Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Pearl of Great Price

Mat 13:45  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Mat 13:46  Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
Mat 13:47  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
Mat 13:48  Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
Mat 13:49  So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
Mat 13:50  And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

There are interesting things about pearls that lend light in understanding this parable. A pearl in Jesus day was the only gem that came from a living creature. A pearl is formed by an irritant that gets inside the oyster's shell, be it a grain of sand (usually) or pebble that gets inside the oyster shell. The oyster cannot get rid of the irritant, so it forms a glossy coating over it, layer upon layer, until, over time, it becomes a beautiful pearl. When someone harvests a pearl, the oyster dies to give this pearl to the one who finds it. Oysters were considered "unclean" by the Jews of Jesus' day, therefore a pearl was a gemstone "of the Gentiles".

There are probably many other things about pearls that I'm forgetting to mention, but let's take the things above as they relate to our Christian walk.

1. formed from a living creature: God can make things out of nothing, poof! Earth, stars, sky, trees, everything out of nothing. Here is something that He makes by using a living creature to make it through, instead of just making it by Himself out of nothing.

2. by an irritant that gets inside: instead of giving the oyster a way of getting rid of the source of irritation, He forms a pearl, something beautiful and valuable, out of it. He doesn't make it go away, He transforms it.

3. dies to give this pearl to the one who finds it: in order for others to get an appreciation of the pearl the creature has to die. Jesus gave His life (as it was taken from Him, but they couldn't take it unless He gave it up for them) so that we all could find His pearl of great price.

4. considered "unclean" by the Jews: the Jews knew all about clean and unclean. These were symbols to teach about God, and holiness, and sin, etc. Pearls were treasured by the Gentiles, so this parable was a hard one for religious Jews to swallow. We so want to think that our goodness, our avoidances of what is sinful, our outward appearance, makes us acceptable to God. Jesus said the Pharisees (who were considered the most righteous Jews of Jesus' day) were "empty whitewashed sepulchers". They were beautiful on the outside, but inside full of dead men's bones. They hated hearing that, and they certainly wouldn't teach that. They would probably fit in very well with the preachers of today that only want to point out the good and pretend they were acceptable, while avoiding talking about true sin, and the consequences of it, and the irritation they felt by having their cover blown didn't lead to repentance. It led to anger, and hatred, and sin.

The parable of the Pearl of Great Price points to what Jesus did, and how He also forms a pearl in those who are His, a pearl that is made in something unclean, us fallen sinners, and forms something beautiful out of something broken and seemingly unfixable. It is humbling because we do not do it, He does it, and it is irritating because it puts down our flesh and irritates our flesh, but over time He uses it to transform something inside of us. That irritant is what we share with others, so that it gets in their flesh, and with God's transforming power, creates more pearls of great price at the great cost of putting down the flesh in favor of His redeeming love and power.

Gal 5:24  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Gal 5:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Gal 5:26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Only God is good, and that is irritating to the flesh. We want to apply goodness to ourselves, and not be reminded, or remind others, of the vileness that we are, but if we remain faithful to remind ourselves as well as others of the goodness of God and the sickness that we have, we will be hated of men, who only want their ears tickled with things they want to hear. Such is the "church" that we have today, wishy-washy, weak, salt that has lost it's savor and needs to be thrown out, good for nothing.

I pray many more will be faithful, to say what is irritating but true, to the putting down of our vanity and flesh.

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