Posted by: Pastor Terry Hagedorn | May 19, 2009

The PEARL (Matthew 13:45-46)


Let us now consider the “pearl” itself, and admire the accuracy, beauty, and fullness of this figure that Christ selected for portraying His Church. First, notice its unity. “A Merchantman was seeking goodly pearls, and when he had found one pearl of great price.” Let us observe, however, that this Merchantman had several pearls. He was seeking goodly pearls, and, of course, if He sought them He found each one. Yes, Christ has several pearls. There are quite a number of distinct companies among His redeemed. The Old Testament saints is one, and so on. But attention is here focussed on “one pearl” in particular: the unity of God’s saints of this present dispensation is what is referred to. “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female, for we are all one” (Gal. 3:28). Now, it is a significant fact that a pearl is the only gem whose unity cannot be broken without destroying it. I may take a diamond and cut it into two, then I have two diamonds. I may take a lump of gold and divide it into two, and I have two lumps of gold. But if I take a pearl and cut it into two, I have nothing: I have destroyed it! A pearl significantly stands for the unity of the saints of this present dispensation.

In the second place, a pearl is the product of a living creature, and it is the only gem that is. Not only so, but it is the result of suffering. Away down in the ocean’s depths there lives a little animal encased in a shell; we call it an oyster. One day a foreign substance, a grain of sand, intrudes, and pierces its side. Now, God has endowed that animal with the faculty of self-preservation, like He has all others of His creatures, and it throws out, exudes, a slimy substance called nacre and covers the wound, repeating the process again and again. One layer after another of that nacre or mother-of-pearl is cast out by that little animal on the wound in its side, until ultimately there is built up what eventuates in a pearl. So that a pearl is the product of suffering. How wonderful the figure! How accurate the emblem! The Church, the saints of this dispensation, are the fruitage of the travail of Christ’s soul. The pearl, we may say, is the answer to the injury that was inflicted upon the animal. In other words, it is the offending particle that ultimately becomes the object of beauty: that which injured the oyster becomes the precious gem. The very thing that injured the animal, the little grain of sand that intruded, is ultimately clothed with a beauty that is not its own and covered with the comeliness of the one that it injured. How manifestly is the Author of the Bible and the Savior of our souls the Regulator of everything in nature. Yes, He saw to it, when He created the oyster, that it should furnish an appropriate type and figure of His Church.

In the third place, the pearl is an object that is formed slowly and gradually. It does not come into existence in a single day. There is a tedious process of waiting while the pearl is being slowly but surely formed. And so it has been with the Church. For nineteen centuries now that, of which the pearl is the figure and type, has been in process of formation by the power and grace of God. Just as the oyster covered the wound in its side and that which pierced it with one layer after another of the beautiful nacre, constantly repeating the process, so out of each generation of men on earth God has called a few and added them to that Church which He is now building for His Son.

In the fourth place, notice the lowly origin of that which is a type of the Church. That beautiful pearl originally had its home in the depths of the sea, amid its mire and filth, for that is where oysters congregate. They are the scavengers of the ocean. Down in the ocean’s depths, amidst the mire, is that precious gem being formed. What a lowly origin! Yes, and that is to remind us, and to humble us with the remembrance of it, that we, who have by sovereign grace been made members of Christ, had by nature our origin in the filth and mire and ruin of the fall. Compare Ephesians 2:11, 12.

In the fifth place, the pearl, as it is being formed down there in the ocean’s depths, is not seen by the eye of man. It is a secret formation; none but God witnesses its building up. In like manner, that Church which Christ is now building, that body of His which is now in process of formation, is unknown and unseen by the world. I am not speaking of the visible churches, I am talking about that Church, which is now being built (see Ephesians 2:21; 4:16, etc.), and which as it is being formed, like the oyster, is unseen by the eye of man. Your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). Significant, too, is the fact that just as the pearl is found not in the mines of earth, but in the sea, so the Church of this dispensation is composed mainly of Gentiles—the “waters” figuring such, see Revelation 17:15.

In the sixth place, we learn from this figure that in the eyes of God that Church is an object of value and beauty. That little object, hidden from the eyes of men, is being fashioned into a precious gem, which shall yet reflect the light of heaven and become an object of beauty and admiration in the eyes of all who see it. Turn to 2 Thessalonians 1:10, “When He shall come to be glorified in His saints (not only in Himself), and to be admired in all them that believe.” That is speaking in the language of the pearl. First, the Lord Jesus will “present to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but it shall be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27); second, when He returns to the earth itself, He will bring with him His complete and beautified Church and it will be an object of admiration to all who behold it. To a wondering universe Christ will yet display His glorified Church.

In the seventh place, see how in the figure Christ here selected, we have an intimation of the honorable and exalted future that the Church is yet to enjoy. That little object in the ocean’s depths, unseen by the eye of men, which is being gradually built up, ultimately has a position and a place in the diadem of the king. That is the destiny of the pearl of great price: it becomes the jewel of royalty; for this it has been made. And so we are told, “When Christ, our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). And again, “That in the ages to come (that is yet future) He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us” (Eph. 2:7). Ah, my friends, many of God’s people today may be poor and despised and hated by the prominent and great of this world, but just as surely as the pearl of great price of lowly origin ultimates in a position of dignity and honor and glory, so those who now are last shall be first.

In closing, let me sum up in two words of practical application. First, to the unconverted. O my unsaved friend, let this parable show you once and for all the utter impossibility and the needlessness of attempting to purchase your salvation, of seeking to win God’s approval by some works and doings of your own. The pearl in this parable is not a Savior whom the sinner has to “buy.” “By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God . . . not of works lest any man should boast.”

And what is the word to those of us who by the grace of God have been saved? This: the pearl has been purchased by Christ: we are the purchased property of another! You are not your own, but “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). To what extent is that Divine truth regulating our lives? How far is that fact dominating our daily walk? We are not our own; we belong to Christ! Do we realize that? Are we living day by day as though we realized it? Does our walk manifest it? Not our own—the property of another! Then should we not say, “For me to live is Christ?” Can any of us truthfully say it? “For me to live is Christ?” Is it true that I have only one aim, only one desire, only one ambition; all my efforts concentrated on the honoring, obeying, magnifying of Christ? O my friends, the poor preacher cannot honestly say it. By the grace of God he may say that is his desire. But O how far short he comes of attaining to it in his daily life. May God help all His people to realize in their souls that they are not their own: no longer free, no longer have the right to plan their own life, to say what they will do or what they will not do: no longer any whatever—the purchased property of Another. Our answer to that ought to be, “For to me to live is Christ.” O may Divine, enabling grace be granted to us so to live!


%d bloggers like this: