09.03.22 Mt. 13:45-46
PARABLE OF VALUABLE PEARL
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46 When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.
In this parable, the Kingdom of Heaven is found as the result of a search, whereas in the previous parable (Mt. 13:44) the Kingdom is found by accident. In the Old Testament, Israel is at times referred to as God’s “treasured possession” and the field is symbolic of the world. But in the New Testament the treasure is God’s people who accepted the words and work of Jesus. Unlike the previous treasure that is reflective of Israel, any connection of the pearls to the Jewish people or Israel is unknown. It may be that since pearls come out of the sea, the imagery is representative of the Gentile nations (Dan. 7:1-2; Rev. 17:1, 15). John wrote that the gates of heaven are made of pearl (Rev. 21:21) indicating of their immense beauty and value. This underscores the value of the treasure that someone searched for in the parable.
The parable does illustrate, however, that common people had knowledge of objects and places far beyond the world in which they lived. Ancient countryside farmers would normally never encounter pearls, yet they were sufficiently aware of their existence that Jesus made reference to them as an ordinary fact. Jerusalem, with its many wealthy citizens, had pearls and other rare and expensive commodities that normally are not considered to have been part of first century Jewish culture. Only some of those living in a “big city could afford a pearl, which is why the Mishnah says that its price increases when it is brought into a city.
“When he found one priceless pearl.” In this short parable, Jesus said that the merchant sold everything that he had to make the purchase, since the pearl was of “great value” or “great price.” In the book of Acts (4:36) is the account of Barnabas who sold property, gave the funds to the apostles, and became a leader in the church. He gave all that he had, including his life.
. Ex. 19:5; Deut. 14:2; Ps. 135:4.
. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. (Video “B”).
. Mishnah, Arakin 6.5.