Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Pearl of Great Price

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Matthew 13:44

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46
These two parables seem to give Christians the most difficulty in understanding. However, this need not be the case. There are two ways with which to understand these parables. The first way with which we might understand these parables concerns itself with counting the cost of entering the kingdom. In other words, all who would enter the kingdom ought to consider what it will cost them (Luke 14:27-33; 2 Tim. 3:12).

While there is truth to that understanding, is it the best way with which we might understand these parables? No, because it falls drastically short. First, we do not seek after God (Rom. 3:11). Our nature and our natural inclination is to hate God. Second, Jesus is not hidden. The parable does not say that Jesus is a treasure hidden in a field, it says the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. The parable is using a simile for comparison. Third, we have not even remotely come close to giving up all we have for the sake of Christ.

It is generally accepted that, like with prophecy, parables use the same imagery to represent the same things. In other words, in order to understand these parables, all we have to do is look to the other parables that Jesus has already explained. We need to pay attention to the context, to the surrounding passages. You see, in the parable of the sower and the parable of the wheat and tares, Jesus already gives us all the information we need. So what interpretations did Jesus give his parables? The field always represents the world. The man always represents Jesus. The birds always represent the evil ones.

If the field is the world, as would be consistent in all of Jesus' parables, what Christian has ever sold all he/she possesses in order to purchase the world so that he/she might have Christ? None! Few Christians have ever given up everything for the sake of Jesus. The only one who ever purchased the world through redemption was the Lord Jesus. The only One who gave up everything He had was Jesus. He gave up everything He was and had in heaven when He took on human flesh and lived among us. He gave up His own life on a cross for His people, those given to Him from the Father from before the foundations of the world, which were His inheritance.
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28

"Who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." Galatians 1:4

"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Galatians 2:20

"Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." Ephesians 5:2 
Remember, these two parables are telling us what the kingdom of heaven is like. Yes, Jesus and His grace are of infinite value, but that is not the truth that these two parables are conveying. These parables are giving us information about the kingdom of heaven. You know, the kingdom that consists of both genuine and false converts growing up together until the end of the age?

The first of these parables says that "from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Remember, the field is the world. Luke 15:7 says, "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." Luke 15:10 says, "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Jesus gave everything He had, even His own life, for the joy of one repentant sinner. If only one person ever came to Christ, Jesus considered it worth the cost to give up His own life in order to procure the salvation of that individual.

Is Jesus of such value to us that we would be willing to surrender everything we have in order to gain Him (Phil. 3:7-8)?