- Sermon Notes
A Pearl of Great Price
Matthew chapter 13 is famous because it contains all of the parables of Jesus. There are seven of them. The first four parables are given to the multitude that had gathered on the beach while Jesus taught them from a boat a short distance away.
After Jesus taught the first four parables, He left the multitudes, and went into the house. There, the disciples came and asked him to explain the parable of the “tares of the field.” And after explaining that parable, he continued to teach them three more parables. So there's an important distinction for us to take note of; these last three parables are given only to the disciples that were with him in the house that day.
Let's be reminded again what a parable is; in the Greek parable means to "cast alongside." In other words, the parable is a story or illustration that is cast alongside the truth and it serves the purpose of both revealing and concealing the truth that it is cast alongside of. For those who have ears to hear, it reveals the truth. For those who do not have ears to hear, they conceal the truth.
Yes, there were people in the crowd that day that did not have ears to hear. The Sadducees and Pharisees had for some time only brought questions to Jesus, but in Matthew 12 we saw that they openly opposed and rejected Jesus. In fact, their opposition reached such a peak that they had the audacity to say of Him, “He casts out demons by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons,” or in other words, Satan himself.
These last three parables are given to the disciples only and have great application for all of us. In other words, they’re personal.
I. Know How Valuable You Are
- These next two parables are about things of great value. The first speaks of a treasure hidden in a field; that suggests something of great value.
- The second parable speaks of a pearl of greatest price. And so both parables are similar, though as we will see, somewhat different.
- Many have interpreted these valuable things as representing Christ, but there are problems with that interpretation as we will see.
- I'm convinced that when Jesus is speaking of these things of such great value, he is speaking about us. He is speaking about the church whom He loves. But when we look at ourselves as great treasure, many struggle with that as well, and for good reason.
- But Jesus has a point to make and so casts a parable alongside the truth so the light will come on in our hearts and we will say, "I understand now what you're trying to say, and it causes me to love You all the more."
A. You are like a treasure hidden in a field
- In those days, people didn't have the convenience or security of taking their treasure and placing them in a bank’s safe deposit box.
- Typically, they would find some hidden place on their property, place it in a chest and bury it somewhere secretly. Inevitably, some people would die and tell no one where they had buried their valuable treasure.
- So a man finds a treasure hidden in a field and from joy over it goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. That's the parable. But what is the treasure and who is it that buys the field?
- If the treasure is Christ, as some suppose, that would mean that we would have to purchase Him or at least purchase our salvation; the very thing that scripture denies as possible. Let’s look at some verses that shed light for us.
- First of all, can we earn our salvation so that it's something we deserve? Answer; absolutely not.
Illus – How can a person make up for a lie? By telling the truth? No, he's always supposed to do that. Can he make up for doing something wrong by doing something right? No, he’s always supposed to do that. Can he make up for it by punishing himselves?
Colossians 2:23, These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result works, so that no one may boast.
- Is salvation something that can be purchased?
Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7 You who have no money come
- No, we cannot earn salvation and we cannot purchase it. The truth is completely the opposite and it's much more beautiful as well.
- God sees in this field a great treasure so valuable that he sells everything to purchase it. In other words, the treasure is you and me.
B. You were bought with a great price
- The treasure is you and me and the price that was paid was the life of the Son of God.
Illus - There is an old worship song we used to sing many years ago that captures this beautifully… O how He loves you and me, oh how He loves you and me, He gave his life, what more could He give, oh how He loves you and me.
- That’s the point; He took our sins upon himself. He bought us back. It started all the way back in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve turned their backs on God and sinned, and then when God confronted it, He said that there would be thorns and thistles in the ground as a result.
- But then Christ came and took upon himself the iniquities of us all. In fact, they pressed into His head a crown of thorns. There is a picture that is very important for us to understand.
- He saw this great treasure and He bought it for a great price, the life of the Son of God. Many would look at that and say, "I don't understand it, how can these things be?"
App – I have to be honest and say that when I first looked at this verse, many years ago, and the real meaning of it was revealed to me, I also responded, "Lord, I do not understand this one at all; because I am no treasure. I know who I am, other people don't know the inner workings of my heart, but I know the real me. I sometimes get angry and sometimes I say and do things I regret, I am no treasure."
- What is something worth? The value of something is determined by what someone will pay for it.
Illus – When I was in bible college I needed an inexpensive car and so I went to the car auction, but I found a rare treasure. An Alfa Romeo sports sedan…
- What, then, is our value? Christ gave His life; we've been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. That, then, is our value.
1 Peter 1:18-19, … knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold… but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
- Yet, “I don’t feel valuable; Lord I feel dirty, I feel like I should be an irritation and a bother to You. I'm certainly not worth what you paid. I don't think you got a very good deal, Lord.”
C. A pearl of great price begins as an irritant
- This next parable gives us more insight to understand God's heart toward us. A merchant who deals in pearls see a pearl of such great value that he sells everything to purchase it.
- Jesus is again describing the value of those He redeems by His blood; the church.
Illus – in the New Jerusalem in the future, the twelve gates will be made of pearl. (Revelation 21:21)
- This is a helpful parable when you understand what a pearl really is. It begins as nothing more than a dirty irritation with rough edges, but is made valuable as the oyster covers that irritation with layer upon layer of this hard, impenetrable glorious covering.
- It started out as an ugly, irritating, rough edged piece of dirt and is made beautiful and glorious by what the oyster does to it.
- Now this is something we can relate to, the heart of the pearl we can identify with, that which is invaluable and rough and dirty; the rest is His. Layer upon layer He adds His glory.
- He bought us when we didn’t deserve anything.
Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- Now we understand what God is doing in this parable. When many people look at their lives they quickly recognize that they are dirty, unworthy, filthy and an irritation that deserves to be rejected, but then they act that out and repel themselves away from God. But this is the wrong reaction.
- But God knows who we are, He is not deceived, He takes the life we were and changes and transforms us by adding His glory and making all things new in our lives.
Revelation 21:5, And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
II. God Transforms by Strengthening Faith
- The next parable of the dragnet is similar to the parable we learned last wheat about and the tares.
- Here also, Jesus said that at the end of the age the nations will be and separated. Those that are his to Himself and those who have not received him as Lord and Savior are cast away where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- Jesus asked if they understood all these things and they responded, "Yes." They probably didn’t fully understand then, that did later.
- Then he adds one more thing that gives us great insight in how God transforms His church.
A. Truth transforms; both old and new
- Jesus said to them that every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old.
- Scribes were those who would copy the scriptures and write them out and because of their knowledge of the Word, they had a great treasure.
- But Jesus is saying that those scribes who are disciples have knowledge both of the old as well as the new should bring forth their treasures both new and old. In other words, God will use the full counsel of His Word in transforming people's lives.
Romans 10:17, So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
- So here we see that Christ is making all things new and will use both Old Testament and New Testament in transforming us.
Romans 12:2, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- God gives truth in His Word that renews our minds and our hearts in Christ Jesus and He will make us what He desires by His glory..
Revelation 5:9 He made them into a kingdom and priests…
B. Increase in faith and God will move
- The next scene that unfolds is sad, but also instructive. Jesus comes to Nazareth his home town, but they are offended at Him.
- And then in verse 58 we read, "He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief."
- It’s not that He couldn’t, but rather that He wouldn’t do many miracles because of unbelief.
- God is strengthening our faith through His Word and by faith God also moves in our lives; not faith in faith itself, but faith in Him who is able.
Matthew 9:28, Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." “…Then let it be done according to your faith.”
Illus – When Manasseh finally knew that the Lord was God...
Matthew 13:44-58 NASB