Matthew 13d

Matthew 13D: The Treasure and the Pearl

Again we have two short parables which are told together.  The parables are commonly known as the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price.

The first parable compares the kingdom of heaven to a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found the treasure, he hid it again and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field.

Now we know from our keys the Lord gave us to unlock the secret of these parables- the man is the Lord Jesus Himself, and the field is the world.  Therefore to understand this parable, my search must be to discover the meaning of the word- treasure. So our first conclusion is this treasure cannot be the Lord Jesus for he is the man.

My search for the word  treasure led me to Exodus 19:5 ( God speaking) –“ Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.”(NIV)  The  NKJV says ‘ ye shall be a special treasure unto Me above all the people; for the earth is Mine…”   In Deut. 14: 2 ( NIV) “ Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you ( Israel) to be his treasured possession.” In all of these the nation to whom God is speaking is Israel.

Now one more verse to verify and support this meaning of the word treasure is found in Psalm 135.  Remember Jacob had his name changed by God to Israel. (Genesis 32:28)  So we read in Psalm 135:4 ( NIV) “ For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be His own, Israel to be His treasured possession.”

Could not this be the church?  No- the word treasure is used with Israel while other words are used to describe the church- the bride of Christ, the body of Christ and as we will see the pearl of great price. Could this man possibly be a person looking for salvation?  No- the ‘man’ is consistently the Lord Jesus in these parables. In addition, we know no one goes looking for salvation; it the Lord who comes looking for us. We are drawn to Him by the Father.

Our understanding of the Old Testament calls for an understanding of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.  Israel and the Jewish people are referred to as ‘ chosen.’ Does this mean God chose the nation and the people to be blessed above others? No. When God chose the nation of Israel, He did not choose them to be a reservoir into which God poured all His blessings. He intended for the nation and the people to be a pipeline through which God would send His blessing to all of the world. They were to be a kingdom of priests to minister the message of God’s love to the whole world.  God said to Abraham- ‘ through you shall all the nation of the worlds be blessed.’

God chose these people to keep His Word, the Bible and they did a remarkable job for which we are all blessed when we open our Bibles, the Word of God they were so faithful to keep with great accuracy. God chose the genealogical line of Abraham and line of Judah and David as the human family that would give us the Lord Jesus- the Word of God, God the Son in flesh. And we are eternally grateful for this also.

Once you understand their role and the role of the nation of Israel, you realize they are God’s blueprint, outline and timeline.  If you want to know what God is up to- look at the nation of Israel.

Now here is a nation that was obviously chosen by God, a treasured possession that was buried in a field. It was uncovered- then covered again. If the field is the world, then it means it was buried in the world.  What is the meaning of this buried treasure?  For over four hundred years from the end of the Old Testament to the beginning of the New Testament and the birth of Christ- Israel was in captivity. Lost years. In fact when the New Testament opens Israel is under the yoke of the Roman Empire. A nation defeated, disgraced and buried as it were in a series of nations who  held the nation of Israel in captivity. Their temple was destroyed – then rebuilt. The rebuilt temple which was the temple of our Lord Jesus’ time on earth had become corrupt. The whole lot of them- priests, Pharisees, Saducees, the scribes had all become corrupt- greed and power and pride had turned the temple into a place of profit and moneychangers filled the courtyards. Israel was not blessing anybody. This second temple would be destroyed in 70AD, never to be rebuilt to this day, 2000 + years later.  The  Jews were in New Testament language- lost.   Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 15: 24 KJV_ “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”  ( Luke 19:9)

Now the Son of Man- the Lord  Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  The treasure in the field was discovered- then buried again. The Lord Jesus came and uncovered the treasure- Israel and displayed it. He came and performed miracles which were signs He was the Messiah.  In Matthew 12 after healing a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute- Jesus was accused of casting out the demon by the power of Beelzebub.  Listen carefully to the answer Jesus gave them:  “ But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come unto you.”

In Matthew 23, the Lord says with great sadness; “ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I would have longed to gather your children together, as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘ Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Again in Luke 19 we read the Lord’s sad statement : “ As he ( Lord Jesus) approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it, and said: “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and your children within your walls. They will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” This is how the treasure got covered back up. Buried and the people dispersed throughout the world.

Jesus revealed himself to Israel to the priests, the Pharisees, the Saducees, and they received Him not. He gave them a glimpse- he uncovered the treasure – made himself known through the fulfillment of scripture and prophecy.  But they rejected Him as the Messiah he was and is. So they rejected the cornerstone and Jesus says it clearly in Matthew 21: 43 ( NIV) “ Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” It has been re-buried since that time.

Jesus is now at the point in his earthly ministry where he begins to cover  the treasure back up with parables and stories hard to understand. The people he will give the kingdom of God to is taken from Israel and given to a people who produce its fruit.  The Gentile nations will become the Church.

So Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Israel had lost its way. It had become lost in the nations which ruled it, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, and Rome.  He revealed himself to Israel, but they did not accept him, so he covered the treasure back up- but  the man in the parable went and sold all he had and bought the field.

God has a plan and his plan is come back and reclaim his treasure. If the field is the world and the man is the Lord Jesus then we know it is the Lord Jesus who has purchased the field, the world. How did he buy it?  Peter tells us ‘ for you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold you were redeemed, but with the precious blood of the Christ, the lamb without blemish or defect.” I Peter 1.

You see Jesus gave up all that he had- the riches of heaven, and became poor that we might be rich.   God is not through with Israel. He purchased  the field and covered up the treasure that He might return and claim His rightful treasure.

Israel as a nation was hidden in the world for centuries. Israel no longer existed as a nation. Theologians and Bible scholars for centuries did not know what to think of the references to Israel in the Bible since it no longer existed as a nation. It was truly a treasure hidden in the world, long gone in the pages of history and the Bible. And then in one day in 1948, Israel became a nation again. Never had there been such an event in all of history before. Through the centuries Israel was forgotten as a nation. From the captivity of the Pharaoh in Egypt, to King Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Romans, the desolation  and the persecution under Hitler- a people whom the devil has attempted to destroy completely have survived, because God has plans for this treasure, which He will come to reclaim.

The Jews as a people have been dispersed all over the world. In fact there are more Jewish people living in NYC than in the nation of Israel.  But the Lord is coming again to reclaim his buried treasure.

So what happened when Jesus came is he presented Himself with signs and wonders, miracles and prophecy fulfillment that he was the Messiah. But they did not receive Him.  From that time their eyes were blinded , although there is always a remnant saved in each generation. This time we live in is not only called the Latter Days, it is also referred to as the Time of the Gentiles.   Luke writes in Luke 21: 24 “… and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”   And Paul writes in Romans 11: 25- “ For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” ( KJV)

God is going to keep His Word to Abraham.  It is interesting to realize the first Christians were Jews and the last Christians to enter the kingdom will be primarily Jews as God will pour out His Spirit upon the nation and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will finally do what God had intended them to do and a mighty work will be done and the Son of Man will come again and reclaim His treasure.

Now let us turn our attention to the Pearl of Great Price parable, which is told as it were, in connection with this parable of the treasure in the field.

The KJV says: “ the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man ,seeking goodly pearls; Who, when he found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Again using our keys, we must assume the man in the parables is the Lord Jesus. And for a minute let us think about the uniqueness of a pearl.  First of all the word pearl means pure.  A pearl is an interesting material. It both absorbs light and reflects it.  What is most unique about a pearl when compared to the other precious gems and materials is how it comes to be. Gold silver and even diamonds, often referred to in Scripture come from the earth. A pearl comes from a living oyster. It is formed in the depths of the seas and rivers. A foreign substance comes into the oyster. It is an intrusion into the tissue of the living oyster and its intrusion actually can be compared to a wound. The oyster, created by our Creator God, then does an amazing thing . The oyster secretes as substance known as ‘nacre’.  The nacre is laid layer upon layer around the cutting grain of sand and after a period of time, usually 3-5 years, a pearl is formed as a covering around the grain of sand.

