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Parable of the Pearl

Matthew 13:45-46



I have a missionary friend in China, and cannot speak his name on the recording, because it could endanger his life, and the authorities there have caught him before, deported him, and warned him that next time he would NOT be returned, and WOULD regret it.  I am amazed at his courage and tenacity in smuggling Bibles to underground churches.  Well, he not only takes things into the country, but has been known to return with pearls...large ones, very cheap.  Is it legal?  More legal than the Bibles he takes into the country!  He gave Kimberly a beautiful string of pearls, brought to the surface by hand by Chinese divers.  These aren't 'mini pearls', they are good sized!  Faux pearls would look the same, but these are special because they are real, valuable, and, I!  Now your eyes are big and you are listening better than ever, and this is the most excited some ladies have ever been about a sermon!


This parable is going to sound a whole lot like the previous one we just studied on the hidden treasure, but with a great twist that I know will be a blessing to you.


Common misinterpretation:  The Pearl represents Jesus Christ, and the man is a seeking sinner who gives all he has to obtain salvation.  He turned his back on all he had to achieve heaven.


Much like the previous parable of the hidden treasure, it is not a good idea to just naturally read a parable at face value and apply common logic to it. 


Reasons to reject this interpretation:

  • Sinners aren’t seeking Jesus, but rather, Jesus is seeking sinners. 

It would be nice if the lost were busting down our doors trying to find out how to be saved, but they are not.  What are commonly known as ‘seekers’ today are most often seeking help, seeking social contact, and seldom are they seeking truth.  This is not to say that mankind isn’t looking for something real, but they aren’t looking in Jesus’ direction, nor the church’s. 


The Bible says we are dead in trespasses and sins…and a dead man cannot seek anything.  If you feel as though you were seeking the Lord, I don’t debate your feeling, but I’d say that was the Holy Spirit drawing you, calling you, wooing you to Him!


It’s the difference between Christianity and religion.  Religion is man trying to reach up to God, but Christianity is God reaching down to man.

Romans 3:11
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

  • The merchant-man bought the pearl.

Salvation is not of works, and cannot be bought, but it is the gift of God!

  • He sold all he had to obtain it.

True discipleship, indeed, asks us to give up things and put on Christ, but that is sanctification, not salvation.

What does a sinner have that is valuable enough that he can sell it and have enough to buy Christ?


If even our righteousness [goodness] is filthy rags before God, then we have nothing to merit salvation.


The true interpretation is that the merchant man is Christ, and we, the church are that pearl which He purchases at great cost…He gave His all!  He seeks and saves that which was lost!


The special twist is the illustration of the pearl:


The pearl is a perfect picture of the church in that a pearl is one…a picture of unity.  It is formed miraculously, and for the purpose of being presented back to its maker.  Its creator is the owner, just as the church was founded by Christ and is His bride!



I.      How the pearl was wrought.  [came into existence]


There is very little to a pearl.  Crush it and all you’ll have is lime…ordinary chalk.  The value of the pearl is how it comes into existence.  It is not carved or cut like a diamond or ruby…matter of fact, if you cut a pearl it becomes worthless.


It is created in the heart of a living oyster, in the deep dark of the sea, as an irritant such as a grain of sand is introduced inside the shell.  It begins to cut and dig in to the tender inner tissues of the oyster, and it is then that it secretes a substance called Nacre, aka Mother of Pearl.  Layer upon layer is formed around that grain of sand until it is a beautiful pearl.


A pearl is formed by accretion--not mechanically, but vitally, just as God gives the church new life as souls are saved!  "Upon this rock I have built My Pearl!"


Think about it:  the pearl is the oyster’s answer to that which wounded it.  The pearl owes its existence to the oyster’s willingness to cover that which had cut it.


What a beautiful picture of salvation in Christ!  Our part was the cutting, and God’s part was the covering.


Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world, but then sin entered as an intrusion…an invader to God’s perfect world.  Adam had an amazing intellect…he named all 15,000 plus species of animals, and yet there were 6 words Adam didn’t know:


Death—there was no such thing until sin brought it.

Nakedness—they were not ashamed until sin came.

Curse—sin brought a curse to the world.

Sorrow—sin brought this in childbirth and everything else that follows childbirth during life.

Thorns—the roses had no thorns until that day.

Sweat—he had to earn his way thru life.


Man’s sin was an intrusion that cut the heart of God.  And like that grain of sand, we were trapped, held captive with no way of escape on our own.  But while ours was the cutting, God’s was the covering. [animal skins]


Thank God that Calvary covers it all!  The cross was God’s answer to man’s sin!  The innocent died for the guilty—both in the garden to cover man’s body and on the cross to cover man’s sin.


Ill.—the Ark of the Covenant is a beautiful picture of this:

There were 3 items inside the ark:

1.     Aaron’s rod that budded—the event surrounding this was the rebellion of God’s people against the authority of Moses and Aaron.

2.     Jar of manna—Israel complained when they received the manna from heaven… “we loathe this…”  It was rebellion against God’s provision.

3.     10 commandments—2nd set, because Moses broke all 10 commandments [1st set] already!  What was happening at the foot of Mt. Sinai while Moses was receiving the commandments from God?  They were breaking the commandments, having a drunken party.  This was man’s rebellion against God’s commands.

So, inside the ark is man’s rebellion against God’s authority, provision, and commandments.

Now, what was atop the ark?  A gold slab w/ 2 cherubim, and the blood of the sacrifice was placed on that slab, the mercy seat…so now as God looks down upon the symbols of man’s sin and rebellion within the ark, He sees the blood there covering that sin.  That’s right!  God looks at our sins THRU the blood.  He doesn’t even see our sins, He sees the blood, and passes over…only because He first ‘covered over’.


Layer after layer of God’s love was poured out at Calvary in the form of the blood as a covering for our sins!  We have become His pearl of great price!


Revelation 21:21
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl:  

As we walk into that city, we’ll be reminded that we can only enter because we are His pearl of great price!



II.    How the pearl was sought.


The merchant man was seeking, just as Jesus seeks the lost.



A.    Thru the Scriptures.

“Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

        Nobody is saved apart from the Bible.  I’ve seen MY converts and they don’t make it.  No one can truly be persuaded w/out the powerful words of the Book!


        B.    Thru the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has 3 functions:

                1.     Calls.

                2.     Convicts.

                3.     Convinces.


The Spirit arranges circumstances so lost sinners come into contact w/ the gospel.  It is no accident!


The Spirit of God uses the Word of God and makes it cut like the two-edged sword that it is!


Then the Spirit convinces which is closing the deal…bringing us to faith and belief in the truth.


scriptures, spirit...


        C.    Thru the Saints.

…or, the soul winner.  God chooses to use human vessels to carry the truth.  We must use the Scriptures and be indwelt by the Spirit.



III.   How the pearl was bought.


v. 46        Again, this is the language of the cross.  “Jesus paid it all…”

Ephesians 1:14
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

2 Corinthians 8:9
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

1 Corinthians 6:20
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

You are His pearl of great price, buried in a sea of sinfulness, lost, just a grain of sand, and He has poured out Himself upon you until you have become His goodly pearl.


And we need to be shining pearls.  What has tarnished the luster of your Christian life?  Let's go find more irritants for God to cover!

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