“JESUS, THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE”
1. This evening I will preach on the parable of the pearl of great price. Please turn to Matthew 13.45-46. When you find those two verses, please stand for the reading of God’s Word:
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
2. A few comments to establish the proper context in which this parable should be considered, in which it is best understood and applied.
1A. First, THE COVENANTS
You might ask yourself what covenants have to do with a parable. Understand that everything that has to do with the dealings of God with His Son, and between God and the Jewish people, have to do with God’s covenants, or, to put it in modern terminology, God’s formal promises, God’s contractual obligations.
There are two kinds of covenants that God made with His chosen people. The conditional covenant, that promises blessings from God as a response to the obedience of God’s people, is called the Mosaic Covenant, and states the terms under which the Law of Moses held sway over the daily lives of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. But centuries before and after that conditional covenant, that conditional promise made by God, there were unconditional covenants that God made to establish the framework for all that God was going to do in His dealings with mankind.
1B. First, there is what is called the Adamic Covenant.
Found in Genesis 3.14-19, this is God’s promise to someday provide a virgin born Redeemer into the world to save some sinners from the devastating consequences of Adam’s sin.
2B. Next, there is what is called the Abrahamic Covenant.
First stated in Genesis 12.1-3, and then restated several times by God to Abraham, and then to his son Isaac and to Isaac’s son Jacob, the Abrahamic Covenant is the overarching guideline by which God promised to bring redemption from Adam’s fall through the Jewish people. A broadly stated and general covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant is clarified by three other covenants.
3B. The first covenant to clarify the Abrahamic Covenant is called the Palestinian Covenant.
Found in Deuteronomy 30.1-10, the Palestinian Covenant is the specific promise of God to provide for His chosen nation, Israel, a perpetual land upon which their kingdom would be situated.
4B. After the Palestinian Covenant came the Davidic Covenant.
This covenant is found in Second Samuel 7, and specified that the coming Redeemer Who was mentioned all the way back in the Adamic Covenant would be a direct lineal descendant of Israel’s king David.
5B. Finally, there was given the New Covenant, so designated because it deals with God’s promise of a new heart.
1C. Found in Jeremiah 31.31-34, this is the covenant whereby God promises to work a miracle in a sinner’s heart. This is also the covenant the Lord Jesus Christ referred to when dealing with Nicodemus about being born again, in John chapter 3.
2C. To recap: The promise of a Redeemer was given to Adam. That the Messiah-Savior would be Jewish was promised by the Abrahamic Covenant. That He would be a king and would be of the house and lineage of David was promised by the Davidic Covenant. That He would preside over an earthly kingdom was promised by the Palestinian Covenant. And that He would prepare sinners to be citizens in His kingdom by giving them new hearts was promised by the New Covenant.
2A. Which Brings Us To A Brief Consideration Of THE KINGDOM
1B. In the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, every reference to the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God is a reference of some kind to what we will call the millennial kingdom.
1C. When it is termed “the kingdom of heaven,” the place from which the kingdom originates is being pointed out. It is a kingdom whose king and subjects will come down from heaven.
2C. When it is termed “the kingdom of God,” the focus is put on God as the source and authority by which all things related to the kingdom are advanced and sanctioned.
3C. When I say “millennial kingdom,” it is because this kingdom will be set up on earth at the second coming of Christ and will exist here on earth for the one thousand years immediately preceding the consummation of all things and the ushering in of the eternal state.
2B. So you see, the covenants provide the guidelines whose fulfillments will lead to the establishing of the millennial kingdom, with the Lord Jesus Christ as the king of that kingdom.
3B. But what has this got to do with the parables? Listen as I read from Matthew 13.
1C. From the parable of the sower, Jesus said, in Matthew 13.18-19, “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not.”
2C. From the parable of the wheat and tares, Jesus said, in Matthew 13.24, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.”
3C. From the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus said, in Matthew 13.31, “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed.”
4C. From the parable of the leaven, Jesus said, in Matthew 13.33, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven.”
5C. From the parable of the hidden treasure, Jesus said, in Matthew 13.44, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field.”
6C. So you see, these parables have much to do with some aspect of the kingdom. But the kingdom
itself is in turn related to God’s covenants. So that’s why I started with covenants, went to the kingdom, and then showed that the subject of many parables is the kingdom, including the one this evening’s sermon is based on.
7C. We learn much about the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, Christ’s millennial kingdom, from these parables; chiefly, about how to become a citizen of the kingdom. In short, these parables most frequently deal with some aspect of a sinner getting saved.
3A. But What Are THE PARABLES?
1B. The word “parable” comes from a Greek compound word that refers to throwing something down beside something else. So a parable is a method of teaching, a brief verbal illustration that is thrown down for the purpose of drawing a comparison. That is, a parable is stated in such a way as to highlight a timeless principle that will shed light on something pertinent or something important to the listeners.
2B. There are some interesting characteristics about parables that are worth noting to save yourself a great deal of trouble when seeking to understand their meanings:
1C. First, parables always illustrate principles using the ordinary details of life in an anonymous way. So, if you read a passage that features a talking vine, you’re not reading a parable. And if you are reading a passage in which someone’s name is mentioned, you are not reading a parable.
2C. Second, the very nature of parables is to illustrate or highlight a single principle. For that reason, anyone seeking to build a whole set of doctrines from one parable is doomed to error.
1D. Don’t try to get more truth out of a parable than was put into a parable. When Jesus taught in parables He taught with a form of communication that was already developed in His day to communicate one principle, or one thought, or one idea.
2D. And there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that the Savior altered that form of communication. Rather, He simply used what was already in use by others.
3D. Another form of communication, the allegory, was used to communicate many truthful facts by way of illustration, but not so with parables. So, with parables we need to keep things very simple.
3C. Third, in English we tend to use the word “parable” in a much narrower sense than the Greek word was used for in the New Testament. So, try not to force your English understanding of this type of communication onto the Bible. It will only cause confusion and misinterpretation.
4A. Before My Sermon, Let’s Again Look At THIS PARABLE
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Five things to leave you with before we stand to sing, that I think will greatly aid your understanding of this parable, before this evening’s sermon.
1B. First, there is the phrase “the kingdom of heaven.”
1C. You already know that this phrase refers in some way to the millennial kingdom, the kingdom that will be established by the Savior at the time of His second coming.
2C. But what part of that large subject does this parable deal with? It doesn’t refer to establishing the kingdom, since this is not a parable about prophecy. And it’s not about kingdom rule, since there is no mention of kings or anything like that.
3C. Like several other parables in this 13th chapter of Matthew, this parable has to do with how a person becomes a proper subject of the kingdom. In other words, this parable has something to do with conversion, with being born again.
2B. Next, there is the merchant man.
1C. Who is this merchant man? Let’s not make too much of the occupation of the man here, except to say that his business is to advance his cause, to secure his own interest.
2C. A merchant man is a businessman whose efforts are directed at securing for himself the most benefits and blessings he can manage.
3C. But who is the merchant man? Is he a figurative representation of Christ? No. The merchant man is you, my friend. You are the person who is engaged, very properly I might add, in securing benefits for yourself. The merchant man who does not secure benefits for himself is a fool.
3B. Which very naturally leads to the goodly pearls.
1C. This “merchant man,” which is you, is actively engaged in “seeking goodly pearls.” That is, he is actively engaged in looking for personal blessings and benefits of various kinds.
2C. Notice that there is no criticism of this activity. It is neither good nor evil, but is simply what each and every human being, to one degree or another, does.
3C. When you go to school are you not seeking goodly pearls? When you work at your job are you not seeking goodly pearls? When you invest money in the hopes of acquiring a return are you not seeking goodly pearls? When you court someone with an eye toward marriage are you not seeking goodly pearls?
4C. And is not the same thing true when you come to Church? You are understandably seeking goodly pearls here at Church, either by complying with your mother’s wishes or by anticipating learning a truth from God’s Word. The goodly pearls, then, represent blessings and benefits.
4B. What, then, is the one pearl of great price?
The pearl of great price is, without a doubt, the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. He is the crown jewel of heaven and that which is most appropriately sought after by men and women who are wise and who are interested in obtaining the most and the greatest of blessings and benefits for themselves.
5B. Finally, we see that the merchant man in this parable went and sold and bought.
1C. I told you that parables have to do with Christ’s kingdom. But what part, what aspect, of Christ’s kingdom? This parable deals with the sinner striving, the lost man diligently seeking, the unbeliever who is honestly inquiring after the Savior he wants for his own.
2C. Just like the parable that comes just before, wherein Jesus said “and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field,” the unconverted man is only too happy to do anything, pay any price, surmount any obstacle, to obtain his conversion.
3C. When once you see how precious the Savior is, how great is His value to you, of course you will then go, and sell all that you have, and purchase that which is priceless.
1. So, remembering that parables are best understood to be basic and straightforward presentations of a single profound truth, let’s prepare to sing by keeping two things in mind:
2. First, the Lord Jesus Christ, the pearl of great price, is profoundly valuable to any soul who possesses Him. There is no other benefit and no other blessing which approaches His worth to each and every soul.
3. And second, there is no price too high to obtain this pearl of great price. What are you willing to do? Where are you willing to go? What effort will you put forth? What obstacles will stop you? What distractions will succeed in turning you aside from your single goal of obtaining the pearl of great price?
4. So, this parable is about striving to enter in at the strait gate, diligently seeking the Lord while He may be found, pressing to enter the kingdom, exerting yourself until you lay hold of Christ by faith.
5. But the Lord Jesus Christ uses this parable to illustrate striving to salvation from a different perspective. With this parable He shows what kind of a treasure He is, and just what a person ought to be willing to do to obtain Him.
6. Please stand now, and Gary Isenberger will come and lead us in a song before my sermon.
1. One of the great errors that people make when it comes to acquiring Bible facts and information is focusing on those facts and information instead of using those facts and information to do what God wants you to do.
2. I talked to you a bit about covenants, about the kingdom, and about parables. And I hope that background information will be beneficial in helping you to understand some important texts in God’s Word.
3. But the real reason for your understanding of covenants, of the kingdom, and of parables, is so you will see how profoundly important it is for you to do whatever it takes to come to Christ.
4. You see, some of you believe that I must put forth great effort to reach you with the Gospel, and you are right. But God’s Word also teaches that you, too, are obligated to put forth great effort to seek the salvation of your own wretched soul.
5. Think about this, my friend: Six thousand years ago God made a promise to send a Redeemer, Who would save some sinners from the consequences of Adam’s fall into sin.
6. Four thousand years ago God made a promise that showed from what people He would send this Redeemer. Three thousand years ago He made yet another promise showing from what family the Savior would come.
7. Intertwined in all of this was the unfolding of a plan to establish a kingdom in which the Ruler would be Hs only begotten Son, and the subjects would be sinners who had experienced something call the new birth, in which their sins are forgiven and they are given a new heart, in fulfillment of yet another covenant promise made 2,600 years ago.
8. How important is it to you that you receive the benefits of promises made as long as 6000 years ago, that will result in your sins being forgiven, which will make you God’s child, and will result in a place being prepared for you in heaven when you die? Is such a salvation worth something to you?
9. Like the merchant man in the parable, you spend your entire life seeking the goodly pearls of a bigger television set, a nicer place to live, a faster car, a better education, freedom from personal debt and obligation, a better family life, and perhaps even a trimmer and more healthy body.
10. Depending on what you personally like, you will seek here and seek there, search here and search there, put forth this effort and put forth that effort. With some of you the effort is expended out and about, while with others of you the effort is expended to not expend effort. You work hard to not work hard, and exert yourself so that you will not have to exert yourself.
