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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
Matthew 13:45-46

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.

Merchants during biblical times dealt with pearls at the marketplace, so this merchant knows the value of pearls and wouldn’t be easily fooled or deceived. Some Galileans would gather pearls around the Sea of Galilee, but the most costly pearls came from territories outside of Israel-- in Gentile lands. The finest specimens of the pearl are yielded by the pearl oyster still found in abundance in the Persian Gulf and near the coasts of Ceylon, Java and Sumatra. The oysters grow in clusters on rocks in deep water, and the pearl is found inside the shell, and is the result of a diseased secretion caused by the introduction of foreign bodies, as sand, etc., between the mantle and the shell. They are obtained by divers trained to the business. March or April is the time for pearl fishing. A single shell sometimes yields eight to twelve pearls. Merchants would come and purchase these pearls for a good price.
Jews wouldn’t be interested in purchasing pearls because they came from what the Law considers an unclean species. Leviticus 11:9-12: Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams you may eat any that have fins and scales. But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales--whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water---you are to regard as unclean. And since you are to regard them as unclean, you must not eat their meat; you must regard their carcasses as unclean. Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you. So, a pearl from what the Law considers an unclean species would not be of interest or value to a Jew. But to the Jew in the flesh Jesus they are valuable because they represent His followers. The pearl of great price is Jesus and His Body of believers.
There were no pearls in Solomon’s glorious Temple. Why? Because pearls were produced by an “unclean” creature, and the Pearl of Great Price--Jesus--had not done His atoning work on the cross yet. Those who have Jesus have everything. His value is beyond measure. And our value to Jesus is beyond measure. We must make Him ours…possess Him and establish Him in our hearts through obeying His Word not just hearing it.
This merchant isn’t searching for just any pearl. He is searching for a “goodly” pearl or a pearl of great value. In other words, the best! Jesus is looking for pearls that are faithful and true to Him. He is committed to finding this precious pearl. It is “one single pearl” for which He is searching. This Merchant had a purpose! He also had a high aim! In other words, He has a big vision. He wanted the choice and best pearl. As Jesus is chosen and precious in the Father’s sight, Jesus is seeking a chosen and precious Body of believers who love Him with all of their hearts, minds and strength. The Merchant Jesus will know and appreciate this goodly pearl when He sees it.
The Merchant is undeterred by its price. He sells everything He has and buys it. The Merchant is Jesus. The “one great pearl” is His Body/Bride with Him as the Head. The value of this pearl of great price will be seen and acknowledged by all. The New Jerusalem—the Bride of Christ—will descend from heaven for all to see her glory and beauty.
Discovering the truth of Jesus is the Pearl of greatest value. Pearls are linked together making one necklace or bracelet. The Word of God is also linked together through different passages in order to explore truth and gain the fullness of truth.
There are 12 Great Pearls as the gates in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:21. Each gate was One Pearl with the name of one of the Tribes of Israel over it. Judaism is the gateway to Christianity. The 12 Tribes of Israel represents all of God’s people. All must enter into the Holy New Jerusalem including the Jews through the Pearl of Great Price -- the Body of Christ. There is no other way to the Father except through the Son and His Body.
The treasure of the previous parable was found in the earth. Jesus is our heavenly treasure, and we are His earthly treasure. We are a part of His field But a pearl is found in deep water hidden in a mollusk. The Kingdom of God is also a hidden mystery. We have to seek out the Truth of that Kingdom. It is a spiritual Kingdom which makes it mysterious. The water represents the Anointed Word -- the Word anointed by the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 7:6, Jesus told His disciples not to “throw their pearls to pigs.” These pearls that Jesus is speaking of are spiritual truths. The Kingdom of God is such a precious gem that it is worth searching for. It is the only gem made from a living organism as Christ’s Body is a living organism. Though we may suffer in this life and for the cause of Christ, the ultimate blessings of the Kingdom of God will be worth it.
Jesus is the Anointed Word that came to earth to teach, train and equip His Apostles to begin building His Church. As the Head of His Body, Jesus is this Pearl of Great Price. He died for His Body. We are not our own; we were purchased by a price--a very costly price—the suffering and the blood of Jesus Christ. Christ’s Body is to surround itself with the water of the Anointed Word. They are to leave the shallow water and plunge into the deep water of the Word and let it shape and form them into the glory and beauty of Jesus. The more you obey Jesus and His Word, the greater value you are to Him and His Kingdom. The Father was well-pleased with His Son Jesus because He walked faithfully and obediently to His Father’s Word.
Most pearls are white symbolizing purity. The pearl is the only jewel that comes from a living organism. Christ’s Body is a Body made up of living members. Jesus takes us as earthen vessels and shapes and forms us into the beauty of Himself. Other jewels like diamonds, emeralds, etc. are formed in the earth’s strata. These jewels have to be chiseled, cut and polished to bring out their beauty, but the pearl cannot be improved by man. The pearl is shaped and formed secretly under the cover of the shell of the mollusk. It remains there until it is found and revealed.
How is a pearl formed? The mollusk suffers a wound by a piece of sand that irritates. The mollusk surrounds the irritant with nacre--mother of pearl--slowly and gradually over time. This piece of sand is growing gradually and becoming more glorious and white.They are formed mysteriously and secretly. A great pearl would have caused great suffering to the mollusk over a long period of time. This suffering and irritation develops into a beautiful, white pearl. This pearl is precious and valuable. Christ suffered wounds to save us on the cross. Out of His great suffering an object of beauty is produced--His Body. As this grain of sand becomes covered with a beauty it didn’t originally have and was imputed from the suffering mollusk, Christ came to die for all and imputed His righteousness to us. Jesus doesn’t stop there. He will shape and form His Body into a precious white pearl of great beauty and value for His glory. His Body will also suffer for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. The Kingdom of God is worth seeking, finding and suffering for.
In Revelation 17:4, pearls and precious jewels are mentioned regarding Babylon. Babylon represents the worldly system that will collapse and have no value. In Revelation 18:11, it says that the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore--cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls…etc. Your merchants were the world’s important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. V23
The world system -- the harlot bride--will fall and be in darkness. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. Rev. 18:23
The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. V23 In other words the Word of God will be silent and not heard any more.
In the parable of the treasure, the Man found the treasure, hid it and paid the price for the field in order to gain the treasure. Jesus paid the price for the salvation of the world.
In the parable of the Pearl, the Merchant sought a pearl of great price and then paid the price to purchase it. Out of the world, Jesus is seeking a Pearl of Great Price -- His Body. A pearl is in the water a long time hidden inside the mantle of the oyster. When it is discovered, it is of great value.
The pearl of great price of lowly origin is shaped and formed into a beautiful, glorious thing of value and beauty in a position of dignity, honor and glory. Jesus wants to reshape and re-form us into a thing of beauty—His Bride—who reflects His glory, beauty and light. She will be like her Husband Jesus.

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