I would like to speak with you about a precious pearl, the pearl of great price. Jesus Christ is the greatest, most expensive, most valuable thing in the entire world.
One day Cleopatra was at a place and a person came through selling pearls. These were the two greatest pearls in the world at that time. They were the largest ones and she bought them both. Then she invited Mark Anthony to come down to Egypt and she held a banquet in today's money would cost $400,000 for this one banquet. At the banquet he was seated beside her and she was wearing these pearls on earrings, one from each ear. The pearls were very valuable. In fact each one in today's money would be worth a quarter of a million dollars. That's a lot of money for one pearl.
During the midpoint of the banquet she took one of the pearl earrings off, and that apparently was a sign to the servany. The servant brought her a small container of vinegar and she dropped the pearl into the vinegar and of course it instantly melted. Then she drank the contents. Then she took the other pearl off and another servant came with another little container of vinegar and before she could dropp it in, one of her generals snatched it away from her. Said, "You can't do that. That's such a waste." That's how extravagant she was.
This must've been the type of a pearl that Jesus had in mind here in our parable when Jesus told this story in Matthew 13. A great pearl.
There are many lessons to be learned from this pearl today. We must be willing to sell all we have to purchase the pearl of great price. Now life is short and I want to make a lasting mark on society and I know you do too. You want to do your very best, and don't ever be satisfied with a low outcome of your life. Reach for the stars. Have high goals in your life. Don't just go along every day in the same old doldrums that you did the day before. You kids, you're in school. Get the best grades you can possibly get. Excel, and not just to get an 'a' in your teacher's book but excel to get an 'a' in God's book. Make something out of your life.
Here in this little parable Jesus outlined several secrets of success.
Number one. Have a definite purpose in life. The Greek word for 'merchant' means a traveling wholesaler who is traveling throughout the world to seek the premium products that the world has to offer. To seek the best merchandise to sell. He's looking for the best pearls of value, not because of why he wants them but to have them for his clients.
You know the pearl is valued for its size, its shape and its luster. Those three things make the value of a pearl and so that is what he is looking for. A person without purpose in this life cannot reach happiness. If you're going through life and you say what are you going to do this week, well the same thing I did last week I guess. You've got to have a great purpose in life. Aimlessness produces restlessness and despondency. If you want to be successful you've got to have a goal in your life. The true measure of a man is not how tall he is but how high his ideals are. If you're going to climb you've got to reach for the branches and not the blossoms. I think too many of us are just reaching for the blossoms of life. You reach for the branches and then you can climb higher. Stay on the path that leads to your goal. Following the path of least resistance, which is what oftentimes people do, that's what makes crooked rivers and crooked people. Set a goal in your life. Chart the course and hold yourself to it and you will succeed. Have a purpose. You know having a purpose, God will empower you to fulfill that purpose in your life. God will do that for you.
Did you know that there is enough energy on each acre of land in the United States that when the sun is shining you can melt rocks underneath that soil. You can melt the rocks. So have you ever been walking along and noticed the rocks have melted? No. That energy is there to do it but the energy is not focused on one point. If you focus your powers on one point there is nothing that you can't accomplish with the power of God. You can do it through his power.
The merchant man looked the world over until he found what he was after. Nothing stopped him. He was focused on doing what he was doing.
Number two, in order to be successful in life you have to have high standards. He had the highest standards. The Greek word here indicates that he was seeking goodly pearls. He was seeking the best pearls that money could buy. Seeking the biggest and the best in perfect pearls is good when Jesus is your pearl. You need to seek a relationship with Jesus Christ because successful people have high standards, and the highest standard that you can have is none other than our Savior Jesus.
Number three. If you want to be successful you need to have a sense of value. So many people go out and they say well I bought that I thought was going to be okay, or I married him, or I married her. I thought... Well, you need to have a proper sense of value. You need to have a good judgment and how do you get that. God will give it to you. You need to consult with your partner and God will help you to make proper decisions in life. All too often we conclude that something is valuable simply because so many people are chasing after it to get it. I've got to get me a pair of those boots. I've got to get me one of those electronic devices, because everybody's getting it. I've got to have one. The crowd does not set your value. Your value is set by a high standard. Not the crowd. Keep that in mind. If you follow the crowd their values will become your values.
