“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. – (Mat 13:44-46 ESV)
Some of the parables are clear, but others are clearly mysterious. The most troubling has got to be the Parable of the Unjust Steward — I’ll attempt that one another day. It’s these enigmatic parables that can be taken one way or another, but Jesus had a single thought in mind when He delivered them to us — and sometimes the explanation is not recorded. Let’s consider a different explanation of the Parable of the Pearl.
The pearl is the only “gemstone” that is grown inside an organism. You don’t mine for them. You shuck ’em. Consider what a nasty critter makes that beautiful pearl. Consider the natural process which we understand — and apply that to the supernatural message which the Lord intends.
Pearls are the result of a biological process — the oyster’s way of protecting itself from foreign substances. The critter responds to a source of irritation that has slipped inside its guts and started to cause damage.
The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. The mantle covers the irritant with layers of the same “nacre” substance that is used to create the shell and this eventually forms a pearl.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
Let me suggest to you that the Pearl mentioned in this parable is not referring to anything Heavenly as is a common mistake in the church ever since the gnostic “Gospel of Thomas” lead us down that path of misunderstanding. No, the Pearl is parallel to the Church. And the merchant of the parable is symbolic of the Lord. Isn’t He the rich man who has given up everything in order to buy us out of this doomed world? You and I have NOTHING with which to purchase some part of Heaven. The natural man has NO DESIRE for any part of Heaven, but is born naturally opposed to all things that are godly/holy. Everyone enjoys natural human “virtue”, but we are all naturally scared to death (literally) of God’s Virtue. As people who have “blown it” in various ways, we are naturally more comfortable avoiding a God who (1) knows everything about us and (2) will never permit anything imperfect to fully enter His presence. His Presence is a “consuming fire“. Thankfully, the legal caveat against double jeopardy defends a person like myself. Yes, the penalty which my offenses have required of God’s justice has be Paid by the only Person who has lived a full and yet untainted human Life. Praise is due Him! The ONLY Sin which cannot be forgiven is your refusal to accept God’s deal: a life for a life. Because of this Person’s obedience to all of the Father’s requirements (despite all of Satan’s temptations), Yeshua’s perfect Life became infinitely valuable in God’s economy; thus, the Life of Messiah is able to ransom ALL who call on Him. His Hebrew name means “the Salvation of God”! He is.
Like a pearl, the Church is an irritant inside this world which is opposed to God. The world is one big old nasty oyster — unclean and disgusting.
The oyster-World has generated an ugly shell that resists the advances of the Lord — he is walled out. Yet, He has embedded a perennial source of irritation inside the oyster-World through the Spirit, and the World is walling that off, too. Inside this oyster-World, the Church is being made into a beautiful gemstone through the ugly process of discrimination and marginalization that we will always endure. The Lord has paid everything to obtain us.
It takes years to grow a pearl. It takes a few millenia to grow the Church.
YHVH does not want just a Caucasian church or a Southern Baptist church, but a diverse and complex Church of every ethnicity and time.
There must be those who have experienced the goodness of the Lord through terrible hardship and loss in this World.
There must be those who have experienced unhampered success, who have known the thrill of doing great deeds in times of peace and security. There must be those who have experienced the thrills of the lion’s den and the firing squad. It is a wild process, and there is no way to avoid it. We are stuck in this oyster-World, being made into something beautiful despite all outward appearances.