A Pearl’s Sanctification

Black pearl and its shell
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Matthew 13:44-46

44“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.

45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

How pearls are made? Copyright © 1998-2010 HowStuffWorks, Inc.

As the oyster grows in size, its shell must also grow. The mantle is an organ that produces the oyster’s shell, using minerals from the oyster’s food. The material created by the mantle is called nacre. Nacre lines the inside of the shell.

The formation of a natural pearl begins when a foreign substance slips into the oyster between the mantle and the shell, which irritate­s the mantle. It’s kind of like the oyster getting a splinter. The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. The man­tle covers the irritant with layers of the same nacre substance that is used to create the shell. This eventually forms a pearl.

So a pearl is a foreign substance covered with layers of nacre. Most pearls that we see in jewelry stores are nicely rounded objects, which are the most valuable ones. Not all pearls turn out so well. Some pearls form in an uneven shape — these are called baroque pearls. Pearls, as you’ve probably noticed, come in a variety of various colors, including white, black, gray, red, blue and green. Most pearls can be found all over the world, but black pearls are indigenous to the South Pacific.

Cultured pearls are created by the same process as natural pearls, but are given a slight nudge by pearl harvesters. To create a cultured pearl, the harvester opens the oyster shell and cuts a small slit in the mantle tissue. Small irritants are then inserted under the mantle. In freshwater cultured pearls, cutting the mantle is enough to induce the nacre secretion that produces a pearl — an irritant doesn’t have to be inserted.

The Kingdom of Heaven is of great value to those who are the elect of God.  The Christian who is predestined by God, being called out of the world all due to the grace of God; will willingly do whatever it takes to obtain it.  The Church or body of Christ is equally valuable to Christ as He has purchased her with His life.  The Church will endure just like Christ; sufferings, persecution, tribulations and etc.

Romans 5:1-5

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 8:16-18

16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Commentary on Matthew 13:44-46

The Kingdom Costs True Disciples Everything

True, the kingdom is available to us only by grace through faith; but genuine faith means genuinely embracing and yielding to God’s reign, not simply acknowledging it and then passing it by as if it did not exist. The kingdom is a treasure, and those who really believe it will sacrifice everything else in their lives for its agendas (compare Ladd 1974b:99; Fenton 1977:227; Gundry 1982:276). Professed Christians who desire worldly wealth and status but are far less consumed with the furtherance of God’s kingdom must reconsider the true state of their souls. When we preach that people who simply pray a prayer will automatically be saved from hell regardless of whether they truly commit their lives to Christ in trust that he is saving them from sin (from selfishness, from going their way instead of his), we preach a message other than the one our Lord has taught us.

Treasure Hidden in a Field (13:44)

People in Palestine often hid treasures, and a treasure might remain concealed if the hider died before he could retrieve it. Probably the central character of this parable is a peasant working a wealthy landowner’s field who when plowing turns up a strongbox or jar containing coins. Once he buys the field, the field’s contents legally belongs to him (compare m. Baba Batra 4:8-9), freeing him to later “rediscover” the treasure. Whereas most discovered-treasure stories emphasized the finder’s extravagant lifestyle afterward or some compromise between the field’s seller and buyer (Gen. Rab. 33:1; Jeremias 1972:200), Jesus lays the entire emphasis on the price the man is ready to pay to invest in this treasure far greater than any he already owns. Although this treasure, like the kingdom, is hidden to most of the world, not only does the man recognize that its value outweighs all he has, but (unlike most of us today) he acts accordingly.

A Prosperous Merchant Seeks Pearls (13:44-45)

In contrast to the tenant worker, the central figure of this story is a merchant, a man with capital, hence of greater means. Ancient reports tell of pearls worth tens of millions of dollars in modern currency (Jeremias 1972:199). This merchant, uniquely sensitive to the value of the pearl, wisely invests all he has to purchase it. Other Jewish accounts of finding expensive pearls typically emphasized the finder’s piety; thus a Jewish tailor pays an outrageous price for a fish because he needs it to keep the sabbath, yet finds in it a pearl that supplies his needs the rest of his life (Pes. Rab. 23:6). Jesus, however, emphasizes only the value of the pearl and the joy of finding it (Jeremias 1972:199).

Now think of all that a true Christian endures… Think of the brokenness that comes his/her way.  Think of the demands of Christ and how they naturally conflict with the culture of this world.  Think of the Law of God and how breaking God’s Law servers as the foundation of the world’s system.  The conformation into the image of Christ is our pearl The foreign substance slips into the oyster between the mantle and the shell; to us is the sanctification of our souls.  As we mature in the faith we grow strong and the Holy Spirit groans for us in pray and renews our mind (Romans 8).

If you ever meet someone who shatters at the thought of suffering for Christ, enduring trials, denying themselves, enduring more struggles then they are not fit for the kingdom of God because the kingdom is not valuable enough for them.  Eternity with God does appeal to them and its not worth the trouble to them…

Matthew 7:6“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

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