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.
Let’s look at two brief parables in Matthew 13 about the value of the kingdom of heaven. The parable of the treasure is found in verse 44. Jesus said, “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.” A man was walking through a field, and he stumbled over a piece of treasure that was protruding from the ground. New Testament historian William Barclay wrote that in the ancient world, the land of Palestine was so torn by war that residents would bury their valuable treasure in the ground until the conflict was over. It would be like hiding money under the mattress today.
This man in the parable noticed some treasure in a field. Now, the Jews had a law that was kind of like “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” If you found something, it was yours. But this man did something beyond the law. Even though he could have taken the treasure as his own, he went to the owner of the field and said, “I would like to purchase your property.” The owner apparently named a price, but it was greater than what this man had. So what did he do? He went out and sold everything he had in order to buy that field. So valuable was that treasure he found, he realized he ought to sell everything to obtain it.
Parable number two is about a pearl: “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” (vv. 45-46). In Jesus’s day, pearls were the most valuable of all gems. This man was trained to recognize pearls of great value, and one day he found that perfect pearl. What did he do? Again, he sold all that he had in order to purchase that pearl of great price.
The purpose of these parables is to show us the value of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus was saying, “Heaven is so valuable that you ought to do whatever is necessary to obtain the treasure of eternal life.” In these parables, the man who found treasure hidden in the ground and the man who found the pearl of great value represent lost people, and the treasures they found represent the gospel of salvation that results in eternal life. Jesus was saying, “When you find the gospel, you need to recognize its value and do whatever you need to do to obtain it.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Treasure And The Pearl” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.
William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, vol. 2, New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001), 98-99.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org