In Sunday School today we were talking about the parables in Matthew 13. After the discussion I got to thinking about the parable of the pearl of great price in particular and about discussions concerning parables in general.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)
Many times I have heard that parable and the discussion always revolves around the idea that we should give everything to obtain such a pearl if we find it. I could hardly argue that this is wrong, but imagine if the pearl did not cost all that the merchant had – would he have sold all to obtain it if he could obtain it for less? What if all that he had were insufficient to obtain the pearl – is he out of luck?
I believe that the savior talked of him giving all that he had because in obtaining the kingdom of heaven we should never feel that it is out of reach. However, if we could obtain heaven without being asked to give up all the comforts of our lives does that make our obtaining it any less sweet? If the pearl cost more than all his goods, would this merchant have found a way to obtain the resources necessary to secure the pearl for himself? I think the real point of the story is that we must be willing to give whatever is required to obtain such a pearl, whether it turns out to be more than we think ourselves capable of giving or less than all that we have.
For me the real lesson was a reminder to look at the parables from an unconventional viewpoint because the beauty of parables is that they have so many layers of meaning waiting to be uncovered.