Our sins cut the heart of God. In order to cover our sins, that wounded Him to the His very great heart, God offered salvation to cover our sins. It was the Lord Jesus’ blood that became our nacre that covered our sins. He covered our sins with His blood more precious than silver or gold. And something new that had not existed before came out of it- a new nature was created- and in God’s eyes we were pearls of great price.

His blood, the nacre for the sins of the world, continues to cover sins, layer upon layer. All our sins and all the sins of the world are against God. David said in Psalm 51- “ Against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.” Our sins affect others also, but all sin is ultimately against God.  Whenever and by whomever sin is committed it is against God and wounds His heart.  This is why Jesus dies not only for our sins, but for the sins of the world.

When we come to John’s description of heaven in Revelation 21, we see the 12 foundations, and the 12 gates and we read the description of the gates:  “ The twelve gates were twelve pearls; every gate of one pearl.” And now you know where we get the often repeated phrase of ‘ the pearly gates of heaven.’ But also we understand these Pearl Gates represent the result of God’s Grace, which was so richly and undeservedly poured out on each of  us who have had our sins covered by the precious blood of the Lamb. We enter heaven through these gates of pearl which remind us of who we are individually to the Lord Jesus: we are pearls of great price for which gave up all that he had to purchase us and make us His own.

To personalize what my sins did to the Lord Jesus, I can visualize the spear of the Roman soldier being thrust into the Lord’s Side, that is how my sin impacted Him.  It wounded Him, burst His brave heart. And out of His wounded side came the precious blood and water that began to cover my sins.

They say ‘ beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and when God the Father looks at me, not only does He see me in His Son, He also beholds the finished product- a Pearl of Great Price.

Pure. Absorbing the light of His Glory and also reflecting His glory. You might wonder what color we are as ‘pearls’ we are covered with this gleaming white robe of righteousness.“ You are the light of the world.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” ( Matthew 5)

The Parable of the Net is similar to the wheat and tares. The sons of the kingdom cast the net into the sea of humanity. All types of fish are caught in the net, good and bad. The separation ultimately will be done by the angels as in the parable of the wheat and tares. In the meanwhile the good and bad live together in this world- which is both identified as the ‘ field’ and the ‘sea’.  The KJV says this occurs at the end of the ‘world’, whereas the NIV says the end of an ‘age’.  The word used for world in Greek means ‘age.’ Notice also it says when the net is full. This would refer to the fullness of the time of the Gentiles.  This is God’s time line and only God knows when this time has come.

The last parable is a personal one for those of us who teach the Word of God. First  teachers must be instructed. Who instructs us?  The Holy Spirit, ultimately, but also we learn from others as we read to learn of their observations.  So as teachers we bring forth the old treasures, which the prophets of old, and preachers and teachers have shared with us along with new observations the Spirit brings to light.  In other words, we live and we learn as we experience God in a personal way in our journey through life with His Word as a lamp unto our feet and a light upon our path.

The chapter ends with Jesus’ return to his hometown.  The people were amazed at his teaching, his wisdom, and his miraculous powers. However, their question was- ‘ where did he get all these things?’   They bring Jesus down to their level and even below for some as he is the carpenter’s son.  He is not better than us- he is actually below us- economically and education-wise for some there that day.  Their familiarity with this person Jesus who now was doing all these things was – who does he think he is? He is one of us. And in fact, he is the carpenter’s son, Mary is his mother and we know his brothers and sisters. So Jesus stated the truth- ‘ a prophet is not without honor save in his own hometown. ‘ The chapter then ends on a solemn note:  “ And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Unbelief is the great obstruction to Christ’s works in our lives and the life of the local church. Misunderstanding is also a culprit that leads to unmet expectations.  “ For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2)

Listen as Paul gives us this excellent synopsis of what these parables are teaching us: “ In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace which He has lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” ( Ephesians 1)

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14