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Shopping for Pearls

Alistair Huong


Christ told a parable about a merchant who sold all that he had to obtain one pearl of great price.  Why was this man willing to pay so much for such a thing?  Or is that the right question at all?  What does the pearl of great price teach us about the kingdom of heaven?


Alistair Huong

Executive Director of AudioVerse



  • May 27, 2017
    11:00 AM
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Shall we pray. For them heaven we are thankful that you are a God who sees the end from the beginning. You know that we are feeble and but dust and so you send us the Holy Spirit. So we pray for that blessing right now that you might speak to us through the agency of the Spirit through the word. That we might find the living Christ that he might sit on the throne in our hearts. We pray these things now in Jesus' name and. Some of you may be aware that my wife and I have a little hobby we have a blog and we write about personal finance It's called Saving the crumbs dot com and we are for lack of better word cheap and we are. We have a whole blog talking about how cheap we are. But that's not really what I'm talking about that's just an introduction because the message today is about shopping. Shopping. In two thousand and fifteen in the city of Geneva. A Hong Kong billionaire set a world record for purchasing the most expensive diamond by carat OK on a carrot basis it was a twelve point zero three carat blue moon diamond blue moon it might mean something to you I assume is just blue. Guess how much he spent. Forty eight point five million dollars. For a rock. I don't care what you call it I don't care what color it is. Forty eight point five million dollars for the Blue Moon diamond that was a world record it might have been. Broken by now. But the story continues that just the day previous across town at another auction in Geneva the same man the same Hong Kong billionaire bought a sixteen point zero eight carat pink diamond this one for twenty eight point five million dollars Of course the other one was the record setter So he spent a little less so in total for two rocks he spent seventy seven million dollars. But who did he buy those diamonds for. Were taught he purchased them for his seven year old daughter. I love my little girl. But she better not get any ideas. So. I like your hair action because that's most of our reaction right here some boy that we think. Such extravagance such waste we just imagine right that little girl Dad comes home hey sweetheart look what I got you. That's nice. And then she's back to playing with whatever plastic toys she got from the thrift store. So where we think of the story and we hear these numbers we think of that child we look at this and the something that doesn't connect we say this is a waste this is all or Walt's waste of money. Boy. But we think of extravagant purchases like this and of course we think oh man how much could that have done in God's work if they had gone to ministries or you know put in the. Offering plate or something but my message today. Is that according to the Bible. Listen carefully. Extravagant purchases like this sometimes are the right decision. Put another way extravagant purchase is sometimes are indeed biblical And remember this is coming from a guy who has a blog about being frugal so all the shopaholics now are sitting up in their seats TELL ME MORE All right let's take a look at our Bibles to our scripture reading Matthew chapter thirteen. We're going to be zeroing in on this parable that Jesus taught about in outrageously extravagant purchase. Scripture reading verse forty five of Matthew thirteen and. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful per. Who verse forty six who when he had found one Pearl of Great Price went and sold all that he had and bought it how much did this man spent. Everything he had. So let's do a little math together. This merchant Mand he spent what percentage of his net worth to buy that Pearl. One hundred percent Very good all right sell this Hong Kong billionaire that we were just talking about let's just suppose that he is sort of a. Low end billionaire he only has a billion dollars. I say only in quotes but you understand what I'm trying to say here for the sake of argument let's just say he only had one million dollars A billion excuse me in order to be a billionaire you must have at least a billion dollars so he only has one. Billion and he's spent seventy seven million to buy these two gemstones how much money does he have left all your mathematics are you mathematicians other I did the math. It is nine hundred and twenty three million left over. As a percentage he only spent seven point seven percent of his net worth if you only was worth a billion. To buy those two diamonds tell me is that a sacrifice. He only has another nine hundred million. But at the end of this shopping spree that we read about in Matthew chapter thirteen of this merchant man how much did he have left. Nothing. So Jesus is telling a parable here that says this man bought something worth far more he spent more money than that billionaire did on his seven year old daughter. How is this possible why would God use this as an illustration. Well verse forty three gives us the connection. The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful progress so the spiritual is giving us a relative perspective on the value of the kingdom of heaven. Is I want to dive into this parable and just zero in and figure out just what is it about this story that can teach us how we ought to look at the Kingdom of Heaven. So the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant mastic in beautiful pearls notice is who this man was he's a merchant. He's a businessman he's an investor he's not window shopping. What's the difference. What's the difference between a man. With a business background a merchant going out shopping for a pearl versus. The housewife of the wealthy person walking around and just oh that looks nice. Is there a difference in the frame of mind the perspective the manner in which the search is conducted Jesus is very clear this was a man who was intentional it was no accident he didn't come home and say Honey you won't believe what I did today. That was not what happened he went out looking for a Pearl of Great Price he was intentional and he knew what he was doing so the kingdom of heaven. Is like a precious power. And so. Have you ever gone shopping for a car. I'll just use as an example it could be a house some law are purchased. Would you walk onto the dealer's lot and say Just give me the first thing you've got. Whatever you want. With that be the frame of mind you enter in to a large purchase. What would you be doing. You'd be just pounding the keyboard right Craigslist right all the reviews Consumer Reports blue book value you negotiate you check out the features safety ratings you would think long and hard you would do the research you would leave no stone and. And because remember this thing is going to be thousands of dollars. How often do we suspend or let me put it this way how what's the relationship between them out of effort we spend seeking after the kingdom of heaven. Versus buying a car. Do we exert the same level of intensity. Of research of careful investigation to make sure we know what we are doing if we're buying a house same thing you're going to visit you're going to look you're going to do the numbers you're going to have the home inspector going to make sure that your money is not going to be wasted Jesus saying how much effort do you spend seeking after God's kingdom. This merchant man was not accidental in his discovery of this Per in the same manner no one's going to walk into the kingdom of heaven accidentally No one is going to make a commitment to Jesus on an impulse because oh look what I saw today. There is a cost to be counted there is investigation there is study there is research that is required my wife needed a new computer it was one of those instances where I came home one day and I said Deborah I think you need a computer and I think I don't need I think I'm fine I can use yours No I really think you need a computer I would love to buy you a computer I think you need one it was that kind of scenario and so around Black Friday last year and I have a spreadsheet open all the columns all the stores all the models right all the research. And that was for a computer. How intensely do we stay. More than what you said you would well here's the answer it was a seven hundred dollar computer that was worth more than a thousand. I could spend six hundred dollars and bought a computer worth six hundred or I can spend seven hundred and get one verse worth over a thousand does that change the question. All of a sudden the comparative relative value of the dollar amount and the merchandise being purchased all of a sudden it's like oh. Now I understand. And so this merchant man he would look at us if we asked. Why did you spend so much he will look at us and say Are you crazy this thing was a screaming bargain. This pearl of great prize was worth ten times one hundred times more than everything I own and all I had to spend was this much Hollywood. And why is it that we struggle with this question to begin with it's simply put we haven't done the research. You see the merchant man comes to this marketplace he looks and he knows precisely all the gems all the pearls and what their value was and when he saw that Pearl and he said that's the one it's worth X. amount instantly he knew I could sell everything I have by that and would still be a screaming bargain but for those who have not done the homework for those who have not studied intently to find the value of the kingdom of heaven will look at that and say oh that's a law. I'm not sure Jesus is worth that much. I'm not so sure about this. Because we haven't seen. We don't know the value that he is to us. But there is a logical question to be asked at this point to this man you'll say so huge. Just went home and sold everything where you going to live. What you going to eat. How are you going to clothe your kids. That is a logical question and I understand that we don't want to stretch the analogy of the parable too far right but at the same time I believe it does bring to mind an aspect of our Christian experience that we often neglect and want to look with you in the book of second Corinthians. This is something that. I often have to remind myself. To give perspective on things OK Second Corinthians Chapter four. And we are going to look beginning a verse seventeen. Second creed in chapter four in verse seventeen this is the Apostle Paul writing this is important