25th April 2017

A Pearl of Great Value 

“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.”
Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV)

I’ve always been fascinated by how a natural pearl is formed. It is the result of a biological process when a foreign substance slips into an oyster, and irritates it. The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself, eventually forming a pearl. In the parable of the pearl, Jesus uses this jewel that’s found inside a living creature as a teaching aid.

The traditional way of understanding this parable is that Jesus represents the pearl of great value and the church represents the merchant. In this interpretation human beings are pictured as earnestly desiring and diligently seeking salvation, like a merchant looking for fine pearls. Ultimately their efforts were rewarded by finding Christ, the pearl of great price. Having found Him they sell all that they have—in other words, they give up all that this world has to offer and dedicate their life to God.

But there is another way of looking at this parable. That is to view the merchant as representing Jesus seeking human beings, represented by the pearl of great value. After all, we don’t find Jesus, he finds us. God in his grace reaches out to us in Jesus, who gave all He had to purchase us: 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “you were bought at a price…”, as Jesus “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

It’s interesting that Jesus chose the symbol of the pearl for the church. Why not a ruby or a diamond? Is it because the pearl is the only jewel which is the product of living matter? A pearl is something of beauty that develops out of pain and suffering. What an apt description of the church. “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7) Through the pains and irritations of life Jesus is transforming us into pearls of great value. In this way of looking at the parable God sees us of such great value, he was willing to send his son to die for us, to transform us into things of great beauty.

I find it so encouraging, that God would think so highly of his creation.

Father, thank you that Jesus looked for me and that in finding me gave up everything in order to transform me into a jewel of great value. Having been bought at a price, help me to now live for him.

Study by Barry Robinson


About the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God London
Indian YMCA
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Martin Ryan
Phone: 07958 386944
Email:   martin_ryan@wcg.org.uk

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