It alerts us to mistranslations, or possible mistranslations, in the Bible. Also, it gives us great insight into how to properly apply the Word of God in our lives. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told a wonderful parable about the attitude we should all have about the Kingdom of Heaven.
- pearl of great price;
- Weatherford, Texas (Images of America);
- ‘Whiplash’: The Pearl of Great Price?
- Pearl of Great Price – Br. Curtis Almquist.
The Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom that Jesus himself will set up on earth in the future. The book of Revelation tells us that Jesus Christ will come down from heaven to earth, fight the Battle of Armageddon and conquer his enemies, and set up a kingdom in which there will be no war, no hunger, no injustice, and even animals such as the lion and lamb will live together peacefully. To be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven was to be saved.
Worse, not too long after that, plastics and resins were also used to produce very realistic pearl look-alikes. Then finally, the invention of the scuba diving system made getting the real pearls much easier, safer, and more reliable. The result of all this was that pearls, which for millennia had been a mark of high culture, social standing, and financial wealth, were suddenly seemingly being worn by anyone and everyone.
This caused them to be both devalued as symbols of status and wealth, and less attractive. Sure, there are pearls of great value still around, but the desire to own and wear them, and the status they project, are not nearly what they were in years past.
In order to really understand the parable, and why Jesus chose a pearl instead of something else, we need to understand the biblical value of pearls. In the biblical world, the pearl was incredibly expensive. Oysters that produce pearls are found all over the world, in both salt and fresh water, and yet the round, white pearls that have been so prized in history are amazingly rare.
Part of the mystique of pearls in the first century was that, even by the time of the early church, people were not sure where they came from. Expensive pearls that came into the Roman world from the Persian Gulf still today perhaps the most reliable source of natural pearls and from India had traveled far, and anyone who deals in vulnerable and expensive items knows that creating an air of mystery and guarding your sources can create value in the item and also protect your source of supply.
In actuality, although some pearls were discovered in shallow water, most pearls in the ancient world were brought up from the depths of the ocean. In the Persian Gulf region, a fruitful source of pearls in biblical times, they were often found at a depth of about 40 meters almost 45 yards. To get down to the oyster beds, divers held a weight on a rope to make a quick descent to the beds.
The weight was pulled back up to the ship by the rope, while the diver swam back up, having put the oysters he had gathered into a sack he had with him. Until the invention of scuba gear, this diving-with-a-weight method of pearling was the common way of pearling, with only slight improvements over the years, such as hand and foot protection from the sharp oysters, and face masks to enable better vision and protect the eyes.
Needless to say, it was a dangerous way to make a living and a major reason that natural pearls continued to be so expensive until our modern times. When we understand the rarity of a round, white pearl in the biblical world, and understand the mystique that surrounded them as well as the monetary and social value they had, we are in a position to see why Jesus compared gaining the Kingdom of Heaven to finding and buying a pearl of great value.
The pearl of great price was valuable, but nothing is more valuable than salvation and everlasting life. And just as no merchant in the ancient world would hesitate to sell everything else he owned to gain a very valuable pearl, no person should hesitate to make every effort to be saved and be assured of everlasting life.
The kingdom of God is the treasure in the field and the pearl of great value. Or, to put it in more personal terms, Jesus himself is the treasure and the pearl. Knowing him is the thing that surpasses all worth. So if this is the case, will you do whatever it takes to get into the kingdom? Will you give up whatever it costs in order to find Jesus? What if you were suffering from a fatal disease, but someone came along and told you there was a medicine that could cure you completely.
Of course you would. When the benefit is great enough, no price is too high to pay. Notice what he says about the motivation of the characters. In the first story a man finds a treasure hidden in a field. He carefully buries it again so that no one else will find it before he can secure ownership of the field. All of his possessions are as nothing compared to the value of the treasure. His only worry is that the sale of his other property will take too long.
Pearl of Great Price
Or consider the pearl merchant. He has been searching all his life for a gem like the one he has finally found.
- Ice Fishing at the Lake.
- The Pearl of Great Price – Words of Hope;
- Seaside Sleuths #4: The Wolf in Golfers Clothing!
They are moved by joy to give up what they do, because they are getting so much more in return. The gospel is not first and foremost a message of sacrifice and renunciation.
- Pearl of Great Price – Br. Curtis Almquist.
- The Pearl of Great Price – The Bible Study.
- Angels Among Us: Muddy Fork short story.
Whatever it costs you to accept that invitation is more than worth it. Do you remember the rich young ruler?
Chapter 38: The Pearl of Great Price
Go and sell all your possessions, give the money to the poor, and come join me. And the Gospel reports that the man went away sorrowful because he was very rich. But the truly sad thing is that all his possessions were just so much trash compared to the value of knowing Jesus.
This man was right to feel sorrow, because his attachment to his things would rob him of the infinite joy that can only be found by following Jesus Christ. No sacrifice we might be called upon to make in this life can compare with what we will receive — and not just receive in heaven, but already here and now. This is what Jesus promises his disciples. Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now is this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come, eternal life.
Parable of the Pearl
God has a treasure in store for us. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the seashore.