to note because of his first line verse seventeen says for our What the Senate light affliction wait a minute wait a minute this is the guy who was shipwrecked and left in the desert in the deep who is being persecuted by as kinsfolk he was beaten and literally thought dead. And he saw him bitten by poisonous vipers Yeah you know all in a day's work right so Paul here is saying all that stuff like affliction. This gives us context OK into what he's about to say he's saying I have been through it all all of that is just. Not much minor scratch flesh wound no big deal for our light affliction which is but for a moment it is working for us a flaw or more exceeding any eternal weight of glory verse eighteen is key while we do not look at the things which are seen but at the things which Arwa. Not seen and here it is here's the key we're key phrase for the things which are seen are temporary but the things which are not seen are returned. At the time this together with the parable that we were just looking at the march in man calculated value not based on the temporal measurement of what we can see hear taste and feel. But he said I am measuring by internal weights eternal measurements of value and you say we're going to live we're going to eat or what are you going to eat what are you going to wear. But I'm thinking of eternity. The value that we are calculating here cannot be measured in earthly numbers and here we see. This statement in the book desire of a just page one fifteen paragraph two and this is why a sort of dwell on this point because we are told that since he meaning Lucifer so since Lucifer had lost heaven he was determined to find revenge by causing others to share his fault there's a great controversy we understand there is a devil in the world and he is trying to get us to fall a mat we know that but how does he do this he has a lot of tricks up his sleeves here is one trick that we are told about on this in this paragraph this he would do by causing them to undervalue heavenly things and to set the heart upon things of earth. So how what is one of the devil schemes one of his snares is to get us to be so fixated on the things of this earth where we can feel what we can touch the numbers in our bank account in our investment portfolio the land and the buildings that we can own and erect he says look at all the. Is this is it worth it to sell all vis to obtain a pearl that you can't see you can taste it it might be out there buy and buy somewhere maybe. What are you going to do. What are you going to choose and we're told here that his big plan is to help us undervalue to cause us to undervalue those things which we cannot see so we must remember Second Corinthians Chapter four the things which are there which we see are temporary but the things which are not seen are you turn I. Want to illustrate this point further. We're all familiar with Apple computers right the computer company. Who started Apple who were the founders of Apple and Steve Jobs everyone else Steve Jobs but he wasn't only guy right who's the other guy see was an AK Did you know that there's actually a third founder there's a two Steve's but there was actually a third guy who was part of the founding of Apple Computers incorporated his name is Ron Wayne. But the reason why we haven't heard much of Ron Wayne was because he sold out his stake after twelve days so he was part of the founders of Apple and twelve days later he said I can't keep up with the young whippersnappers I'm out just how much he's sold his stake for well let me tell you it was a ten percent stake in the company and how much of the seller for after twelve days. It was eight hundred dollars. You have your I have you got to the punch line yet so what. Ten per cent stake in Apple. Hooters after just twelve days at current market valuation and Apple has been on a tear lately guess how much that ten percent would be worth today. No guesses. Too many number three billion forty billion closer. Not not a trillion Not yet but. It would be worth eighty billion dollars today. Apple is currently the most valuable company by market capitalisation in the world worth approximately eight hundred billion dollars So if you own ten percent of that. Eighty billion dollars. How much of the seller for eight hundred. So I like your reaction. Because you're thinking what I'm thinking. Oh. What a shame. What a shame he sold out for eight hundred dollars What could have been worth eighty billion. But when you cut this guy some slack. He can tell the future. Most technology start ups crash and burn or he might have been the smart guy he might have made it out with a hundred dollars whereas someone else might have ended up with nothing. But here's the point we know better. He doesn't know the future but we do and so imagine what the angels will say if we. Sold out that pearl of great price for a bowl of pottage on this earth. So what of it eighty billion dollars. Can you believe that God the angels must say for only eighty billion dollars he lost eternity. And you're thinking yeah I'll never have eighty billion perhaps that's true. But how often we sacrifice the pearl of great price for something worth far less. Oh you can't believe that guy sold out on eternity because he wouldn't stop dating that girl. That young woman she was not willing to buy the Pearl of Great Price because she would