Pearl of Great Price (and other parables)

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.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.

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2 Responses to Pearl of Great Price (and other parables)

  1. Peonicus says:

    It seems to me that the pearl of great price is to know Christ. “And this is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” The reason we have to give everything up is because of the commandment that Thou shalt have no other gods before me. We can’t have anything else in the world matter to us. I don’t think it’s a literal “sell everything to get the pearl”; honestly, what could we sell that would matter? The only thing we truly have to give is our broken spirit and contrite heart. Selling our worldly possessions would be simply giving back to God what he gave us in the first place. No, I think there’s nothing short of a complete divestment of all our worldly preoccupations that will get us the pearl.

  2. David says:

    I like the way you said that, “nothing short of a complete divestment of all our worldly preoccupations that will get us the pearl.” I would only change, “we can’t have anything else in the world matter to us,” to say, “we can’t have anything else in the world matter to us more than our Savior.”

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