11. But what if, while you are shuffling about for this and that and the other thing of life that will benefit you and bless you, you stumble across the greatest benefit that can possibly be imagined? What if you just happen to come upon the ultimate personal blessing, that is infinitely above and beyond any other conceivable blessing? What if you “accidentally” come across the one pearl of great price in your searchings for goodly pearls?
12. That is what I want to talk to you about for the next few minutes. Because by being here this evening, whether you came in here looking for this kind of a blessing or you just happened to be here because of personal habit and routine, you have now found the one pearl of great price, the Lord Jesus Christ.
13. Three considerations and we are finished for the evening.
1A. First, YOUR VISION OF HIM
1B. As a merchant seeking goodly pearls, lovely pearls, beautiful pearls, pearls that would personally benefit you and give you delight and joy, would you even recognize the one pearl of great price? Would you be able to pick Him out from among the rocks and pebbles?
2B. You may think my question is ridiculous, but the world is full of people who are looking for benefits and blessings, and who pass them right by because they don’t recognize them for what they truly and obviously are. The Crown Jewel of heaven walked among men for more than thirty years, and most men who were looking for diamonds and rubies and emeralds completely passed by the One Whose glory caused their eyes to squint for its brightness.
3B. What is your vision of the one pearl of great price? Like the merchant man in our parable who saw Him, do you see Him? What do you see when you see Him? Do you not see that He is one, which is to say that He is unique, unlike any other? Do you not see that He is a pearl, showing that He is to you what He is to you as the result of suffering. Then, do you not see that being a pearl He is beautiful, to be looked upon with admiration and wonder?
4B. The vast majority of merchant men who are seeking goodly pearls overlook this one pearl of great price. They want blessings, while overlooking the ultimate blessing. They want benefit, while moving right past the ultimate benefit. A good question for this evening is, “Are you like all the others who are going to Hell, or are you somehow different than they are?”
2A. Second, YOUR VALUE OF HIM
When you consider Him, what do you think of Him? How highly do you esteem Him? What is your personal valuation of Him? When you consider His worth to you as an individual, what things do you consider? May I remind you of some things in an effort to show you what a grand prize for possession the Lord Jesus Christ, this one pearl of great price, really is?
1B. He’s the One Who walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden before Adam’s great fall into sin. He’s the One predicted by God in the Adamic Covenant. And was it not this same Jesus Who is pictured by Noah’s Ark, saving those who enter in from God’s wrath poured out on those below who did not enter in?
2B. When Abraham believed and it was counted to him for righteousness, which is to say when he got saved, it was predicated on what this Jesus would do on Calvary’s cross 2000 years later. And when Abraham was about to slay his son Isaac on Mount Moriah at God’s command, but instead was told to substitute a ram caught in a nearby thicket of thorns . . . that ram which died in Isaac’s place was a picture of my Lord Jesus Christ, Who died a substitutionary death for the sins of mankind.
3B. When Jacob had a dream of a ladder reaching to heaven, with angels ascending and descending . . . in John 1.51 the Lord Jesus Christ points out that He is Jacob’s ladder. And, years later, when Jacob was returning to his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham, with his family, the man who wrestled with him in the night, who changed his name to Israel, and who saved his wretched soul, was this same Jesus.
4B. When God delivered the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery the night of the passover, by slaying the firstborn in each house that did not have the blood of an innocent lamb painted on the door frames . . . that lamb that was sacrificed was a picture of Jesus Christ, the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.
5B. And when the children of Israel were in the wilderness, the rock from which the water flowed, the manna from heaven, the tabernacle in the wilderness, the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat on top of it, Aaron’s rod that budded, the various sacrifices . . . were all in one way or the other prefigures and illustrations of the precious Savior who would come.
