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13. The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

– Chapter 13 –

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

Matthew 13:45–46

Montreal, September 10, 1978


Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45–46, ESV)

An expert discerns the value of the pearl

Today we continue our study of the Lord’s parables, by looking at the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price in Matthew 13:45–46. Here the Lord Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a merchant, a whole­sale pearl dealer, who seeks not just any kind of pearl, but “fine pearls,” as it says here. On finding “one pearl of great value,” he went and sold every­thing he had. As a big business­man, he would have lots of assets and property. Yet he sold everything he had — thus giving some indication of the pearl’s value — and bought that pearl. What is the Lord Jesus saying to us through this beautiful parable?

I suppose that none of us here is an expert on pearls. A gemolog­ist can tell us something about pearls. If you put before me a polished plastic pearl, or a pearl made of sugar, or a cultured pearl, or a genuine pearl, I would hardly know the difference from one to another. I sup­pose I could tell the sugar pearl by licking it. I am not sure that I can tell a well-polished plastic pearl, since plastics today are so advanced that it may be hard to tell it’s plastic. And I don’t have any idea how to tell the difference between a cultured pearl and a genuine pearl. Pearls are of enormous value, but you have to be an expert to tell the difference from one to another.

Some women wear a string of pearls around their necks. The pearls look beautiful, but I suppose that some can be bought for a few hundred dollars, while others thousands of dollars. I am no expert on pearls. I don’t know how to verify that a pearl is genuine. Am I supposed to bite it, or put it under a microscope? None of this would help me much since I wouldn’t even know what to look for.

But this merchant has discernment, and can tell a valuable pearl when he sees one. I hope that at least in the spiritual realm, I can tell one pearl from another. Unfortunately, in the area of actual pearls, I am no expert at all.

In the days of the Lord Jesus, they did not have cultured pearls like what the Japanese are producing today, by artifi­cially injecting sand into an oyster and forcing it to produce a pearl. In ancient times, they could get only genuine pearls. These are found in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean. But the Red Sea swarms with sharks! A diver would go down to a considerable depth at great risk to his life. I don’t know how they kept the sharks at bay in those days. I have passed through the Red Sea, and have seen with my own eyes that if you throw a piece of meat into the Red Sea, the whole place would be swarming with sharks within minutes!

In those days, divers did not go down with oxygen tanks and sophisticated diving gear. They had to dive and hold their breath to look for pearls. And while looking for oysters, they had to watch that they don’t get eaten by a shark!

We are not experts on pearls, but at least we know that pearls come in various colors and sizes. Some pearls have a pinkish shade, some have a bluish hue, some are pure white, some are small, some are big. The quality of a pearl depends on its color, size, shape, and flawless­ness. Only when it is big and perfectly spherical would the pearl be considered of great value.

Just a few decades before the time of Jesus, Julius Caesar gave a pearl to Servilia, his friend Brutus’s mother, that was worth a quart­er of a million dollars! Wow! I don’t know how one would wear this pearl. I wouldn’t even know what to do with it.

But that was by no means the most expensive of pearls. According to the ancient writer, Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus), Cleopatra had a pearl that was worth five million dollars in modern-day terms. It must have been a huge, beauti­ful, and perfect pearl. So it gives us an idea of how enormously valuable pearls were in those days. A pearl of perfect beauty, large size, beautiful color, and high luster, was enormously valuable.

Once we understand the value of the pearl in the parable, we can surmise that it was probably even more valuable than the lost trea­sure of the previous parable. We will keep this in mind as we listen to what Jesus says about the merchant, a big businessman with a wholesale business, who looks for fine pearls. This is clearly not the first time he has been deal­ing in pearls, since he is looking for fine pearls.

One day he discovers a rare and except­ional pearl for which he has to give up all his other pearls he has bought so far. In modern-day terms, he has to give up all his possess­ions — his yacht, his houses, his cars — to buy this one pearl, which may be worth five million dollars. It takes a big busi­ness­man to afford a pearl like this. Then he buys this pearl of enormous price.

