Matt 13,45-46: “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.
Like so many other parables of Jesus, this one has more than one meaning. The pearl, in one sense, represents Jesus Christ. But in another sense, it represents us.
The First Meaning of the Parable
The Pearl and Its Value
Jesus Himself is the pearl of great price. ... The glory of the attributes of God is expressed in his character ... The righteousness of Christ, as a pure, white pearl, has no defect, no stain. No work of man can improve the great and precious gift of God. It is without a flaw. (COL 115)
Col 2,3: in whom [Jesus] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
1 Peter 1,18-19: knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
All that can satisfy the needs and longings of the human soul, for this world and for the world to come, is found in Christ. (COL 115)
Heb 5,8-9: 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,
A beautiful and priceless pearl is formed when a grain of sand irritates the oyster and causes it to secrete calcium carbonate. Thus the pearl is formed through much pain and suffering. Likewise, Jesus, by what he suffered, developed a priceless character which He will impute to those who are willing to surrender all to Him.
Identifying the Merchant
The merchantman in the parable represents a class who were sincerely desiring truth. In different nations there were earnest and thoughtful men who had sought in literature and science and the religions of the heathen world for that which they could receive as the soul’s treasure. Among the Jews there were those who were seeking for that which they had not. Dissatisfied with a formal religion, they longed for that which was spiritual and uplifting. Christ’s chosen disciples belonged to the latter class, Cornelius and the Ethiopian eunuch to the former. They had been longing and praying for light from heaven; and when Christ was revealed to them, they received Him with gladness. (COL 116)
The Pearl’s Price
The merchantman “went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Mt. 13:46)
There are some who seem to be always seeking for the heavenly pearl. But they do not make an entire surrender of their wrong habits. They do not die to self that Christ may live in them. ... Almost Christians, yet not fully Christians, they seem near to the kingdom of heaven, but they cannot enter there. Almost but not wholly saved, means to be not almost but wholly lost.” (COL 118)
The gospel of Christ is a blessing that all may possess. The poorest are as well able as the richest to purchase salvation; for no amount of worldly wealth can secure it. It is obtained by willing obedience, by giving ourselves to Christ as His own purchased possession. (COL 117)
“He is a gift, but only to those who give themselves, soul, body, and spirit to Him without reserve ... All that we are, all the talents and capabilities we possess, are the Lords, to be consecrated to His service.” (COL 116)
Mark 10,21: And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Luke 14,33: So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
Phil 3,8: Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Mark 10,29: Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,
Matt 10,37: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Jesus was not instructing us to get rid of our possessions, friends and relatives, that is, unless these stand between us and Jesus. Our Lord was teaching that all things must be kept in their proper perspective: Jesus must be first and all other things must be last. The teaching of Jesus has to do with the way in which we order our priorities: Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of our relationship with Jesus. The Master expressed it this way: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matt 6,33) Nothing we have must be allowed to occupy the primary place in our lives. Only Jesus deserves that place.
What’s In It For Us?
When we thus give ourselves wholly to Him, Christ, with all the treasures of heaven, gives Himself to us. We obtain the pearl of great price. (COL 116)
Mark 10,29-30: Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
Rom 8,32: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
The Second Meaning of the Parable
Christ, the heavenly merchantman seeking goodly pearls, saw in lost humanity the pearl of great price. In man, defiled and ruined by sin, He saw the possibilities of redemption. (COL 118)
God looked upon humanity; not as vile and worthless; He looked upon it in Christ, saw it as it might become through redeeming love. He collected all the riches of the universe, and laid them down in order to buy the pearl. And Jesus, having found it, resets it in His own diadem. (COL 118)
Rev 7,14: I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Acts 14,22: strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
Rev 21,21: And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.