rather have her career than Jesus. That gentleman he's not here in heaven because. He would rather keep what's in his refrigerator than to give it to Jesus. One day will the angels look down with the redeemed in heaven as they look through the books of heaven and say What a shame. Would they have the same reaction about us as we would about the wrong way. What is the value of this pearl to us. Are we focusing on what we can see the light affliction that we feel just is too much. Or are we willing to say oh oh Lord Jesus have it all. You can have the world but give me she's. So here we come. To this parable where we look at the merchant man willing to sell all they have to buy that Pearl and you might be saying all right you've convinced me where do I swipe the credit card to whom shall I make the check how do I buy this pearl. Let's pause a moment. Because I thing. We need to introduce some balancing thoughts that we find in scripture OK so let's go to Isaiah Chapter fifty five. This poor of all has been callous in the language of a commercial exchange someone goes to the market place to buy something all right so we go and we see this pearl we see the kingdom of heaven we pay the price and we have tain it that's sort of what the parable is saying but we need to also balance this out OK Isaiah Chapter fifty five we're going to begin in verse one. Ho everyone who thirsts come to the waters and you who have no money come buy and eat yes come buy wine and milk without money and without price why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy so see you talk about purchasing OK commercial exchange where buying something verse two Why do you spend your money for what is not bread in your wages for what does not satisfy and listen carefully to me and eat what is good and let your soul the light itself in abundance incline your ear and come to me here and your soul shall live and I will make an everlasting covenant with you the sure mercies of David So here we see in the parable Matthew thirteen he need to sell all that he had to buy that pearl but then here in Isaiah God says come by without price. Salvation is a free gift. OK Make sure you're on the same page so how do we put these two thoughts together if we have to sell everything and buy it but yet it's free. This is where I think we need to be very clear about what the Kingdom of Heaven is. The Kingdom of Heaven is not merely a place it's not merely the physical location is not a mere. Merely a you know a legal standing before God is not merely those things it includes those things but the pearl of great prize represents a purse. Represents Jesus Christ. And when you think of it in those terms all of a sudden it can no longer be simply viewed as I paid this amount and I obtain this merchandise there is an element of that that this parable is illustrating but Jesus is a person. And people all connect through relationships and so how is it possible then that salvation this kingdom of heaven this thing that we're talking about how can it be both free and so costly at the same time and I believe relationships give us the key how many men here are married and we just see. That we have a number of married men here and I think they of all people will understand this illustration. On your wedding day. Did you not. When you said I do. Did you not just sell all that you have. Took your minute. Soundalike all the women go ahead. But at the same time. Did you actually have to pay. Let's flesh this out the marriage relationship costs the spouse each spouse nothing. But yet it costs everything as an actor there's nothing I could have done to have purchased my wife's affection her love her saying yes when I proposed nothing I could have paid there wasn't a dollar amount. I couldn't have bought her anything in fact if I had gotten her seventy seven million whatever diamond she would have said no way. But at the same time when we said I do. There was a cost involved. And that cost was not a small cost it wasn't a small sum that commitment now required in Tahrir consecration Isn't that true. So when we think about the idea of the pearl of great prize being a person in Jesus now we begin to understand there's nothing we can offer him to make him love us there's nothing we can do to recommend ourselves for salvation but when we connect ourselves with him when we get married to him which by the way is really what baptism represents we take on his name we are adopted yes but we are married to Christ now there is a cost to maintaining that relationship you can call it what you will dedication devotion loyalty surrender consecration there are a lot of words you can associate with it but it doesn't cost anything but yet it cost everything. And so when we come to Jesus. When we look at this Pearl of Great Price Yes it is free but yet it cost something. You know when we talk about relationships like this I just can't help myself. To just take this a little further. When we talk about a relational commitment between husband and wife are you married women and men out there does maintaining a relationship take effort. If you say no then you're lying. But you know it goes it takes work. It takes sacrifice takes saying no to some things I want for the benefit of that other person why. Because we love that's the cause. And so why is it. When we come to Jesus. Sometimes we decide to make certain