I’ve spent some time on this topic so that you wouldn’t think we are talk­ing about some Kyoto cultured pearls, but about rare and exceptional pearls of enormous value. Today you can go to a jeweler and buy a beautiful cultured pearl for a few hundred dollars. But we are talking about a pearl of enormous value. It is not just any kind of pearl, but one that costs the merchant everything!

What does the pearl represent?

What does this pearl represent in the Lord’s teaching? What is the message of this parable? I would like to say again that expounding the Bible is not a matter of guesswork or blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind. Responsible Bible exposition would involve careful checking of the cross refer­ences.

But we are not left in the dark because the Lord Jesus uses the word “pearl” twice, with related meaning. The first time is in Matthew 7:6, the second time is here in Matthew 13:45. In Matthew 7:6, Jesus says:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (ESV)

1. The pearl represents something holy

A few things begin to emerge. First, notice the Biblical principle of parallelism: “Do not give what is holy to dogs; do not cast your pearls before swine.” The word “pearls” stands in parallel to “what is holy” (which in the original text is one Greek word hagion). Hence “holy” and “pearls” stand in parallel, and similarly “dogs” and “swine” stand in parallel. This is a well-known Biblical way of expression, in which the same thing is stated in parallel form. You see this often in Proverbs and the Psalms. In this instance, it tells us that when Jesus speaks of pearls, he is thinking about something holy.

2. The value of the pearl must be discerned

Second, the value of “what is holy” has to be discerned, just as the value of a pearl has to be discerned. Dogs cannot tell the difference between what is holy and what is not, so Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs.”

Nor do you give pearls to pigs, because they won’t understand the value of pearls. If you give them pearls, they may even turn on you and attack you after having trampled on the pearls. Why? Because pearls don’t taste good, and pigs are only interested in food. If you give rice to pigs, oh, they will appreciate it because rice tastes good. But if you give them pearls worth millions of times more than a bowl of rice, they will attack you because they feel cheated: “We want rice but you give us pearls. I can’t eat pearls! You are cheating me!” They don’t understand the value of pearls, and don’t know that if you sell this one pearl, you can buy enough rice to fill a warehouse.

We immediately realize that in the language of Jesus, the pearl is spoken of as representing something holy, and because it is holy, it refers to something spiritual. That much is plain. Yet the value of what is spiritual still has to be discerned.

Paul makes this very point, that spiritual things are spirit­ually discerned:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14–16, ESV)

Dogs and pigs don’t have spiritual discernment, so they don’t know what is holy. The non-Christian too doesn’t under­stand what is holy and spiritual, for he lacks spiritual discern­ment. From all this, we begin to see that in Jesus’ teaching, the pearl is a picture of something holy and spiritual, which is discerned only by some­one with a certain level of spiritual discernment.

Now what might that pearl be?

3. The pearl is something we make our own

The third thing we notice are the words “your pearls” in Matthew 7:6: “Do not throw your pearls to the pigs.” These pearls are something we actually possess and make our own. Since this holy and spiritual thing is something we can make our own, that gives us a lot of clues, including the fact of its infinite value. So what can that thing be? In the parable of the pearl of great price, the pearl is Jesus, but what does pearl represent in Matthew 7:6?

Spiritual wisdom is more precious than silver, gold, jewels, pearls

As the next step of our exposition, we turn to the Old Testa­ment to see what a pearl may be. We see something along this line in Proverbs 3:13–15,

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets under­standing, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and its profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. (ESV)

In these verses, the one who is blessed — spiritually happy — finds spiritual wisdom, and acquires spiritual understanding, which is bet­ter than anything you could desire. It is “better than silver and gold,” and “more precious than jewels.” It is the most precious of all. Why is that so?

As you read on in Proverbs, you will see that it is through wisdom that you come to know God, and through wisdom that you gain eternal life in God. No wonder wisdom is so precious! We have seen that this is exactly what a pearl repre­sents. Wisdom is something holy, something to be spiritually under­stood, something we can possess. That is what Proverbs says about spiritual wisdom, that it brings us to God.

Job 28:12 says, “But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?” This question comes from some­one who is seeking spiritual wisdom and under­standing, reminding us of the parable of the pearl, with the merchant asking, “Where can I find fine pearls?” Continuing in Job 28:

Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living. The deep says, “It is not in me,” and the sea says, “It is not with me.” It cannot be bought for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price. It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire. (Job 28:13–16, ESV)

Spiritual wisdom is found nowhere in the world, not even in the depths of the sea. Gold and silver cannot compare with the value of wisdom, not even the gold of Ophir, nor precious onyx or sapphire. Verses 17–20 say:

Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal; the price of wisdom is above pearls. The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold. From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? (Job 28:17–20, ESV)

Here we see the word “pearls”. Spiritual wisdom and under­standing are more valuable than pearls, topaz, and pure gold.

Spiritual wisdom is in the Word of God

Where then do we find this spiritual wisdom, this under­standing? We have questions without clear answers, but the Old Test­ament is not without an answer, for we have one in Psalm 19:7–10,

The Law of Yahweh is perfect, refreshment to the soul; the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy, wisdom for the simple. The precepts of Yahweh are honest, joy for the heart; the command­ment of Yahweh is pure, light for the eyes. The fear of Yahweh is pure, lasting for ever; the judgments of Yahweh are true, upright, every one, more desirable than gold, even than the finest gold; His words are sweeter than honey, that drips from the comb. (Psalm 19:7–10, NJB)

Where can spiritual wisdom and understanding be found? In the Word of God! God’s Word is described here as “the Law of Yahweh,” “the precepts of Yahweh,” “the commandment of Yahweh,” and “the judgments of Yahweh.” The psalmist says that “the Law of Yahweh is perfect,” without blemish. It is “refreshment to the soul,” for it gives life. The Word of God is “perfect” — like a perfect and spherical pearl without blemish. It is “wisdom for the simple” (notice again “wisdom”). It is “joy for the heart” (cf. the merchant’s joy after he buys the pearl of great value). It is “more desirable than gold, even than the finest gold”. Such is the preciousness of the Word of God that the finest gold cannot compare with it.

As we trace the exegesis of this picture through the Scriptures, the pearl in Matthew 7:6 refers to the Word of God. Now we understand the meaning of, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs.” The Word of God is precious to those who seek it; but don’t stuff it down the throats of those who don’t want it. They won’t be grateful to you. It will only invite hostility, without any spiritual benefit to you or to them. Never stuff the precious Word of God down their throats against their will.

The pearl in Matthew 7:6 is the Word of God. The Word of God is holy, and we must have spiritual discernment before we can engrave it in our hearts for it to become our possession. Paul says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16a). Christ teaches us the Word of God, and if we store his teachings richly in our hearts, we will possess the Word of God.

Jesus, the pearl of great price

We follow the exegetical procedure through the Scriptures, step by step, and not resort to guesswork, until we under­stand the message of today’s parable.

Colossians 2:3 says, “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ.” More than that, God — the source of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6; 3:19–20) — was pleased to dwell in Christ in all His fullness (Col. 1:19).

The connection between wisdom and Christ — the pearl of great price — is further established in 1 Corinthians chapter 1: “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v.24) and “Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God” (v.30).

Concentrate on Jesus Christ

Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value ….” The word “one” here stresses the uniqueness of this pearl. Jesus is more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. There is only one pearl of great price, for there is only one Jesus Christ. The word “one” reminds us of “one thing” in Luke 10:41–42,

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42, ESV)

Only “one thing” is necessary, not “many things.” Our lives have to be perfect­ly concentrated. I wonder whether your life is concentrated or scat­tered. Many Christians live a scattered life without a clear purpose or direct­ion. But this pearl merchant knew exactly what he was look­ing for. He sought after it, found it, and bought that one pearl of great price that cost him everything he had.

You might ask, Is it wise to lose everything for one pearl? Why not settle for mediocre pearls, so that you can still keep your car, your house, your field, your business, whatever? That is the thinking in most people’s minds, for we haven’t yet under­stood Jesus’ words, “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” We are to follow him, his life example and his teaching, for he is the way, the truth, and the life who leads us to God. Concen­trate on this one thing.

Concentration in the practical Christian life

The principle of concentration extends to all areas of the Christian life. The one who tries to learn too many things at the same time will end up learning nothing well. But if a person, even if he takes up many activities, starts to concentrate on being really good at one thing, he will have a breakthrough at some point. I have found that this applies in every area of learning. To be good at anything, you have to concen­trate on that one thing.

As an example from the secular world, I used to learn judo. Judo has various hold or grip techniques to throw the opponent over the legs, over the hips, or over the shoulders. As one who likes to think things through, I thought to myself about how to be good in judo with its many grips, holds, and maneuvers. How do I become good at judo? Do I perfect myself in all the throw techniques?

It dawned on me that if I mastered one particular throw to perfection, I would be nearly unbeatable. I decided to test this by mastering the shoul­der throw in which you take a person by his arm, swing around, and throw him over your shoulder. The reason I chose this kind of throw is that it is very devastating. One normally cannot get up quickly from that kind of throw, unless you are a judo expert.

I felt that, by contrast, the tripping throw — throwing a person over your foot — would make him fall, but he will be up the next second to attack you, which is not good. If you throw him over the hip, it is slightly higher, but not high enough to do considerable damage. After all, self-defense is to put the other guy out of action, not to spend the whole day fighting him! So I felt that the shoulder throw was the most effective one.

It is effective also because most of the other throws require you to grab his clothes. If it’s a hot summer day, and he is wearing a thin shirt, what exactly do you grab? If you grab his shirt, you will end up holding it in your hand, which is no good! But the shoulder throw has the enormous advantage of not having to grab his clothes. All you need to do is hold his wrist or his forearm. You grab his wrist, and with one flick, he ends up crashing at the other end.

This suited me ideally, and so I spent hours perfecting this one throw. I worked out every movement in detail, to know what I have to do when the other person moves. I knew all the other throws, but I mastered this one to perfection.

The day came when I was ready to try it out. I didn’t want to try it out on some guy who was on the same level as I, but on a judo expert, to see whether my move had been perfected sufficiently to cope with the best. So when my black-belt instructor came along — a huge fellow, six feet tall, muscular compared to my bony frame — I thought, “Fair enough, it’s David against Goliath. Here’s my chance to try it out!” He was a weightlifter as well, so you can imagine how strong he was. He could lift me off the ground and throw me down. That was not judo but weightlifting.

I asked him, “Can I have a little workout with you?” He said, “Sure, sure,” thinking who am I to take him on. He is the instructor, second dan black belt. We had a little workout, then I chose my moment and blitzed quickly. What a shriek of surprise came from him as all 200 pounds of him went sailing through the air, and hit the tatami mat with a loud thud! He was taken by surprise and quite shaken. And I thought, “So it does work!”

This is a lesson not only in judo but life as a whole: con­centrate on one thing if you are going to be good at it. Don’t mess around with a hundred things, because eventually you won’t be good at any of them. If I had tried to perfect every throw, I would be unable to perfect any one of them except with a great investment of time and effort. But by concen­trating on one effective throw, I was able to perfect it to such an extent that I could throw an expert.

Concentrate on one gift to serve God

This applies also to the spiritual life. Many Christians live scattered lives, and don’t become good at anything in the Christian life. If you want to live the Christian life effectively, ask yourself before God, “What are my gifts? I am going to concentrate on one particular gift until I become really good at serving God.” If every Christian thinks in this way, the church would be full of outstanding people! Many can sing, but one person among them may become an outstanding singer, praising God with his or her voice. If you have a sing­ing voice, work at it. Train every day. Go up and down the scales. Find a piano, and practice on it even if it is damaged. Sing until you have perfected one song. Develop your volume, your control, your range, until you become outstanding.

You will then discover something interesting: when you become good at one thing, you will become good at other things. For some reason, being advanced in one area raises your general standard in all the other things you do. You will become better than most people in the other things, and exceptional in one.

If you have a gift in leading Bible studies, work at it! Learn to study the Word of God more deeply, and present it more effectively. I hope that those who are training for full-time service are doing this. I hope they will become experts at exegesis. This was a goal of mine. For years I worked and worked at it, learning to under­stand the Word of God and to expound it, because having under­stood it, you still have to convey it to others.

You may be good at writing, so improve on it. Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity. Work hard on improving your sen­tence structure, making your sentences clearer, and im­proving the general present­ation of your message in writing.

I say again that every one of you has a gift. If I understand my Bible, there is nobody in the church who doesn’t have a gift. Everyone has a gift in some area that can be used for God. Concentrate on that.

I concentrated on perfecting the one judo throw, not because I wanted to throw people for the fun of it, but to acquire self-defense skills that I can use effectively in all situations. You must under­stand that I was not a Christian in those days, so I would respond speedily with a martial arts move. Today I might react somewhat differ­ently, for I am a servant of God, and would consider how I would act in the circumstances.

But above all, make sure that your purpose for concen­trating on God’s gift to you is a higher objective: pleasing God. Why would you want to perfect your singing? Is it not the means to the end of pleasing God whom you love? If you are leading a Bible study, or if you write, your objective would be to bring bless­ing to others and to be pleasing to God. If we love Him, should we not so live as to be pleasing to Him? It then becomes the means to that great end ahead of us: seeing Him in His kingdom.

It costs us everything to gain Christ

The parable follows the “all or nothing” principle: the man sells all he has to gain the pearl. Such is his concen­tration that he counts everything as rubbish so that he may gain the pearl of great price.

Don’t be scattered! Don’t try, on the one hand, to love the world, making your nest in the world; and on the other hand to gain the pearl of great price. You cannot do that! Jesus is saying that if you want this pearl, it is going to cost you everything. If it doesn’t cost you every­thing, you will never get it. It is as simple as that. Too many Christians don’t seem to understand this, from what I can observe of how they live. They think they can have the best of both worlds and still end up gaining this pearl of great price, as well as God’s eternal life through Christ. But that won’t happen. That is the Lord’s teach­ing, not mine.

The Lord Jesus says, “If you want to be my disciple, sell everything you have and follow me.” That was what he said to the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16–22, but the young man didn’t under­stand this. He asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life? I have kept the Law.” Jesus replied, If you want to be perfect, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (v.21) By the word “perfect,” Jesus was not talking about achieving moral perfect­ion. We can never be absolutely sinless or morally perfect in this life. In Biblical teaching, perfection in this life is not sinless moral perfection but the per­fection of total commit­ment, which is the minimum requirement for salvation.

In a different incident, a lawyer asks the Lord Jesus,

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two com­mand­ments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36–40, ESV)

Jesus gives this same message to the rich young ruler, “If you want to inherit eternal life, keep the commandments, the two greatest of which are to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. How do you love God with all your heart? By selling all that you have and give to the poor, your neighbor. Then come, follow me.” Perfection in the Bible is total love for God.

In Luke 12:32–33, Jesus says the same thing to his disciples,

Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. (Luke 12:32–33, ESV)

How much is that one pearl worth to you? Do you want to have it for nothing? Do you want to have Christ for nothing? That is not what the Bible teaches. That pearl will cost you everything. Until it does, you won’t have the pearl. It’s as simple as that. The merchant, having discovered the pearl, has to sell all that he has to purchase it. What does it mean? It means a total commit­ment to Christ, and fixing your eyes on him. This in turn will reflect your total commitment to God his Father; it is to concentrate your whole being on loving God fully.

If you don’t do this, your witness for God will count for nothing. No wonder many Christians go through life having no witness. They are not lights in the world. They behave like non-Christians. They think like non-Christians. They are a little bit more religious, nothing more. In Bible teaching, being a Christian is not like that. The Bible teaches total com­mitment such that wherever you go, your dedicat­ion, your commitment, your total love for God, your uncon­ditional obedience to Jesus’ teaching — all these stand out! Everyone will know that you are a committed Christian, that you have given all to follow Christ.

