Matt 13:46                             One pearl of Great Price               12/2/2007      ßà

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       A Man on a Journey (Rev 21:9-11,21, 13:8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Master Plan of God Almighty (Eph 1:3-14)

 

 

 

 

 

·        The Most Beautiful Ornament in God’s Plan (1Sam 2:7-8, John 17:21, 2Cor 8:9)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       The Son of Mary (1Peter 2:24-25, Eph 5:25-27, 31-32, Matt 22:30)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Matt 13:45 (2X). We have been going through this chapter very slowly, so as not to miss any of the eight parables that the Lord Jesus gave us here in this chapter. And so far it has been a wonderful experience seeing the sovereignty of God at work in the seed that He planted in parables number 1 and 2. Then we saw God’s sovereignty at work in the development and growth of the church as shown in the prophecies of parables number 3 and 4. Last week we saw in parable number 5 the Lord’s sovereignty on display when He told us that we were like a beautiful treasure in the world and that He was going to buy the world and so obtain the treasure that He wanted. Today we have arrived at the sixth parable in this chapter. And since we discovered that these parables were paired two by two, we can expect that parable number 6 will be somewhat parallel to parable number 5. The Lord began this parable with the usual formula:

Mt 13:45-46, 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.                        

That is the whole parable. This is all we have to work with, to understand this parable. This sixth parable, in Matthew 13, has those characteristic words, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like ……” And then the man and the pearls enter the picture. Therefore the title of this sermon is, One Pearl of Great Price (2X). Out of all those pearls there was one pearl of great price that this man was looking for. What could those pearls represent? Well, the pearls are part of a picture of the kingdom of heaven! Therefore, the pearls must have a spiritual meaning. They cannot represent physical pearls, no matter what the culture of those days was, and no matter how expensive they were in those days. This pearl of great price must be related to the kingdom of heaven. In other words the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ is in view, and it is through salvation that we enter into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Could it be that the “merchant man” in this parable represents one of us? Could it be that the Lord Jesus taught this parable, to teach us that if we want to get into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ we must be willing to give up all that we have and follow Him? Well, that is certainly what Jesus has been teaching throughout the narrative Gospels. There is one problem here with this interpretation: We cannot buy our salvation! This merchant man bought that pearl of great price. Could that “merchant man” represent one of us? Not a chance! In fact, the Bible says in Rom 3:11, “There is NONE that seeketh after God”. And so, what we can conclude from this verse is that sons of Adam are not seeking goodly pearls. Sons of Adam are not seeking for spiritual things that are pleasing to God. They do not like God! In fact, God says in Eph 2:3 that in the past we were dead in trespasses and sins, and in the past we were enamored with the things this world has to offer, and in the past we were living lives that were filled with the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and as a result we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others who remain unsaved for the rest of their lives. Therefore, the first conclusion we can draw from these few words, describing this sixth parable, is that the man in this parable, seeking goodly pearls, was none other than the Lord Himself. You see, this sixth parable is very similar to the fifth parable which speaks of “The Treasure in The Field”.  Compare now the similarities and the differences between the fifth and the sixth parable: The Lord Jesus told the 5th and the 6th parable in the house, privately to the disciples. In both the 5th and the 6th parable the man is the Lord Himself. In both the 5th and the 6th parable He sells all that He has, and buys the field, or buys the pearl. In both the 5th and the 6th parable the act of buying is the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why He told it privately to the disciples, and not to the multitude. When the Lord Jesus told about His coming crucifixion and resurrection, He always told it only to the disciples. Now, let us look at the differences between the two parables. In the fifth parable, He bought the whole field, the whole world, including the treasure in it. And in the sixth parable, He bought only the pearl of great price. This one jewel was His great reward! Let us look again at the wording of this parable of the pearl of great price in Matt 13:45-46,

Mt 13:45-46  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.          

Technically, in verse 46, the word “when” is not present in the original text. Literally the Greek text says, “Who having found one pearl…” Now, let us look at this merchant man in verse 45.

#1.       A Man on a Journey (Rev 21:9-11,21, 13:8)

The two Greek words that were translated “merchant man” literally say, “Man on a journey”. In those days a man on a journey was usually a merchant man, but not always. Think of the apostle Paul, who was on a journey many times for the sake of the Gospel, but he should not be called a merchant man. Therefore, let us hold on to what the Greek text says literally. God knows what He is writing. Who is represented by that man on a journey, and what was He seeking? That man was the Lord Himself. Well, that sounds a little odd. Why was He seeking beautiful pearls?  Was it for His personal adorning? Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 21:9 (2X). What really was God looking for, when He looked for something for His personal glory? Well, you know that God created this universe, and He created the world, and He created mankind, and He created the Church, and He created us for His personal glory. But all of that is the field of the previous parable. We already know that. But now, in the sixth parable, the Lord is seeking something very special! He was seeking a special pearl, for His personal adorning. Here, God is not referring to the universe, which serves Him for His glorification in general, but He is referring to something very special that is very dear to Him. Now, when God indicates something is very special, something that is set apart especially for Him, God uses the word “holy”. That is what “holy” means:  special, set apart! What could that special holy thing be? It could not be anything less than the Bride for His Son! He was seeking the perfect Bride for His Son. The Bible says in Rev 21:9-11 that this is the goal of the overall plan of God. This is the ultimate goal of His creation. We read in Rev 21:9-11,

Re 21:9-11  And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.    And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,        Having the glory of God:  and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

What did John see? He saw the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, the Bride of Christ. God uses two parables here to represent the Bride: First as a great city, called the Holy Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven. And God uses this picture to contrast the Jerusalem from above with the Jerusalem here on earth; two cities that are exactly opposite to each other. Then God says, her light was like the light from a most precious stone, and then He goes on to describe how beautiful that light is. And then, in Rev 21:21, He goes on to describe how the twelve gates of the city are actually twelve gigantic pearls. All of this, that great city that shines like a most precious stone, is the final culmination of God’s plan for this creation. The goal of God’s plan has been achieved, because this is the moment in time when God replaces this present creation with the New Heaven and the New Earth, which is the new universe in which the New Jerusalem shines like a most precious stone. Is it any wonder then, that in the parable of Matt 13:45-46, the one pearl of great price is the same one as that great city that shines like a most precious stone? Secondly, what did John see? He saw the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, the Bride of Christ. What was the Bride made out of? It was made of all the saints throughout time! That is a little hard to imagine. Let us say for example, one hundred million saints, as a manner of speaking. By the way, one hundred million is only about 1% of the people that ever lived upon this earth. But it is a great multitude which no man could number, because nobody could even guess how many there are saved. All the Saints who constitute the perfect Bride in the parable of Matt 13 are represented by a pearl; one pearl! But God was looking only for one pearl. The Lamb has only one Bride. Therefore He was looking for only one pearl. Please turn a few pages back to chapter 13 of this Epistle to the Seven Churches, Rev 13:8 (2X). Who then are these people that are represented by that one pearl? Well, the Father chose the Bride for His Son. And the Bride consists of all the people who have been elected unto salvation, from before the foundation of the world. God calls them “The elect”. Yes, that is what the Bible says in Rev 13:8. And there we read,

Re 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the Beast), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

In Rev 13, God gives the Apostle John a terrifying vision of the condition of the world, and of the Church near the end of time, and God describes here two groups of people: One group of people is the elect, whose names have been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb from the foundation of the world, who will not worship the Beast, who is the image of Satan as he is portrayed in Rev 13:1. The second group of people consists of everyone else who has not been elected unto salvation, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, and who shall worship the Beast, the image of Satan as he is portrayed in Rev 13:1. Let us read that again. God says in Rev 13:8,

Re 13:8  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the Beast), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Please turn to the Gospel According to John, John 10:27 (2X). To those who have not been saved, Rev 13:8 is a terrifying verse. But to those of us who know that we have the blessing that we are saved, this is a most comforting verse. In the midst of this terrifying vision that God gives to the apostle John, in the midst of this vision of a horrible beast that is coming up out of the sea speaking blasphemies, in the midst of this horrible vision where the beast is fighting against the saints and is overcoming the Saints and is worshipped by most people in the churches, God gives us this most comforting verse, Rev 13:8. And what comfort does this verse give us?

