The Pearl of Great Price


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH RC SPROUL

The Pearl of Great Price
========================
Matthew 13:44–46 “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” (vv.
45–46).

Our Savior continues to unfold the “secrets of the kingdom of
heaven” (Matt.
13:11), but He switches gears a bit in today’s passage to
emphasize a truth
about the kingdom other than its slow, pervasive growth
(vv. 31–33) and the
apparent delay of its consummation (vv. 24–30, 36–43).
With the parables of
the hidden treasure (v. 44) and the pearl of great price
(vv. 45–46), Jesus
conveys powerfully the worth of the
kingdom.

Whatever we might say about each parable individually, both
tales indicate the
kingdom is of such inestimable value that those who
understand this truth will
do whatever it takes to possess it. If we know
God’s kingdom in Christ truly,
we will not consider it too costly to sell all
that we have if that is what it
takes to appropriate the kingdom and its
treasure. Commenting on the parable
of the hidden treasure, Matthew Henry
writes of the kingdom: “Those who
discern this treasure in the field, and
value it aright, will never be at ease
until they have made it their own on
any terms.”

Again, Jesus uses illustrations to which His contemporaries
can easily relate.
Given the potential for political instability and
invasions, as well as the
non-existence of safety deposit boxes, ancient Jews
often buried their
valuables. Sometimes these treasures were abandoned, and
finding one that had
been left behind was a once-in-a-lifetime event. That
such a treasure is found
indicates the kingdom’s rarity and therefore, its
preciousness. Pearls were
more highly valued in first-century Palestine than
diamonds are in our
culture. Other biblical passages use pearls to illustrate
all-surpassing worth
(Rev. 21:21), and so Jesus likens the kingdom to a
precious pearl.

These parables teach us primarily how we must value
Jesus’ kingdom. Yet they
also tell us about the people our Redeemer saves. As
with the man in the
field, some “stumble upon” Christ when they are not
looking for Him. Others
travel various spiritual paths for years before
“finding Jesus,” just as the
merchant searches tirelessly for the costliest
pearl. God’s grace calls the
spiritually apathetic as well as those who
believe themselves to be seeking
Him.

Coram deo: Living before the
face of God
========================================
John Calvin says we
need the teaching of today’s passage because ”we are so
captivated by the
allurements of the world, that eternal life fades from our
view; and in
consequence of our carnality, the spiritual graces of God are far
from being
held by us in the estimation which they deserve.” On what do you
place
highest value? Do friends, family, possessions, or anything else take
the
place of God’s kingdom in your heart?

For further
study:

Deuteronomy 5:6–7

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