6B. And centuries later, when the three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, it was the Lord Jesus Christ who Nebuchadnezzar saw in the flames with them. He was with them in the fire, just as David recognized that He was with him in the valley of the shadow of death.
7B. You want personal blessings and benefits. You crave material, emotional, familial, relational, financial and spiritual blessings. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But what valuation do you place on the One Who is the ultimate blessing, the One Who is the greatest riches of God’s best blessings, Who is in Himself excellence and majesty, Who is heaven’s greatest treasure?
3A. Finally, YOUR VOYAGE TO HIM
1B. In your casting about for goodly pearls your eyes fall upon the one pearl of great price. That is, you get something akin to a vision of Him. You see who He is. You apprehend what He is. You surmise in some way what He does, what He accomplishes for the sinful soul. And then you begin to value Him, to grasp His importance to you, to recognize what it must mean for a merchant man to find and to possess this one pearl of great price.
2B. The question now is, what will you do? Will you go and sell all that you have and buy this one pearl of great price? Will you do whatever it takes to guarantee possession of the one pearl that is of greatest value to your soul? What obstacles will you overcome, what difficulties are you willing to negotiate, what personal preferences and pleasures are you willing to do without, that you might obtain?
3B. Now, don’t think I am suggesting that you try to work your way to heaven, because that’s the opposite of what the Lord Jesus Christ is teaching here. He is a pearl of such great price that you could not possibly afford to purchase Him for anything close to His real value. Besides, salvation is by grace through faith, and not of works, lest any man should boast.
4B. Isaiah 55.1-2 describes the kind of purchase that Jesus had in mind when He taught this parable. Listen carefully: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?”
5B. What you need to understand from the parable before us is that the Lord Jesus Christ is shown to be of such great and profound value that He is worth the greatest price you can possibly pay. In your strivings, in your diligent seeking of Him, in your efforts to press into the kingdom, you should spare no expense, expend every effort, cast aside any besetting sins that would interfere with you coming to Him for salvation. He is, after all, that valuable. Then, when you come to Him, come to Him by faith alone. Buy Him, but buy Him without price.
1. What would you be willing to pay in order to have the salvation that Jesus Christ gives freely to them who come to Him by faith?
2. Would you be willing to pay what His salvation of your soul is worth? What’s it worth to you to be saved from your sins, to be reconciled to God, to be spared the punishment of eternal Hellfire?
3. Would you be willing to go to Church in order to go to heaven? Would you be willing to read your Bible and pray to get saved? Would you be willing to agonize over your sins and wrestle all night until the breaking of day, as Jacob wrestled?
4. “But pastor, I thought that salvation was a free gift through faith in Christ.” Oh, it is a free gift obtained through faith in Christ. I would never preach or believe to the contrary. But this parable illustrates the lengths to which a sinner, the merchant man, is willing to go to strive to enter in at the strait gate, how much effort he is willing to put forth to press into the kingdom.
5. My friend, if you will not go and sell all that you have that you might buy, it’s because you place no value on the one pearl of great price. And if you place no value on Him you will not come to Him. Put forth whatever effort it takes to simply come to Jesus with childlike faith, or else you will remain lost forever.
6. And you who sit back and expect the Christians around you to pursue you, or you who expect me to ignore all other lost people, even those who have never heard the Gospel, so that you might be flattered by the attention you receive from me, learn a lesson: This parable shows that the salvation of your soul is your responsibility. You are the one who is shown the need to go and sell all that you have that you may buy the pearl of great price.
7. And if you sit back in comfort waiting for me, then it is likely that you will remain lost and will someday go to Hell when you die. For I have shown you already that I love you. I have dealt enough with you personally to show you my concern for you. Now it is time for me to move on and deal with others who are lost, while you sit back and do nothing, waiting for your own death and eternal damnation.
8. Excuse me, but others are just as important as you. And those who have not yet heard the Gospel are perhaps not as resistant to the truth as you are. I hope you get saved, but the responsibility is yours alone.
 Ephesians 2.8-10