible.
I do not presume that this short series of meditations on the merchant and the pearl will do or even could do full justice to a passage of God’s Word that deals with his beauty and perfection and the way of the man who has found Him. However, I do pray that these letters will delight the heart, convict of sin and self-deceit, destroy and lingering chains of love for the world, increase our love for the true Christ, and persuade us to pursue at all cost, for the whole of our lives, the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ whose wisdom and glory surpasses all understanding and whose own power brings us to attain the glorious resurrection of the dead. May the Lord use these meditations for His glory and His people’s good.
“THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN…”
What is this Kingdom of Heaven? The Kingdom of Heaven is a familiar phrase but probably one that results in a variety of definitions. In Matthew and in the other gospels, Jesus defines the Kingdom by showing the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God) in a variety of ways.
He shows what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like by showing the people who are in the Kingdom of Heaven – those who are not ashamed to call Jesus Christ their God. Those in the Kingdom of Heaven are the good soil on which the seed of the Word of God has been sown. Those in the Kingdom of Heaven joyfully submit to Christ as the Sovereign Lord of their lives. The way into the Kingdom of Heaven is spiritual and we may enter it truthfully in this life through the new birth (regeneration) accomplished by Jesus Christ, applied to us by the Holy Spirit, according to the love and election of God the Father.
The people whose God is the Lord are in the Kingdom of the Lord. The King of the Kingdom is of course Jesus Christ and He is reigning now putting all His enemies under his footstool and subduing all His people to Himself. And it is into this Kingdom that Jesus Himself calls all men to enter through the gifts of faith and repentance (Mark 1:15). Now in the parable of the merchant and the pearl Jesus shows what the people in the Kingdom of Heaven are like and what it is that they have. They can be compared to, they are like, a merchant man who is seeking goodly pearls. This merchant finds one pearl of great price, sells all that he has, and buys the pearl of great price. Christians (the elect/believers/the saints), are like this merchant man. They have the pearl of great price.
For those who are currently outside of this Kingdom of Heaven or do not know if they are in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ freely offers entrance into this Kingdom. All men are called today, right now, to look unto Him, repent, believe, and be saved. God is the Lord and there is no other Savior!
Ben Stahl, Elder