First of all it talks about the eternal election of grace: There is “a Book of Life of the Lamb”, and they whose names are written in it cannot be deceived by the beast, and their names have been written in that Book of Life of the Lamb “from the foundation of the world”. But then it speaks as well of those whose names are not written in “the Book of Life of the Lamb”, and who shall certainly be deceived, so that they will worship the Beast. And so, God reminds us that as long as the world stands, there will be a remnant according to the election of grace. Even in the darkest days of apostacy, even though the world is engulfed in the many religions of Antichrist, God has an elect people who cannot and will not perish with the world, because it is God’s eternal election of grace that secures His people from the delusion of false religion. The Lord Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”. And thus, His elect shall never be deceived, for they will hear only the voice of the Lord Jesus, and they will follow only Him.

Secondly, this verse speaks about the eternal redemption of God’s elect: Christ is called here “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, which means that His atonement (His payment for sin) was certain and sure for all of God’s elect from the foundation of the world. Now, who was around before the foundation of the world? Only God Himself: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This covenant of grace, this agreement of grace, existed within the Godhead, before the foundation of the world. The Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the OT saints in exactly the same way as He did for the NT saints. There is only one way sins can be forgiven, there is only one way any person can be redeemed, and that is through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. God says that the redemption of the elect was already certain and sure from before the foundation of the world. It also means that there was only one day in the history of mankind when sins could be forgiven, and that was when Christ hung on the cross on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33. This is the most offensive aspect of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it states that Christ either paid for all your sins, or He did not pay for any of them in AD 33. But the Lord Jesus Christ is God Himself, which means that He is omniscient, which means that He knows who will be saved and who will spend an eternity in Hell. Therefore Christ would not on the cross spend the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for the sins of those who themselves are going to Hell. And therefore He atoned only for the sins of those whom He came to save, His elect, and for no one else. The Lord Jesus said in John 10:15 (2X), “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for The sheep”. He did not lay down His life for every person in the world, but only for “The sheep”, which are only His sheep, for the Lord also said in John 10:26 (2X), “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you”.

Thirdly, God’s eternal election and God’s eternal redemption assure us of the eternal security of God’s elect. They whose names were written in the Book of Life for whom the Lamb was slain cannot lose their salvation. Not one of them can be lost, because God has so decreed it from before the foundation of the world. If even one of those for whom Christ died would be lost, and go to Hell, then the whole purpose and grace of God would fall to the ground defeated, and the promise of God’s salvation would be an empty promise. The Lord Jesus said in John 10:28 (2X), “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand”. Praise God that His plan and purpose always works out the way He designed it. And so, the terrifying prophecy of Rev 13:8 is actually a very comforting vision for those who are saved. It is only terrifying for all those who doubt if this prophecy will come true, and for all those who doubt God’s plan and purpose in making the beast win this battle. How can we see God’s plan and purpose in the parable of the pearl of great price, in Matt 13? You remember, we are still dealing with the parable of Matt 13,

Matt 13:45-46  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man,(a man on a journey) seeking goodly pearls: Who, (when) having found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it”. This parable points out three events in history:

First the stage that He found it. Secondly, He went and sold all that He had. Thirdly, then He bought it. What does it mean that He found it? How can it be that God found something? God is never surprised by anything! And so we see that we have entered into the secrets of:

 #2.      The Master Plan of God Almighty (Eph 1:3-14)

This plan takes shape at a time that might be called minus infinity, meaning before the foundation of the world. Of all the plans God could have used to glorify Himself; Of all the plans (or pearls) God might have considered to adorn Himself; He chose this one plan which yielded this one precious pearl; He chose this one Bride of Christ to adorn Himself. That is how we must understand the words “having found” that one very precious pearl. And then God broke into time and executed this plan, and that was the beginning of history. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:3 (2X). The Bible itself directs us to Eph chapter 1. Here in this chapter God discloses the master plan of God Almighty. Here we find God’s purpose and design in creating the world and all that is therein. Here in Eph 1 do we find God’s plan for our redemption out of this world that became the kingdom of Satan, and could also be described as the Bottomless Pit. We read in Eph 1:3-14,

