Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 13:44-46.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a pearl…. (Matthew 13:44).
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls…. (Matthew 13:45).
In Matthew 13:44-46 Christ tells the twin parables of hidden treasure and the merchant man seeking goodly pearls.
They describe two different ways by which the thing of greatest value (the kingdom, Christ himself) is discovered.
In the first parable, of the hidden treasure, “the kingdom of heaven is presented as an unexpected discovery” (Alfeyev, Parables, 118). “The man who bought the field, it seems, was not seeking anything in particular. He unexpectedly stumbled upon the kingdom of heaven, finding it as a treasure buried in someone else’s field” (118-119). In the second, however, it comes as “the result of a search” (118).
This seems to indicate that different people find Christ and the gospel in different ways.
Some people seem just to stumble upon him. They weren’t really looking for Christ, but they uncovered him or encountered him unexpectedly. But once they find him, they see and recognize his inherent value, and they know that everything must be given up for him.
Some, on the other hand, go out seeking “goodly pearls.” They may be, as the old country song puts it, “looking for love in all the wrong places.” But they keep looking, and one day they come across Christ, and they say, Here is the one pearl. Here in the pearl of unparalleled value, and I must spend all I have in order to have him.
They are like the ones Christ promised in Matthew 7:7-8 that if they would ask, it would be given them; if they would seek, they would find; if they would knock, the door would be opened.
It doesn’t matter how you think you found Christ. Whether you stumbled upon him, like a treasure in a field, or whether you thought you went out looking for someone like him or something like the faith connected to him, and you discovered him to be the “one” pearl of great price. It had, in fact, been he who was seeking you the whole time. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). If I might paraphrase: We found him, because he first found us.
Spurgeon notes this difference between the two parables and concludes:
“In both cases all was sold to win the prize; and so in any case, however our conversion takes place, we must give up all for Christ.; not of compulsion but willingly” (Matthew, 184).
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff