In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus unveiled things we never would have known about history and the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, the mysteries of God at work in this present age. The Lord accurately foresaw and foretold all that has happened in these twenty centuries since the cross.
Matthew 13:45-46. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46. who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
This goes right along with the parable of the treasure hidden in the field which the man found and hid again and then went and sold all that he had and bought the field. This was Jesus.
He is the sower who went out to sow. He is the one who scattered the sons of the kingdom throughout the world. He planted the mustard seed in the field. In all these parables He is the one who is active in this present age. Jesus is the merchant seeking a fine pearl.
The disciples understood the symbols our Lord is using here: A merchant seeking pearls finds one of great value. He has to sell all that he has to buy it. This is the same kind of activity as in the parable of the treasure hidden in the field of humanity. We saw that the treasure is the nation Israel, and until Israel comes into a right relationship with its Messiah and Lord, Israel will not come into its own. The Lord Jesus came and gave all that he had and bought the field. We saw that giving all that He had is a picture of the cross of our Lord.
He gave all that he had, literally, to purchase the field containing that treasure.
Now we come to another aspect of the work of the cross. There is another treasure God values in this world and it is typified by the pearl of great price, and that pearl is the church.
When our Lord came to this world He saw the church as God sees it. God sees it as already complete and worth very much, so He gave all that He had to obtain it.
In the parable, the merchant is the Lord Jesus. The pearl of great price is the church which is made up of all the true believers in Christ.
At Calvary, Christ sold all that He had to buy this special pearl. A pearl is formed inside an oyster through suffering caused by irritation. The church was formed through the piercing and wounding of the body of the Savior.
A pearl comes from an oyster in the sea. The church, the Gentile bride of Christ, comes largely from the nations which are often referred to in scripture as “the sea.” There are converted Israelites in the church, but the church is mainly made up of believing Gentiles.
The Lord chose the pearl as the symbol of the church and not some jewel. The pearl is the only gem that is the product of living matter and that continues to grow in size and beauty.
A pearl is formed in an oyster in response to something which causes it injury. A little particle of some foreign substance gets inside the shell of the oyster and constantly irritates it. The oyster has no way of eliminating the irritation except to transform that into something that is not injurious to it. What a beautiful symbol for the church that our Lord has chosen here!
Considered the implications of the phrase: "he gave all that he had and bought it."
Redeeming mankind is what our Lord came to do, and, in order to accomplish it, He gave His life. I wonder if any of us fully grasp the significance of that. Many have tried to think through the sacrifice of Jesus and the significance of the cross on the physical level, but we have not even remotely touched the depth of the emotional experience of the Lord Jesus when He entered into the human family, became one with us, and on the cross identified Himself with our sin and shame and sorrow. There is also the depth of the hurt in the heart of God as Jesus fully identifies with us to extend His forgiveness to us.
The cross is God's answer to the hurt that humanity has caused and God is the only One who can heal that human hurt. God saw all the agony and misery of our struggle and He wanted to do something about that. In order to redeem us, in order to form the pearl which He wants and loves and cherishes, He gave all that He had. That means He took our place of sorrow and shame and darkness, and became what we are.
He felt the condemnation of a righteous God. He gave all that He had in order that He might be able to say, "I know just how you feel. I've been right there. I know exactly what you are going through.”
Could there be a more perfect symbol of the redeemed than that of a pearl? When something hurts an oyster, the oyster's response is to transform that object into a beautiful jewel. That is Christianity. That is what our Lord has done, transformed the hurtful thing into something of beauty. He reached out to heal the hurt in the human heart by giving all that He had. And that is the action of love.
Our Lord is making Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. That is what the pearl is being formed for. The Lord is working out all the defects in His church, healing all the hurt and the sorrow, and bringing about a church without spot or blemish, a beautiful pearl which will be the manifestation of the glory of God throughout eternity.
Ephesians 2:4-9. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
The world has no understanding of God's purposes. God sees history differently than man. What we see are records of civilizations and discoveries and such but those are only the very minor things. God looks at history and sees the human hurt and heartache and pain and anguish. He sees the healing of love and the understanding of grace. And He sees a new thing being formed, a magnificent pearl in the heavenly places as a testimony to the greatness and glory of our God through the ages and throughout all eternity. That is the pearl that the Merchant, Jesus Christ, bought with such a great price, His life.