Christ, the Pearl of Great Price!
William Nicholson, 1862
"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!" Matthew 13:45-46
Jesus Christ was a wise and impressive Teacher. The parables which he delivered, are replete with instruction, and calculated to rivet important truths on the mind.
The pearl in Scripture is used to indicate:
1. the precious truths of the Gospel, Matthew 7:6
2. the glory of Heaven, Revelation 21:21
3. Christ himself, as in our text.
1. Pearls, as naturalists say, have a mysterious origin.They are the wonderful production of a Shell Fish, found chiefly in the East Indies. The shell, at a certain time of the year, opens itself, and pearls form when a microscopic intruder settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, secretes materials to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times, thus producing a pearl.
So the origin and birth of Christ are wonderful and mysterious. God manifest in the flesh, is the admiration of angels. A virgin (the Mother of this Pearl, according to the flesh), being overshadowed with the Holy Spirit, travailed in birth, and brought forth Christ, the Pearl of great Price. Luke 1:35.
2. Those who would find Pearls, must search diligently for them, and encounter many dangersby diving into the sea, etc.
And those who would find Christ the Pearl of groat Price, must search and seek after him diligently, as for hidden treasure. They must resolve to pass through all the troubles and difficulties connected with the profession of Christ.
3. It is not an easy thing to find Pearls.They are generally found on rocks submerged in deep water; and it requires considerable skill in those who dive for them, to discover them.
Just so, it is no easy thing to find Christ, and obtain a real saving interest in him. This difficulty arises from the pride of the heart, which revolts at being stripped of all its pretensions to self-righteousness.
The requisitions of the Gospel are too self-denying, too mortifying for the sinner. He will not stoop to them.
Besides, he has never dived into his own heart, to perceive his wretchedness — nor into the Scriptures, to perceive Christ's glory.
4. Pearls are very valuable."They are richest merchandise of all," says Pliny, "and the most sovereign commodity throughout the whole world." And he speaks of one pearl that Cleopatra had, which was valued at £80,000 sterling. The Persian Emperor had one worth £110,000; and Philip II of Spain, had one valued at 144,000 ducats. They have ever been highly valued, and men would part with all to possess them.
Just so, Christ is of inestimable value, and may well be called the Pearl of great Price. The worth and excellency of Christ, far exceed the riches of both Indies. He is the rarest Jewel the Father has in Heaven and earth — more precious unto believers than rubies. All that can be desired, cannot be compared unto him. What Job says of the value of wisdom, is strictly applicable to Christ: "It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver. It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with precious onyx or sapphires. Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold. Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies. The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold!" Job 28:15-19
Those who have Christ, have enough. They have the true riches — the greatest prize! They are rich for time, for death, and for eternity. This Pearl of great Price invests them with infinite and everlasting wealth, dignity, and glory!
5. Pearls possess a splendid brightness, shining in splendor. Their beauty is as much within, as without.
Just so, Christ is beautiful, fair, and shining. His glorious beauties, his splendid brightness, surpass the glorious splendor and brightness of the sun shining in his strength. "He is the brightness of his Father's glory," etc. Hebrews 1:3. He is the light of the world the light and glory of Heaven!
6. It is said that pearls possess medicinal value; being an antidote to poison, and melancholy, and tending to preserve bodily strength.
Just so, Christ possesses healing and strengthening power. There is no cordial so rich and efficacious to the wounded soul, as Christ. The power of his sacrifice and Spirit revive immediately the contrite ones. We are strengthened with all might by his Spirit in the inner man. By him, we destroy the poison and power of sin and Satan.
7. Pearls are so firm, strong, and compact, that fire cannot consume them, nor ordinary strength break them.
Christ is called a Stone, a tried Stone, and sure Foundation. No fire can consume him — no atheistic, infidel, or Satanic power can break or injure him. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against him.
8. Pearls are a rich ornament, and those who bear them are accounted the honorable of mankind.
Just so, Christ is the believer's richest ornament. Those who are adorned with this Pearl, are the most renowned and honorable ones in the world. "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor." Proverbs 12:26.
Saving religion dignifies man. It has also a friendly influence over secular affairs. It would be cruel to intimate that every instance of failure in trade, originates in vice — but it may be said with propriety, that the generality of these deficiencies, even in good men, are not pure afflictions; but have been caused by the neglect of some of its duties, or the violation of some of its properties.
Real religion makes a man punctual, and diligent, and economical. It makes him liberal — and he who sows plentifully shall reap plentifully. True religion . . .
saves him from expensive vices and amusements;
raises his character by the exercise of the moral virtues,
gains him the confidence of his fellow-creatures;
contributes to his health, and to the improvement of his understanding;
secures him the favor of Providence; and "the blessing of God makes rich and adds no sorrow;"
"has the promise of the life which now is, and also the life to come," etc.
9. Notwithstanding the excellence and value of pearls — yet many are ignorant of them, and many esteem them no more than pebbles.Swine tread them under their feet.
The Lord Jesus Christ, though so precious as to be adored by saints and angels, is despised and rejected by men of the world, who have their portion in this life. They see no beauty nor loveliness in him. The eyes of their understanding are darkened.
10. Pearls are found one by one, or one at a time.
Just so, Christ is singular. There is but one Christ the Savior, one Mediator between God and man. 1 Timothy 2:5. It is the "one pearl of great price," and there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12.
But though the glory and excellency of Christ as the Savior are admirably set forth by the figure of the text — yet observe the following DISPARITY.
1. Pearls have an earthly origin.
Jesus Christ is the Lord from Heaven.
2. Pearls are of a perishing nature — they may be defaced, broken, dissolved, and come to nothing.
Christ is durable. This Pearl of great Price can never be spoiled or dissolved. Nothing can diminish his beauty or glory. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
3. Men may find a rich and precious pearl, and yet may remain miserable. Riches may prove a bane to them.
He who finds this Pearl can never be miserable. Jesus supplies all the wants and necessities of believers. He makes them rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. "All things are yours!"
1. Bless God for bestowing his chief and best Pearl upon you!
2. Be willing to part with all, for the possession of this Pearl. Go and sell all that you have. Surrender the world, with all its fascinations and pleasures. Surrender . . .
your possessions, etc. etc.
— to possess this invaluable gem!
3. See the folly of those who prefer earthly vanities to Christ, the Pearl of great Price. Death will soon cause them to surrender all that they idolize on earth, and then they will lack the only substantial wealth — Christ, the Pearl of great Price!