Now back in 1946 my parents raised chickens. This was to help make the house payments because we didn't have enough money to make the payments. My job back there in Indiana was to haul water to the chickens and to make sure the chickens had enough feed, so before I went to school that's what I did and after school was over, the first thing I did was come home and feed the chickens and refresh their water. We supplemented their food with table scraps. Now you would call it garbage. Today we have garbage disposals. The chickens were our garbage disposal. They composted that stuff and made it into little eggs and people bought them. Those chickens loved those table scraps and I remember so often that I would throw out the scraps. Time after time this happened. A chicken would grab one of those big pieces and go running off and about six others would go following the chicken. They would leave a whole pile right there and go chase after the one that had the scrap. Don't ever have the sense of a chicken. The chicken philosophy of life is to choose failure.
A proper sense of value chooses things, not because of the popularity, but because of true worth. You want to choose something, not because everybody's doing it.
Number four. Have a sacrificial spirit. If you're going to be successful in life you've got to sacrifice a lot of things. You've got to make time in your schedule for what you're doing. You've got to lay everything aside. Cut to the quick. This merchant went home after he saw these pearls and he sold how much of the things that he owned? He sold it all. He sacrificed the whole 9 yards to get what he wanted. You've got to be willing to go to great sacrifices to get what you want.
You know, big pearls are not cheap. The largest pearl in the world is 9.45 inches in diameter. It weighs 14.1 pounds. It was found in 1934 and was found inside of a giant clam and the value today is $60 million. That's quite a thing. A sacrificial spirit means that if you are seeking a true saving relationship with Jesus Christ you are willing to do anything to establish that in your life. You're willing to make time for Bible study by turning off something, shoving aside something that is cluttering up your schedule and having time to pray. Time to have a relationship with God. God's pearl will never cost you less than all you have and you will never hold title to it unless you are willing to give up everything that you have. Why do we hold on so tight to our money? I do not know. Why do we hold on so tight to this world's goods? Why do we give so little of our means when He gave so largely of His?
What I would like for you to do is open your Bible to Matthew 13:45,46. I would like for us to have a paradigm shift in our understanding. I want us to go back to the beginning. Matthew 13:45 says the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for pearls. This does not say the kingdom of heaven is like a pearl. This says the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant. That's different. That's entirely different than what we've been preaching about this whole time. What I want you to see is that this parable has a dual application and this is brought out in Christ's Object Lessons. Sister White says this. Not just me. In this parable we said Jesus is the pearl. Now I want you to think of Jesus as the merchant. Okay? He's the merchant and as we look at it in this way the parable is not a picture of a sinner seeking Christ. It is a picture of Christ seeking the sinner. Because actually, do we go out and seek God? Remember Romans 3:11. There is none that seeketh after God, no not one. And Luke 19:10 says the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost and so the shepherd seeks the sheep. The sheep never seek the shepherd and so if it hasn't dawned on you yet, and you are the pearl that Jesus is seeking.
Now think about that. Wrap your mind around that. You are the pearl of great price that Jesus seeks. Even in our fallen state Jesus sees value in us. You may say well I'm ugly, this is wrong with me, that's wrong with me. Jesus sees value in you. Even in our fallen state we're still of such a great value in the sight of heaven that God gave his only begotten son to seek and to save us. In the Greek the word 'seeking' means to leave one place and come to another place. Jesus left heaven and came down here to this dark old world. Who was he seeking. He's seeking his kids. His children. He's seeking you.
Now you remember several weeks ago we talked about those 33 miners in the sermon illustration. On Wednesday, October 13 they were rescued. There's not one person down in that tomb down there in Chile. And you know how much they spent? Almost $1 million per person. Was it worth it? What do you think? I think so. We would spend $1 million to rescue a miner down in some dark mine. They were the pearls of great price that their country sought. They were pulled from the clutches of certain death. They could not save themselves but their country saved them because it took the resources of the entire country to bring them up.
Did you notice what they were wearing when they stepped out of the rescue capsule? They were given a suit to wear with a harness and everything but over the top of that, what did they have on? A shirt. And that shirt was provided by the Seventh-day Adventist church. To every one of those miners. Almost all of them wore that shirt as they stepped out into the sunshine. On the back of that shirt is a text the Seventh-day Adventist church put on there, Psalm 95:4. I don't know if you've ever read that text in this way but let me quote it to you. It says "in his hand are the depths of the earth." Where are the depths of the earth? In God's hand. Those people wore that shirt and did you notice carefully that as some of them stepped out of the capsule that they had the Adventist Bible in their hand. Did you notice that? Those miners down there in that wretched place came out spiritually renewed. They were. I think our church also ministered to those people on the surface up there. The families. Many of them were fed food by Seventh-day Adventist Christians donating their time and their energy, praying with those people. We need to use opportunities like that. If disaster comes, let's be the first to be involved. Don't you think we ought to be? They were. They did it right. They rescued those pearls.
