“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46, Common English Bible).
I read somewhere years ago about the process an oyster uses to make a pearl. It happens when a grain of sand makes its way into the shell of the oyster and becomes lodged in the muscle of the oyster. Unlike we humans, the oyster has no hands to remove the irritation so it stays there. In order to deal with the irritation the oyster secretes a fluid that hardens around that grain of sand. That now hardened fluid is a pearl.
It is interesting that we place high value on another creatures irritation and suffering. When most of the time we would go out of our way to relieve suffering in an animal, in the case of an oyster, it would seem we might even want to encourage it just so we could harvest something we value.
Of course this parable isn’t really about that. A merchant makes a discovery. As a merchant this is a person who would recognize something of great value. To be brutally honest, I wouldn’t know a valuable pearl from a total fake. But, I am not a merchant who deals in these things.
When the merchant sees the pearl, Jesus says, he went out and sold all he had in order to possess this rare and beautiful pearl. Much like yesterday’s lesson. On a surface level this parable doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Think about it. Would you sell the roof over your head, the food you eat, the support for your family all to own something you could carry around in your pants pocket. And, while I realize this is a different parable, just like the woman who lost the coin (Luke 15:8-10) searched until she found the coin, if we read this parable in a literal way, we would be selling all our stuff in order to buy more valuable stuff.
One might also read this parable as to say the Kingdom of Heaven is up for sale. Jesus says here that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant who finds a pearl. The pearl alludes to the Kingdom of Heaven. The merchant sold everything in order to buy the pearl. Therefore, one could conclude, the Kingdom is for sale.
That is a terrible way to interpret this parable. Just as with the parable of the treasure in the field yesterday, today’s lesson is about one thing, sacrificing all you have in order to possess the greatest treasure, the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom is more valuable than any treasure we might find in a field. It is more valuable than any pearl a merchant might find. And, because of its great value, we should be willing to sacrifice whatever we have in order to possess the Kingdom for ourselves. It is not that we can buy the Kingdom, it is that we sacrifice in order to have it.
What is it you would sacrifice in order to have the Kingdom of Heaven?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved