The Treasure and the Pearl (Matthew 13:44-46)
I. The Supreme Value of the Kingdom
In these two parables, Jesus teaches us that the kingdom of heaven is of such surpassing value that it is worth having, no matter the cost.
The kingdom of heaven is valuable, first, because of what it saves us from. When we are brought into the kingdom of heaven, we are saved from the everlasting condemnation. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus describes that condemnation as a “furnace of fire” and a place where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (verses 41-42). The moment we are transferred into the kingdom of heaven we are saved from the punishment that our sins deserve because of union with Christ, who endured that punishment in our place on the cross. When we enter into the kingdom of heaven we are also saved from the power and reign of sin. Previously we were in the kingdom of darkness, where our disobedient hearts were happily enslaved to their sinful desires. But when we are transferred into the kingdom of heaven, we are given new hearts and are rescued from sin as the ruling agent in our lives.
The kingdom of heaven is also of incomparably great value because of what it saves us to. What makes our membership in this kingdom of such infinite worth is that it means we get to know the King. Right now, in this current stage of the kingdom, we know Him through faith (1 Peter 1:8). Soon, in the coming stage of the kingdom, we will know Him by sight as we behold His beauty throughout the ages to come. He is the great benefit and value of the kingdom of heaven; He is the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price.
II. The Need for the Holy Spirit’s Work in the Kingdom
Both men in the parables, once they had laid their eyes on the treasure and the pearl, knew that it was of supreme value. They didn’t need to call in a friend for a second opinion; they were absolutely convinced it was worth forsaking all to have it. In the same way, when we truly behold Christ through faith, we are absolutely convinced that He is of absolute surpassing value—we don’t need a second opinion. But, still, we were once blind to His worth, and there remain many today in the world that are utterly unimpressed with Christ and see no value in Him. As in the incarnation of Christ, so it is today, that at the preaching of the gospel: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:5). The sinful heart cannot appreciate or accept the value of Jesus, because it is blinded by its own love of sin and darkness. Only the Spirit of God is able to break down the hardness of the heart, remove the blinders of sin, and give us a taste for the greatness of Jesus Christ. That is what happens in the conversion of every true believer. We might not know when it happened exactly, but we do know for certain that we see value in worth in Christ today that we never used to see. We love Him in a way that we never used to love Him. And we do that because He has changed our hearts by His Spirit and opened our eyes to see His beauty.
III. The Life of Those who Find the Kingdom
To purchase the pearl and the treasure, these two men were willing to give up every last thing they owned in order to have it. In the same way, once someone enters into the kingdom and discovers its value, they are willing to give up anything and everything to have it. And this is done joyfully, because they are convinced that what they now have in their possession in Christ far surpasses anything they would ever give up. As one commentator put it, “It stands on God’s honor not to make us losers when we trade with Him.” Giving up all in our pursuit of knowing and obeying Jesus Christ is worth it, because we will “receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 10:29).
The point of the parable is not to teach us that we must buy our way into the kingdom, since we enter the kingdom freely through faith alone because of the payment Christ has made for us (Is 55:1ff). Instead, the parable teaches us about the nature of true saving faith. If we really have come to believe that Jesus is of supreme value, more than all other earthly possessions and privileges combined, then there will be evidence seen in our lives that we’ve counted all else as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Him (Phil 3:8).
- If someone asked you to describe the value of Christ Jesus, where would you begin? Why is Jesus the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure? Why is He worth forsaking all that stands in the way of devotion to Him?
- When Christ is no longer the center of our lives and the One who is of greatest value to us, we are in the process of spiritual decline. What competes in your heart for the place only Jesus should have? What have you been unwilling to forsake in order to conform your life to Him? What do you think about more than Christ?
- What evidence can you point to in your life to demonstrate that Christ is of greatest value to you? Do you have the kind of faith that is described by these two parables?