A merchant man, seeking goodly pearls - A story very like this is found in the Talmudical tract Shabbath: "Joseph, who sanctified the Sabbath, had a very rich neighbor; the Chaldeans said, All the riches of this man shall come to Joseph, who sanctifies the Sabbath. To prevent this, the rich man went and sold all that he had, and bought a pearl, and went aboard of a ship; but the wind carried the pearl away, it fell into the sea, and was swallowed by a fish. This fish was caught, and the day before the Sabbath it was brought into the market, and they proclaimed, Who wishes to buy this fish? The people said, Carry it to Joseph, the sanctifier of the Sabbath, who is accustomed to buy things of great value. They carried it to him, and he bought it, and when he cut it up he found the pearl, and sold it for thirteen pounds weight of golden denarii!" From some tradition of this kind, our Lord might have borrowed the simile in this parable.
The meaning of this parable is the same with the other; and both were spoken to impress more forcibly this great truth on the souls of the people: - eternal salvation from sin and its consequences is the supreme good of man, should be sought after above all things, and prized beyond all that God has made. Those merchants who compass sea and land for temporal gain, condemn the slothfulness of the majority of those called Christians, who, though they confess that this salvation is the most certain and the most excellent of all treasures, yet seek worldly possessions in preference to it! Alas, for him who expects to find any thing more amiable than God, more worthy to fill his heart, and more capable of making him happy!
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman - The meaning is, that the proper seeking for salvation, or the proper conduct in reference to religion, is like the conduct of a “merchantman.” In his searches he found one pearl of great value, and sold all his possessions to obtain it. So, says the Saviour, people seeking for happiness and finding the gospel - the pearl of great price - should be willing to sacrifice all other things for this. Pearls are precious stones found in the shells of oysters, chiefly in the East Indies. See the notes at Matthew 7:6. They are valuable on account of their beauty and because they are rare. The value of them is greatly increased by their size. The meaning of this parable is nearly the same as the other. It is designed to represent the gospel as of more value than all other things, and to impress on us the duty of sacrificing all that we possess in order to obtain it.
A pearl of great price is offered to the youth. They may sell all and buy this pearl, or they may refuse it to their own infinite loss. Heaven may be attained by all who will comply with the conditions laid down in the word of God. Our Redeemer was obedient unto death; He gave Himself an offering for sin. Ye are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish.” “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Young friends, you may form earnest purposes in your own strength, you may flatter yourselves that you can pursue a straightforward course without yielding the heart to the controlling influence of the Spirit of God; but you are not thus made happy. Your restless spirit needs change and thirsts for pleasure in amusement and hilarity and the society of your young associates. You are hewing out to yourselves broken cisterns which contain no water. A deceptive power controls your mind and actions. Happiness is to be found only in repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ; for your heart is filled with rebellion; it breathes forth in your words. Your selfish prayers and religious forms may soothe the conscience, but they only increase your peril. Your nature is unrenewed. 4T 625.1
The precious blood of Jesus is the fountain prepared to cleanse the soul from the defilement of sin. When you determine to take Him as your friend, a new and enduring light will shine from the cross of Christ. A true sense of the sacrifice and intercession of the dear Saviour will break the heart that has become hardened in sin; and love, thankfulness, and humility will come into the soul. The surrender of the heart to Jesus subdues the rebel into a penitent, and then the language of the obedient soul is: “Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This is the true religion of the Bible. Everything short of this is a deception. 4T 625.2
The youth have not realized that freedom and light can be retained only through self-denial and constant watchfulness and prayer, with a continual reliance upon the merits of the blood of Christ. When the Holy Spirit is breathing upon the soul, the will and the powers of the man must respond to Its influence. Those who abide in Jesus will be happy, cheerful, and joyful in God. A subdued gentleness will mark the voice, reverence for spiritual and eternal things will be expressed in the actions, and music, joyful music, will echo from the lips; for it is wafted from the throne of God. This is the mystery of godliness, not easily explained, but nonetheless felt and enjoyed. A stubborn and rebellious heart can close its doors to all the sweet influences of the grace of God and all the joy in the Holy Ghost; but the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. The more closely we are connected with Christ, the more will our words and actions show the subduing, transforming power of His grace. 4T 625.3Read in context »
This chapter is based on Matthew 13:45, 46.
The blessings of redeeming love our Saviour compared to a precious pearl. He illustrated His lesson by the parable of the merchantman seeking goodly pearls “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Christ Himself is the pearl of great price. In Him is gathered all the glory of the Father, the fullness of the Godhead. He is the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person. The glory of the attributes of God is expressed in His character. Every page of the Holy Scriptures shines with His light. The righteousness of Christ, as a pure, white pearl, has no defect, no stain. No work of man can improve the great and precious gift of God. It is without a flaw. In Christ are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3. He is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30. All that can satisfy the needs and longings of the human soul, for this world and for the world to come, is found in Christ. Our Redeemer is the pearl so precious that in comparison all things else may be accounted loss. COL 115.1Read in context »
How Jesus Taught the People—Jesus did not give full comments or continued discourses upon doctrines, but He oft spoke in short sentences, as one sowing the heavenly grains of doctrines like pearls which need to be gathered up by a discerning laborer. The doctrines of faith and grace are brought to view everywhere He taught. Oh, why do not ministers give to the churches the very food which will give them spiritual health and vigor? The result will be a rich experience in practical obedience to the Word of God. Why do the ministers not strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die? 3SM 188.3Read in context »