changes in our lives and those outside the church those in the church so hold your horses let's not get too extreme here. We don't want to be legal or stick. We don't want to exert all this effort but wait a minute. If it's OK to exert effort if it is admirable if it is what we ought to be doing in a marriage relationship to exert effort to maintain that relationship or connection to sacrifice for the other person why does it not OK to do that for Jesus. Oh I decided to be vegetarian Oh you don't want to be a leader or stick now but listen if there's a young man who is interested in a young woman who's a very good and he says you know what I think I'm going to you know give this lifestyle a try what are we going to do with Padam on the back attaboy Yeah that's you does being the man but when we say oh I want to be vegan because I love Jesus. But I watch you know don't want to be a fanatic. We say oh man keeping the Sabbath one day out of seven is a really OK God Understand I have to work but then a man dates a woman do they ever say what I have they'll have to spend a whole day whether. You're telling me I have to take time off my studies to spend time with her you're out of your mind we would not say that but yet we say that about Jesus all the time. Does it take effort for men to stop looking at other women sometimes yes it does and when we do that the women affirm or say you have good for you but when we say I am going to stop watching. This or that on T.V. because I love Jesus we say now you don't want to be too extreme now you've got to live life a little. You understand what I'm saying. The relationship with Jesus yes there is an element of salvation the grace is free there's nothing we can do to earn it Amen amen but if we are married to Jesus when we are committing to him through baptism that he is mine and I am this we say I Do It comes with a cost that commitment requires effort relationships require intentionality and yes sometimes it requires self sacrifice putting aside what I would prefer because of the other person and why do we do it is not because we're legal list pick is because we love the other person. And so when we come to Jesus when we buy that Pearl what we are saying is Lord I am vine all that I have is your. All of it. And while we may yes sometimes stumble and fall. We have a mediator between God and man and his name is Jesus Christ. But we don't live in this constant mentality of anything goes. Because we love Jesus. You know selling all As. It's hard to fathom sometimes. But. You know the problem for us many of us today is we want the crown but not the cross. We want the streets of gold. But we're not willing to face walk in the footsteps of Jesus lead for us in his suffering. And so Helen white in her very first vision she was taken to heaven. And under the tree of life she said. Some saints who passed to the grave before. The great disappointment you know before the whole eight hundred forty four happened and she were she was talking with them and they asked so what was the greatest trial. What was the most difficult thing you have to pass through in order to make it to this place. The Saints gathered there they thought. They scratched their heads they just tried their hardest to think of the absolute worst thing that they had to go through to make it to the tree of life and you know what these are all they can explain it heaven is cheap enough. That's all they could say. Whatever circumstances they went through did not compare with the glory of that place and so when we look at this parable this merchant man he understood that heaven is cheap enough in my cost everything I have but what is it anyway compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us there. And so as we think about this parable. Perhaps there might be some who are still not sure oh lord you're asking an awful lot. You are asking for everything yes he is. But remember this parable can be viewed another way. Jesus is also that merchant. And Jesus also went into the marketplace seeking a pearl of great price. And while yes he is the pearl of great prize that ought to move us to sell all for him he saw in us individually a pearl worth everything to him. And while we look at our situation we say Lord the cost is too. High He said no cost is too high. And how do I know. Because he paid it he did it for you for me he came to this earth and he said I'm selling all that I had. For that one. For that one individual because we're told if there were only one soul. On earth he would have come and died for him he would have died for her. Jesus saw the value in us and he considered it worth the cost of his life he sold all and lest you think it was oh he's God it took him no effort I remind you of gets. As he prayed to the Father Lord if it be possible let this cup pass from me nevertheless now my will but Vine be done Jesus sacrifice his own wishes and desires for the benefit of you and for me. So the question today really is simple. What is Jesus worth to you. How much are you willing to pay for him. He gave everything for you he's paid the ultimate price for you. What are you willing to pay for him What are you willing to do to of. This media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse or if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W dot. Org.


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