The parable of the Pearl of Great Price is one of the “kingdom parables” which describes some aspect of the coming kingdom which was prophesied of old (Isaiah 2:2, 3; Daniel 2:44, 45), and its coming was preached by John the Baptizer (Matthew 3:2) and Jesus (Matthew 4:17, 10:7). The preaching of the coming kingdom was fulfilled in the establishment of the church (Matthew 16:17-19; Acts 2:47), making the kingdom and the church equivalent to one another. The parable of the Pearl of Great Price only encompasses two verses (Matthew 13:45-46), but contains a great deal of meaning which is applicable to all of mankind today.
The Background of the Parable
The Pearl in ancient times was a gem of great delight. Pearls had a high value in terms of dollars and cents. It is reported that Cleopatra had two precious pearls, worth $400,000 apiece. Beyond their money value, pearls were desired in themselves. They held a fascination for the Oriental mind. Simply to look at a pearl, to hold it, to turn it through the fingers, was considered a source of great satisfaction. Pearl merchants looked far and wide for new pearls (Lessons from the Parables, 41).
The Theme of the Parable
The Application of the Parable
Denominations and religious groups outside of the church which belongs to Christ might seem to have value, but in the end, they fall short of that which is most important, obedience which leads to salvation (Hebrews 5:9). Many have wasted great amounts of money for fool’s gold and fake pearls, just as many have put all of their spiritual hopes in a religion from which they will gain no spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). We must seek after the true church of Christ, just as the merchant sought after the true costly pearl.
There is value in seeking for the kingdom. - The merchant took it upon himself to search diligently for the precious pearl. There is no doubt that a merchant on such a search would find pearls of varying degrees, but there was only one pearl which could satisfy his desire. He would continue searching until he found that one precious pearl.
While it is possible for one who is not seeking the kingdom to find it (Matthew 13:34), it is much more likely for one to find the kingdom who has sought after it diligently. Jesus taught the importance of seeking the kingdom of God and the righteousness of God (Matthew 6:33). All of the worries of life can be overcome by recognizing the blessings of placing the kingdom of God first.
Many aver that man cannot seek God, but that it is only God who can seek us. Lockyer states as much in his book, All of the Parables of the Bible (200-201). Using that idea, many twist this parable to fit their Calvinistic bias. While it is true that God sought us first (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:19), mankind is commanded to seek God (Matthew 7:7; Hebrews 11:6). If one does not seek God, he could never be saved by God, nor could he ever be pleasing to God.
There is value in sacrificing for the kingdom. - When the merchant found the precious pearl, he gave up all he had to obtain it. He must have seen enough worth within that pearl to be willing to sacrifice all that he had. The church is an organization of great value, and one should be willing to give up anything to be a part of it (Matthew 16:26). The apostle Paul is a great example of sacrificing for the kingdom. Although he excelled in the Jewish religion far beyond many of his own age (Galatians 1:14), he counted all he gave up as nothing so he could gainhis own age (Galatians 1:14), he counted all he gave up as nothing so he could gain Christ (Ephesians 3:8) .Jesus teaches about some of the things one may have to give up to follow Him. Those who would come after Him must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him (Luke 9:23). One must give up His life for Christ (Luke 9:24; Galatians 2:20). Some might have to give up family (Matthew 10:37). One must be willing to lay himself on the figurative altar as a living sacrifice to follow Him (Romans 12:2). Although great sacrifice is necessary to be a follower of Christ, no price would be too much to pay to be able to take part in the riches of Christ.
There is value in securing a place in the kingdom. - The reason the merchant was willing to give all that he had was because that was what was necessary to secure the precious pearl. It is incumbent upon us to do whatever is necessary to secure a place in the kingdom. If one recognizes the great value of the kingdom of God, no price would be too great to gain and maintain a place within it.
Jesus taught that one must be born of water and the Spirit to enter into the kingdom (John 3:3-5). That was the message which Peter preached to the Pentecostians (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Having believed that Jesus was the Son of God, those present on Pentecost asked what was necessary for them to be back in a right relationship with God. Peter explained to them that it was necessary for them to repent and be baptized. Peter explained that continued spiritual growth was necessary to have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom (2 Peter 1:5-11). Jesus, through the pen of John, explained to the church at Smyrna that continued faithfulness was necessary to maintain their saved state (Revelation 2:10). May we be diligent to recognize the value of the kingdom, sacrifice for the kingdom, and do whatever is necessary to secure a place in the kingdom.