January 29 I Saturday
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
The Parable of the Pearl is quite similar to the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. The main difference is in the treasure, specified as a pearl. Jesus did not give an explanation, so again, we must tread carefully in our interpretation. As the pearl is the distinguishing feature, it is a key to understanding this parable.
A pearl is the only precious stone that is produced by a living organism. A grain of sand or other irritants gets under the skin of the oyster, hurting and injuring it. The oyster responds by covering the injury with a substance called “nacre,” also known as “mother of pearl.” The oyster pours layer after layer of nacre on the injury until the pearl is formed as a beautiful jewel.
The common interpretation sees Jesus Christ as the pearl of great price, but again, this is a misconception, for no price can be put on Jesus, nor do we have to pay for Him! It is true that to be a disciple of Christ a person must give up everything to Him, but by no stretch of the imagination is that a purchase. We are to give up everything because Christ comes to be everything in us and there must be no competition for His place in our lives. There is no purchase of Christ or of salvation. As in the last parable, we are the treasure and it is Christ who purchases us at great cost to Himself.
The image of the pearl holds a beautiful aspect of the gospel. By our sin, we have offended God, yet we are being changed by the One we have offended into something beautiful. Paul writes, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory…” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is like the formation of a pearl. Our injury of God is the means by which He turns us into something beautiful. The pearl is the response of the injured to the injury done.
Another important distinction from the last parable is that the treasure in the first parable is described generally as hidden treasure, but in the second, it is described specifically as a pearl. If the field is the world, it is true to say Christ died for the whole world and His work has general application to the entire human race. In this parable, however, the merchant finds only one pearl of great value and sells everything he has to buy it. It is wonderfully true that Christ died for the whole world, but it is also true He singles us out individually for the gift of His grace, and draws us to Himself, one by one.
Prayer: Precious Lord, what a beautiful reminder of what the pearl represents. Thank You for the gift of salvation for every single person in this world. May Your Holy Spirit draw them and their lives to become a precious pearl in Your sight.