Let me tell you that Jesus is the seeker and it's we who are lost. We are down in the mine. We are helpless. And despite our location in this old world of sin we are precious in the sight of God.
The natural pearl has its home, where? Where does the pearls exist? In the depths of the sea. Way down on the sea floor the pearl basically begins as a pain in the stomach of the oyster. That's how a pearl gets started. That little grain of sand hurts and it's got to be encapsulated and so the pearl is from a living organism. It comes out of an oyster. That is unlike almost any other jewel in the world today. About every jewel that you have is not alive and never was alive and never came from life. A diamond is basically a human invention. We take a stone we chisel it just right and we get those facets just right. The pearl is not. You are a pearl and you are not from human hands. You are from God. You are not from evolution. You are from God's hands. That's where you are from.
Where does an oyster live? It lives in the unclean dirty depths of the sea. It lives with the scavengers. In the Bible the sea represents people. Like oysters, sinners are taken out of the depths of this unclean, wicked world. Now Adventists don't eat oysters. We don't eat clams because they're unclean and if you think about it, all the poisons in the ocean are heavy metals and where do heavy metals end up? They sink to the bottom and those bottom feeders, including those clams and oysters and that type of stuff, that's where they live, and so we don't eat that type of stuff. Those bottom feeders live there and that's where the pearl comes from is where all that wicked, yucky stuff is on the bottom. That's how far Christ dredges His people up out of the pit from which we were dug.
Another thing about oysters is they're all ugly. Have you ever seen a pretty oyster? Not one thing from our origin is beautiful. Like an oyster diver, Jesus descended into the depths of sin in search of something of eternal value and when he finds it he exposes its beauty. A pearl is covered with a beauty that is not its own. When you might look in the mirror you see your old sinful self, when Jesus looks at you, Jesus sees an object of beauty. Jesus sees a jewel in you. Jesus sees in you his seven cow wife. Jesus sees utmost value when he looks at you. Our highest purpose is to showcase Jesus because somebody said pearls are made to enhance the owner. Well we're the pearls and we're here to enhance Jesus Christ.
Now if you were the only one who ever sinned Jesus would've died for you and paid the price which is all he has. The merchant man gives up everything he has to secure you. To secure you.
Now what is our part? We have a part in salvation. What is the part of the pearl? Well our part provides the irritation. that's our part. Right? We are the gritty scratchy grain of sand and we cut God and God's part is the covering and our part is being willing to be covered after we cut him. God places an expensive covering or robe over us and presto, we become priceless.
Now look at Adam and Eve. Adam hurt God. Adam cut God to his heart. And what was God's response? God covered Adam. When out and killed a sheep and made a covering. Every time you hurt God, what does God do? He covers you. He covers you with his blood. He forgives you. He loves you. He pours on the love. God provided a covering for Adam.
A pearl isn't much. If you hit a pearl with a hammer you end up with a pile of lime-like chalk. It's just dust. A pearl isn't much. It's only the covering that makes the pearl valuable. And that's what makes you valuable is that covering. If you're covered with the robe of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, you're valuable. You're priceless. You are the pearl of great price. In Eden God covered man's nakedness, and at Calvary God covered man's sin. In both cases an innocent lamb died for the guilty.
A pearl is produced as a result of suffering of a living organism and from much suffering an object of beauty and value is formed. And I'm wondering, could it be that when we all get to heaven that those who have suffered the most in this life will be the most valuable up there. As the little grain of sand in the oyster is ultimately clothed with a beauty not of its own so we are covered with the beauty of the righteousness of the character of Jesus Christ and that is priceless. You can't afford it. All you have to give is filthy rags in exchange for the robe and that's all he wants, is your filthy rags and he will give you this covering that will make you a priceless pearl. It will make you into one of Jesus' jewels. Never forget your value.
So Jesus is standing at your heart door knocking and Jesus is looking for pearls. He's looking for this jewel. Jesus loves you because he sees in you a pearl. You are the pearl that he died for. May his death not be in vain. He paid for your covering with his blood. Give your life to Jesus. May He be the thrill of your soul. May he be jewel of your life and may you sparkle in his kingdom. Jesus loves you.
Hymn of Praise: #220, When He Comes Scripture: Matthew 13:45-46 Hymn of Response: #189, All That Thrills My Soul Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 10/21/10