7/25/99, P9A

“The Pearl”
Matthew 13: 45 & 46

ome things are so costly that they absorb everything else.

John Steinbeck captured the intent of Jesus’ parable about a pearl of great price in his novel entitled, The Pearl. Kino, a poor Mexican pearl diver was living a happy albeit spartan life with his wife and child. Then he found a magnificent pearl, “The Pearl of the World,” it was soon called. He was elated, at first; but then he began to be besieged by dishonest pearl merchants, and envious neighbors. Even a greedy doctor tied his medical treatment of their baby when it was bitten by a scorpion to the possible acquisition of the pearl of great price. After a series of disasters, Kino went back to the sea and threw the pearl back into the depths. Some things are so costly that they destroy everything else.

Atlanta hosted the Sports Collectibles International Convention this week and we read stories in the newspaper about folks coming from all across the world to pay ridiculous prices for baseball cards, football jerseys, and even a baseball autographed by the Pope. I never heard what the final bid was, but the bidding started at ten thousand big ones.

A grocery store clerk drove from Richmond to complete his collection of little bobbing head papermache football babies. He paid $ 135.00 and $ 150.00 to complete his collection of forty six.. Well maybe that’s OK, if its his hobby, and he enjoys it, if he can one day in retirement recoup his investment, and if his five grand investment did not take shoes off his baby’s feet. Lets further excuse ourselves and say that many of us collect diverse stuff. Once I told a lady that I collect and restore old fountain pens and she looked at me seemingly confounded and replied, “Well I think I will start collecting old can openers.”

All of us have chased after the wind and inherited a whirlwind. But has it cost too much? Has that imitation pearl stolen away the only pearl that is more valuable than anything else?

Jesus parable of the pearl is drawing an analogy between The Pearl and that one thing that we must have before having anything else.

“... the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Jesus is not so much talking about our hobbies, or even about how we handle our money; rather, he is painting a picture of our personal priorities. What matters most? As long as Christ and His Kingdom is first place other things have a way of finding their rightful place.

The tragic death last week of John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife and sister in law has underscored what Jesus was talking about. The young Mr. Kennedy left a net worth of approximately fifty million dollars; and notice I said he left it, for that’s what we do whenever we die, we leave everything material behind. Even his body is now cremated and the ashes sent back to the sea. We all hope that these three beautiful young people all had possession of The Pearl: The Kingdom of Heaven.

The Rich Young Ruler who came to Jesus seeking eternal life was told that he must first be willing to sell everything he had, and then come and follow him, in order to take possession of this one thing. But the wealthy, young man in his prime, who had political prospects and power, went away sad because he was not willing to do so. (see Matt. 19: 16-20).

Now how do we find our own pearl? Do we do like the school teacher that we read about this week in the newspaper who was fired because she promised her students extra credit if they would bring her Beanie Babies. (It sounded much like the apple on our teacher’s desk.)

The metaphor that Jesus used is not perfect (no analogy ever is just right.) The fact is we do not so much find the Great Pearl/The Kingdom; as it finds us. In the final analysis, it is usually the naturally occurring pain and terror of life that is used by God to speak to our hearts. As Paul said in his Second Letter to the Corinthian Church, “...he consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (v. 1:4).

I consider myself very fortunate to have realized early on in my ministerial career that the highest calling is that of the Pastor. Thus, I have never been consumed by the passion of politics. As a young minister I saw men chase after the office of bishop, and only one or two actually getting elected, and the others left feeling lik failures for not having achieved their pearl.

We find the pearl along the wayside as we follow Him in Discipleship. We sell all else, or at least we are willing to put secondary things in secondary categories, as we learn about the one who is meek and lowly of spirit. No matter what our vocation is in the job world, our great joy is found in doing His will for our lives. When we realize that our lives, and our hope of eternal life, is in His hands then other things do not matter so much. There will come a time when nothing else matters but the assurance of heaven that He implants in our hearts.

I was reared by a mother who had a plaque on her bedroom wall which read, “Only this life will soon be passed, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” (author unknown). He helps us by extending salvation, and its assurance, and as we begin to follow Him, along the way we realize that we possess The Pearl--- The Hope of Glory!

But there are still some other things that cost so much of our time and
talents, that they destroy the one thing we really need.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

7/25/99, P9A