Eph 1:3 ¶  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Eph 1:4-5  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Eph 1:6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Eph 1:7-8  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Eph 1:9-10  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:           That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Eph 1:12-14  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.       In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,        Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

This is all one sentence. What is God talking about here in Eph 1? God speaks about the fact that “He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world”. Who hath He chosen? He has chosen us! Who are us? We are that precious pearl, we are among those one hundred million people who are going to be standing before the throne of God, we are the multitude that no man could number, and we are the elect whom He hath chosen from before the foundation of the world. He chose us, not because of anything that we have done, and not because of anything that we were going to do, but entirely according to the good pleasure of His will. And God redeemed us through Christ’s blood, and made known unto us the mystery of His will, our salvation, entirely according to the good pleasure of His will. And God promised us a glorious eternal inheritance and promised us that we shall be to the praise of His glory, entirely according to the good pleasure of His will. Therefore at the moment God has chosen us He carried out His plan to adopt us as children to Himself, and to make us the Bride of Christ, always through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And all this He did, not because of anything worthy in us, but only according to the good pleasure of His will.

·        The Most Beautiful Ornament in God’s Plan (1Sam 2:7-8, John 17:21, 2Cor 8:9)

This group of people is the pearl of great price that God was determined to buy. Why did He call it

the pearl of great price? It was because it was a great price He had to pay for it. And what was the price He had to pay? He had to go away and become a man and go to the cross. And now we enter the second point in the history of mankind, which was about 2000 yrs. ago. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of First Samuel, 1Sam 2:7 (2X). God the Son, the Second Person of the Triune God, who created all things in the first place, He had to leave heaven, leave all His glory behind, come down to this sin cursed earth, take on a human body and start this enterprise as a helpless baby. That is literally the meaning of “He had to go away”, and literally, He sold all that He had. And why did Christ have to do that? You see, God decided to build His dwelling place, a great and glorious temple not made with hands, and God chose for building material individuals who were not in high esteem on the earth, who were the rejects of human society, and who were also the scum of the earth in God’s eyes. We were the beggars of the earth, who are spiritually bankrupt, and have nothing to offer to God, for all things we can offer is dirty and is tainted with sin. Not only were we like worms in God’s eyes, but in our self-righteous pride we have joined hands with Satan against God, thinking that we can build an earthly paradise without God. This was the material God decided to work with, and thus He had to transform us from sinners into saints. Is there anything too hard for God? God could have taken a legion of angels and use that as His building material. And this would have given glory to God. But God chose rebellious sinners and with these building materials He is creating a bigger and more glorious dwelling place for Himself. Therefore this will give God even greater glory. But this required that God the Son should come down to earth, take up the body of a man, and be crucified to pay for the sins of all those helpless sinners whom He chose from before the foundation of the world. Therefore the cleansing of these helpless sinners must occur by grace alone, for they could not contribute anything to so great a plan of God. And so, by God’s grace He lifts us up to be with Him forever, not for anything that we could offer Him, for we are bankrupt beggars. We read in 1Sam 2:7,

1Sa 2:7  The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.

1Sa 2:8  He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.

Here we read about the incredible mercy and grace of God, who takes us beggars and makes us princes in the New Jerusalem. This is not just a future event, for God declares in Heb 12 that we are already now citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. And more than that, we read here in 1Sam 2:8 that God makes us inherit the throne of glory, and that is “throne” singular. This refers to the throne of God. The Lord Jesus also hinted at that when He said in John 17:21, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”. We are never going to be equal to Christ, but here in 1Sam 2:8 He indicates that we will receive full authority as if God Himself approved of our actions. In fact, already now we are ambassadors for Christ, and whatever we decide to do for the furtherance of the kingdom, we have His approval, as if we have full authority given to us. But let us not forget that we are in the midst of the parable of the one pearl of great price. The second half of this parable indicates three events in the course of history. The first was: He found it. The second was: He went and sold all that He had. Christ had to become poor. Why was it necessary that He became poor?  It was necessary for His perfect humiliation on behalf of our sins. We read in 2Cor 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich”. For our sakes He became poor, so that we might be lifted up from the dunghill and be made princes in the courts of heaven. Let us then consider His poverty:

#3.       The Son of Mary (1Peter 2:24-25, Eph 5:25-27, 31-32, Matt 22:30)

God the Son came down to earth as the Son of Mary. That was an enormous step down! He became the Son of God and the Son of man at the same time. He was the perfect substitute to intercede for mankind, because He committed no sin in all His life. But His humiliation was not complete until He bought that pearl. This is the last part of the parable in Matt 13:46. And now we are entering the third point in history. This point was on Friday, April 3, in the year AD 33. How did the Lord Jesus Christ buy that pearl of great price? We read that for example in 1Pet 2:24,

1Pet 2:24  Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

The Lord Jesus Christ had to pay for all the sins of all those He came to save, the sins of all the elect, the sins of all those one hundred million people so to speak, and suffer the consequences of the enormous penalty for all those sins, and He had to do that without becoming defiled with our sins. Christ the Judge came down from His Judgment throne and paid the price that had to be paid. And since our sins were put on His account, He could not come back into God’s holy heaven until all those sins were fully paid.  And the amount of the payment was that which was required by the Law of God. The righteousness of God demanded that the Law of God be fully satisfied. How great was that price? The price was Himself, body and soul. He gave His Life. He gave His whole Self. No, not just His body, but in His Spirit, God the Son suffered the equivalent of all of those one hundred million people suffering for an eternity in Hell. Only then would the Law be perfectly satisfied. Only then did He have the right to call all of us, all those whose sins He paid for, all those one hundred million people. Only then did He have the right to call us His own, because He bought us. We are not our own any more. We never were! We were slaves of sin and of Satan. But now Christ is plundering the house of Satan and He has the right to bring us home to the Father. Now He has the right to lead us in His ways, so that we became saved through the hearing of this Gospel. We were lost in this world, but He found us back all right. We read in 1Pet 2:25, “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls”. Now we have become His precious purchased possession.  He went and sold all that He had and bought that pearl of great price. We have become a priceless pearl to Him. We have become the Bride of Christ, like we have read in Rev 21. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 5:25 (2X). In this passage God speaks about husbands and wives, and we are drawn to see this passage as a practical sermon on how to obtain a better marriage. But that is not what God’s focus is in this passage. His focus is given to us in verse 32, “I speak concerning Christ and the church”. God says in Eph 5:25-27,

Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Eph 5:26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Eph 5:27  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

The church God speaks about here is the eternal church: It is the church consisting of all those who truly have been saved, the one hundred million people, the elect, the pearl of great price. God gives husbands a command in verse 25, which they are unable to obey. If you ever needed a clear proof of your own wretched state, look here at verse 25:

Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

It makes me realize that I am in need of a Savior who can forgive sins. It makes me fall down on my knees and plead for mercy. But Christ is far more merciful than I ever can ask for. Not only has He forgiven my sins, but He also makes me a part of that glorious church without spot or wrinkle, and He holds us up to the Father and He says: Look what I bought; it is the beautiful pearl of great price.  On top of that, Christ calls us His Bride, and the great wedding feast is in preparation. Are we really going to marry the Lord Jesus? Well, that is what the Bible says, right here in Eph 5:31-32,

Eph 5:31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Eph 5:32  This is a great mystery:  but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

All the while from verse 22 through verse 32, God is drawing a straight parallel between the bond between a husband and wife, and the bond between Christ and the church. However, we should not think that in the life hereafter we would have some kind of a carnal marriage with Christ like we have here on earth. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 22:30 that “in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”. Our union with Christ will be of a totally different nature that we can envision now, for we still live in an earthly body. But God promises that it will be glorious. Is it not amazing that there are people who reject this beautiful Gospel? But we look forward to that great day when we will be united perfectly to the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. Now, is this what we really look forward to? Is this where our heart’s desire is? Let us ask God that we may receive the faith to belong to that pearl of great price. Christ is far more merciful than we ever could ask or think or even imagine.      AMEN.            Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.