Going! Going!! Gone!!!
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
The fifth parable in Matthew 13 (buried treasure) emphasized the supreme worth of Jesus’ Kingdom. The sixth parable (priceless pearl) reinforces the theme.
Had Jesus told the parable of the priceless pearl today, He probably would have spoken of our most valued gem, the diamond. In Jesus’ day, diamonds were hard to mine, and not dealt in extensively. Pearls were the highest-priced gem.
In the ancient world, pearls were the toys of the rich. The wife of Roman Emperor Caligua wore pearls in her hair, on her ears, neck, wrists, and fingers.
One way the rich would flaunt their wealth was to dissolve a pearl and drink it in the presence of onlookers. Cleopatra did this with a million dollar pearl, drinking to the health of Marc Antony. (I hope she got indigestion.)
We humans were created to love the beautiful. According to the parable of the priceless pearl, the world’s most remarkable beauty is the Kingdom of Jesus.
Matthew 13:45-46 (Holman) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.”
Pearl merchants made a living through buying and selling multitudes of pearls. They endlessly sought well priced pearls they could sell for a profit.
Jesus told of a merchant whose cycle of wheeling and dealing again and again ended when he found a priceless pearl. The man stopped dead in his tracks.
An expert, he immediately recognized the pearl’s inestimable value. He had handled and enjoyed multitudes of pearls, but when he discovered the priceless one, he suddenly became dissatisfied with every other pearl he had ever seen.
Don’t miss the point of Jesus’ parable! Life contains many fine things; only one is supreme. One possession alone is worth more than all others combined.
Other pearls are valuable, but even if you add up all their impressive worth, a price tag could still be attached to the whole lot. Only one pearl is priceless.
Life’s chief blessing is found in the Kingdom of God. When we have Jesus, we have the priceless pearl. Life with Him is priceless, not only because of its future Heavenly reward, but also due to the benefits it provides us here and now.
Why can we claim God’s Kingdom is the ultimate good? Because all else this life offers can satisfy only parts and little corners of our hearts. Only knowing Jesus can fill us wholly. Jesus is the only treasure that can completely satisfy.
We fool ourselves by thinking we can find enough fulfillment in one realm of life to bring satisfaction to all of life, but this does not happen. Even when we fill one compartment of our life totally full, it doesn’t spill over into other areas.
For instance, we can fill up our money jar, but its satisfaction doesn’t spill over into the contentment jar. Robert Thompson owned 180 newspapers and was worth $300,000,000. Asked how much he would give to buy the New York Times, he said, “I’d mortgage my soul.” Are we still surprised if we hear of rich people whose lives are falling apart? Money is a pearl satisfying their money jar, but it satisfies nothing else. All the other compartments in their life remain empty.
We can repeatedly have fun, beat boredom, and fill up our slot of adventure, yet still feel empty in the fulfillment category. Sir Galahad, noblest knight of the Round Table, enjoyed thrills and conquest. This filled his adventure box, but not the other compartments. He found no rest, for he yearned to find the Holy Grail.
We can succeed to the hilt in our art and music box, yet be eaten up with guilt in our conscience box. We can be over the top in literature and education, and have earned all kinds of degrees, but at the same time be totally empty in our family box: splitting up, estranged siblings and children, constant yelling at home.
We can be whizzes at science and technology, we can have all kinds of stuff and gadgets, but at the same time be totally empty in the peace of mind box. All the beeps, bells, games, and gadgets can’t silence the agitation gnawing inside us.
We can fill up the fame box, be known by all, but be desperately lonely, unable to bond and form close relationships. Many are famous, but lonesome.
As we evaluate the compartments in our life, all are good. Each is a pearl of value. But filling any one of them does not bring fulfillment to the other areas. The priceless pearl, though, brings fulfillment touching every compartment of life.
A man said if he were to write a soul winning tract, he would title it, “Are You Satisfied?” and then tell how Jesus is the only answer to all the discontents that torment our world. The money jar can’t give contentment, but Jesus can. He takes away the excessive cravings, helps us desire only needs, not wants. Fun can’t produce fulfillment, but Jesus can. He deals with us at our deepest levels of personhood, teaching us who we are, what we are, how much we can accomplish.
Art and music can’t ease conscience; Jesus can. In His shed blood, people find forgiveness beyond imagination; guilt is removed. Education can’t heal our families; Jesus can. He teaches us what our roles are to be as spouses, children, and siblings. He tells us how to fill the roles and how to treat each other at home.
Technology can’t give us peace of mind; Jesus can. He replaces agitation with rest; in knowing Him our deepest fears are relieved. Fame can’t give us relationships; Jesus can. He shows us how to love, to win the affections of others.
The man in our parable chose to forsake all the good pearls in order to have the priceless pearl. He was willing to do anything to personally appropriate it.
I titled this sermon, “Going! Going!! Gone!!!”, having in mind a double application, one positive, one negative. On a positive note, the title pictures a merchant who at an auction sees a priceless item of value, and keeps bidding until he gladly hears the auctioneer say in his direction, “Going! Going!! Gone!!!”
The title negatively pictures a merchant who at an auction sees a priceless item of value, but doesn’t want it bad enough to sacrifice all to have it. He turns away, and as he leaves, the auctioneer says about him, “Going! Going!! Gone!!!”