The Pearl of Great Price
Lesson 18

The kingdom of heaven is such that no one parable could adequately describe it in its many aspects. For this reason, in seeking to overcome the many false expectations that had taken a hold of the minds of His listeners regarding the Messiah and the true nature of His kingdom, Jesus gave a number of parables. These parables, while not directly attacking the false ideas that were commonly held, directed the minds of his hearers to the true nature of both His work and the kingdom of heaven.

Closely related to the parable of the treasure hidden in a field was that of the precious pearl. While the field in the earlier parable represented the Word of God and the treasure the gospel, in this parable of the pearl of great price, Christ is, Himself, the precious pearl.

1. What was Christ’s reception by the vast majority of those professing to await His coming?

John 1:11

Note: Christ was the foundation of the Jewish economy. The whole system of types and symbols was a compacted prophecy of the gospel. However, by the time of Christ’s appearance, the priests who ministered in the temple, as well as those to whom they ministered, had lost sight of the significance of the services that were performed. They no longer looked beyond the symbol to the thing signified and the services had become an end in themselves.

2. In the parable, for what was the merchantman looking?

Matthew 13:45

Note: Not all were found indifferent to the gift of heaven. The merchantman in the parable represents a class who sincerely desire truth. Among the Jews of Christ’s time there were those who found in all the round of ceremonies nothing to meet the wants of the spirit and satisfy the thirst of the soul for that which does not perish. The disciples were among this class. Also, in different nations there were earnest, thoughtful men who sought in literature, science, and the religions of the heathen world, for that which would satisfy the longing of the soul. The wise men who welcomed the Saviour at his birth were of this latter group, as were Cornelius (Acts 10), and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8).

3. What portion of his goods did the merchantman find it necessary to sell in order to obtain the pearl?

Matthew 13:46

Note: In this parable, the pearl is not represented as being a gift which puzzles many. While in one sense the gospel of Christ is a blessing that all may possess regardless of their station in life, in another respect it requires the surrender of all that they have. All that we are, all the talents, along with all the capabilities we possess, are the Lord’s to be used in His service. When we thus give ourselves wholly to Him, then Christ, with all the treasures of heaven, can truly be said to be ours. Though salvation is free, it is obtained by the surrender of all that we have.

4. What must we do in order to someday sit with Christ on His throne?

Revelation 3:21

Note: It is impossible for us, in our own strength, to maintain the conflict. Thus, whatever diverts the mind from God, whatever leads to self-exaltation or to self-dependence, is surely preparing the way for our failing to overcome.

5. Why is it not possible for the natural—unconverted—man to fully appreciate the value of the pearl?

1 Corinthians 2:14

When Christ compared the kingdom of heaven to a pearl of great price, He desired to lead every soul to appreciate that pearl above all else. The possession of the pearl, which means the possession of Christ as a personal Saviour, is a symbol of the highest riches. It is a treasure to be desired above every other.

6. What will Christ one day say to those who professed to be His disciples while failing to overcome?

Matthew 7:23

Note: There are some who are always seeking for the goodly pearl, but who fail to make an entire surrender of their wrong habits. They do not die to self that Christ may live in them. Therefore they do not find the precious pearl. They have not overcome their love for worldly attractions. Almost Christians, but not fully so, they seem near the kingdom of heaven, but yet fail of entering in. Almost, but not wholly saved, means to be not almost, but wholly lost.

7. As a converted man, how did the apostle Paul view those things that once held value for him?

Philippians 3:7

8. What was Christ’s admonition to all who desire to enter heaven?

Luke 13:24

Note: The New International Version puts it this way. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door.” Good purposes are right, but will prove of no avail unless resolutely carried out. Many will go down to ruin while hoping and desiring to overcome their evil propensities. They do not yield the will to God. They do not choose to serve Him. While hoping and desiring to be Christians; they made no earnest effort, therefore they will be weighed in the balances and found wanting.

9. How must we strive in order to receive the crown?

2 Timothy 2:5

Note: Not all who run obtain the prize. Some miss the crown that is to be given at the end of the race. There will be multitudes who run but cannot enter into heaven’s gates; for they failed to strive lawfully. The devils believe that Christ came into this world as man’s Redeemer, that he wrought mighty miracles, that he was one with the Father, that he died a shameful death to save fallen man. The devils believe that he rose from the dead, that he ascended into the heavens, and now sits on the right hand of the Father. They believe that he is coming again with power and great glory, taking vengeance on them that know not God and who obey not the gospel. They believe all that is recorded in the Scriptures, but they have not the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. That faith, and that alone, which cleanses the soul-temple, is the genuine faith.

A Parable with a Double Significance

The parable of the merchantman seeking the goodly pearls applies not only to men seeking the kingdom of heaven, but in a secondary sense, to Christ as seeking His lost inheritance. Christ, the heavenly Merchantman, seeking goodly pearls, saw in lost mankind the pearl of great price, for which He was willing to sacrifice all in order to obtain.

10. What sacrifice was made in order to obtain our redemption?

John 3:16

Note: In giving Christ, God revealed the value that heaven places on the human soul.

11. What are we to be to Christ?

Zechariah 9:16

Note: Collecting all the riches of the universe, Christ laid them down in order to buy the pearl. And, having reclaimed us, He resets us in his own diadem.

And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts,
in that day when I make up my jewels.
Malachi 3:17

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