The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl
Jesus has always and will always make a ruckus in the world. While many misunderstand him and many people gawk at him, there will always be those who truly love him and that brings him great joy. In the series of parables from Matthew 13, there were all sorts of people were gathering in great numbers to listen to him, so many that he had to get into a boat and teach just offshore. I imagine it as a calm day with glassy seas, with his devoted disciples straining their ears, while rubberneckers, religious leaders and the bored churned up ill sentiment about him.
We must always reflect on the fact that the Bible is essentially a love story. It's the eternal love affair between God and his Church, Jesus and his Bride. The Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl demonstrate just how much Jesus loves us.
These two parables are the fifth and sixth in the series which taught his disciples about the coming of the kingdom of heaven. How would the kingdom spread across the earth? For whom is the kingdom of heaven designed. And when would the kingdom appear on earth?
It is at this key point, that Jesus comes to the 'why', for what purpose has and will the kingdom come?
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The keyword in the parable is joy. In each of these brief parables, we feel a sense of great excitement, realized expectation and joy, both when the man found the treasure and when the merchant found the special pearl.
In the first parable, Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure. In the second parable, the kingdom of heaven is like the merchant looking for fine pearls. The kingdom is both a treasure and the merchant. Who is the merchant? What is the treasure?
For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.
The treasure is his Son's Bride. The merchant is God.
In John's Apocalypse, we learn that the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem are adorned with a single pearl. "The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl." The Church, the New Israel, the Bride of Christ, is the cause of such great joy. Didn't the father have a similar response when his prodigal son returned home. Jesus really does love his bride and this should make all of us very glad indeed.
Many interpreters define the treasure as Jesus and that it is us that must sell everything to purchase a room in the Kingdom. However, as we learned from the Parables of the King's War Plans, we just aren't able to sell everything to buy Jesus. That's not the Gospel I know. We don't have anything really valuable to sell. We are only humble, repentant sinners. And he loves us and he will make us his own. Jesus teaches us in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet that it is "the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame" who are fit for the kingdom. The proud, haughty and indifferent were not fit for the kingdom. In fact, in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, these folks had 'better' things to do anyway.
When we understand that by Jesus' death on the cross, God has purchased us through the price tag of his only begotten son, then we understand that it was God who "sold all he had and bought" the fine pearl, his Church. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son..." (John 3:16)
It's important to note that God will polish us and ready us to be a part of that treasure. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, we learn that we must let God's word grow in us and flourish. In the Parable of the Sower, we learn that we must help Jesus cultivate good soil for his Spirit to flourish.
But this parable is not about me or about you. This parable is about us. We discover just how important the bride is to Jesus. We are truly his beloved.