Matthew 13:45-46 speaks of a pearl of great price. What does this parable mean? Who is the merchant? Who does the pearl represent? Parables are given to those who don’t know God as a cloaking device to hide their meaning, but for those who are Christ’s own, they reveal a hidden treasure of knowledge about the believer.
The Merchant appears to be Jesus Himself. He seeks these fine pearls (John 6:44) and is willing to sell all that He has to purchase them (John 3:16). Jesus gave His life for those who He saves. The cross signifies the highest price that He could pay: His own life. He sold all that He had.
The Fine Pearls
The fine pearls are those Who Jesus saves. We are of such infinite value to Him that He preordained our eternal salvation and secured the way with His own life. A pearl is the only fine gem that is formed by a living organism. And this one that was dead, and now alive, was living and then dying for us. No other precious stone is formed from a living organism.
A clam forms a precious pearl by an imperfection within its organism. The analogy is that an imperfect person is made perfect. The irritant to the clam is made into a precious stone. It is done through suffering. Suffering is a way of perfection, even for the Christian. Like the slow forming pearl, it is hidden from the world, like the mystery of the Gospel. It resides in darkness. It is retrieved by an external force. A pearl is incapable of freeing itself. It is clamped tight within the structure of the clam. It needs a Searcher to free it. God’s effectual calling is this search.
The Fine Pearls
Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, all can be divided. But pearls, like the church, cannot be divided. If you try to divide a pearl, it is destroyed. On both the inside and the outside, it is shiny and pure and white. And it is of great value to the merchant. That includes you and me. Each are a fine pearl to God.
I like to sum this up by what I perceive is God’s calling and work in us. He sought me, He caught me, He bought me, He taught me, what I ought be. To Him, a pearl of great price, so great that it cost Him His very life.