Men Seeking Pearls in Scripture

Today’s article was provided by Brother Jonah Lowrance.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

Matthew 13:45-46

The merchant of pearls had pearls to sell and money to buy them, but for this one great pearl, he sold all the others to have it. There are those, like the merchant, who have many pearls of wisdom: ideas, philosophies, and principles of life that they keep. These things may help them to some degree with the trials of life, but are of no value next to the truth found in the kingdom of heaven! 

There is a man in the Bible who is a good example of the merchant of pearls. His name is Nicodemus. Nicodemus was Pharisee, a teacher of the Jews, and most importantly well acquainted with the law and prophets. We learn these things in the Gospel of John Chapter 3, in which we find Nicodemus seeking to learn something new from or about Jesus. He is seeking Pearls. The conversation ends with Nicodemus not understanding what he was told, but this doesn’t stop him. He wants to learn. The next time we hear about him is in John Chapter 7. Instead of talking to Jesus in secret like before, Nicodemus openly defends Jesus using the law. The last we hear of him is after the crucifixion in John Chapter 19 when he brought a spice mixture to put on the body that weighed 100 pounds. This act of devotion to Christ would have ended the career and social life of this master Pharisee. If you recall in John Chapter 9 that the parents of the blind man feared being kicked out of the synagogue for speaking something that might seem like something good about Jesus. Nicodemus just paid the greatest of respects to a man his friends had a hand in killing.  There is no doubt the other Pharisees hated Nicodemus after this. Nicodemus didn’t care. He had found a pearl of a great price worth far more than all the pearls of the Pharisees. Nicodemus didn’t have to wait but three days to learn he had done the right thing. 

By contrast, we can see two others who had the same intellectual prowess as Nicodemus regarding the law and the way to live.  The first is King Agrippa. Agrippa made the infamous statement “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28) after hearing Paul’s defense of his own faith. Agrippa knew the law and prophets well and had the kingdom clearly set before his eyes, but he looked at Paul’s bonds and then at his own crown and would not give up all he had and buy this pearl of great price. The same story can be seen in Nicomedous’s peer, Gamaliel. The scholar Gamaliel said that if the Christian movement was of God none could stand against it. He watched it prosper under persecution and even had his star pupil join them, but he never followed through on his grand statement. He was comfortable where he was and had no interest in the kingdom even though he knew it was of God. These two men invested their lives in the nation of the Jews. What followed was the destruction of all of it. Nicodemus found a great pearl and would not let anything keep him from having it. The kingdom he was dedicated to was not destroyed like that of Agrippa’s and Gamaliel’s. It prospered and is the same kingdom we have today.

Let us sell all to have the pearl of great price in our lives: the kingdom of heaven!   

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