As I have said endless times, I am not talking about full-time service but about a heart attitude towards God. I have said many times that many in full-time service are not totally committed. For them, being a pastor is a profession, their bread and butter — or their bowl of rice, as the Chinese would say. It is just a job that has nothing to do with total commit­ment. I hope that those who hold the office of pastor are totally committed, and will not conduct themselves as if the two — commitment and the pastoral office — don’t necessarily go together.

You will find God only if you seek Him with all your heart through Jesus

Are you like the merchant who searches for the priceless pearl? Do you seek what is spiritually valuable? If you are only seeking the world, this parable would be meaningless to you, for it addresses people who are seeking this pearl of eternal value.

Why does Jesus compare himself to the pearl of great value? It is because only when you have Jesus will you be able to build a relation­ship with God. God reveals Himself to us through Jesus, so that we may come to know the only true God through Jesus. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Are you willing to come to know God with an unwavering deter­min­ation to seek Him, and to build a friendship with Him?

When Jesus told the parable of the pearl, he may have had in mind the following words of Moses spoken to the Israelites:

If from there you start searching once more for Yahweh your God, and if you search for him honestly and sincere­ly, you will find him. (Deuteronomy 4:29, NJB)

Bear in mind this promise, that you will find God if you search for Him with all your heart, all your soul. If you have not yet found God, remember these words. You may be seeking Him, yet not with all your heart and soul. You still lack this determination of purpose.

Who can find God? Only those who are totally committed to seek Him with all heart and soul. God will be found by those who search for Him and for the truth, with a total commitment that says, “If I find God, I am willing that it will cost me every­thing.” Why would you seek Him if He doesn’t mean much to you in the first place? What does His Son, Jesus Christ, mean to you? One pearl among many? Then you have not under­stood the value of this pearl, and you are not worthy to gain it. Jesus says, “He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt. 10:38), for he has not yet understood the preciousness of Jesus.

We are not talking about believing in some religion, but Jesus the Son of God, “the image of the invis­ible God” (Col. 1:15), whose value has no price! You cannot put a price tag on him. If you have not yet understood this, you will think that what you possess is worth more than that pearl. If the merchant thought that all his possessions were worth more than the pearl, he would not sell everything to buy it, would he? Especially if he thinks it’s unnecessary to do so.

If you visit a jeweler and find a pearl that costs $300, and if after looking at your possessions you say, “I can pay the $300; I don’t need to sell everything to buy that pearl,” then you have not found it worth all that you have. But if you see a pearl with a price tag of $3,000,000, that is a different matter! You now realize that this pearl is of such great value that getting it will cost you more than every­thing you have.

What value do you place on Jesus? From the way many Christians live, he is clearly not very valuable to them. They may give him one or two hours on Sunday, even five or six hours over the stretch of a week. They may give a monthly offering of few dollars or maybe even $200, but is Jesus worth everything to them? That is the question.

The one who buys that pearl is the one who sells everything and is totally committed. This is different from the Christianity you have heard, but it is the teaching of Jesus. Does your Christian life measure up to it?

Can you say with Paul in Philippians 3:8, “I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”? Paul regards the pearl as being of greater worth than every­thing else put together. He counts all the cherished things he has ever gained not merely as valueless, but as rubbish, that he may gain Christ. Do you have Paul’s mentality?

The pearl has the perfect characteristics of Christ

In conclusion, consider the picture of this beautiful pearl that repre­sents Christ. The roundness of the pearl represents the perfection of Christ. The whiteness of the pearl represents his purity and holiness. The radiance of the pearl represents his glory and beauty. The pearl is produced by suffering, just as Jesus’ faith and character are shaped by suffering in doing God’s will. As Hebrews 5:8–9 says:

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:8–9, ESV)

Do you see Christ as that beautiful, priceless pearl, who is worth all your possessions to buy it? I hope that the message of the priceless pearl will get through to you. The whole emphasis of this parable is this one thing: Gaining this pearl will cost you everything. If it doesn’t cost you everything, you have not yet obtained that pearl of great price. 



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