44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.
45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
Matthew 13:44-46 NLT
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure, like a pearl of great value… Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Man, King of kings and Lord of Lords, is the Treasure; He is that Pearl of great value! Now, when the merchant and the man discovered this great Treasure, (Jesus), what did they do? They sold everything they owned, so they could get that treasure. There was nothing more important to them than getting that Treasure, the Pearl of great value. Likewise, nothing should be more important to us than Jesus, our Pearl of great value…
23 Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:23-27 NLT
These words of Jesus are offensive to most people, including we, who call ourselves Christians. Instead of trying to follow Jesus on our own terms, we must do as He says…
23 Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.
John 14:23-24 NLT
Do you love Jesus? If you do, you will obey Him. If you don’t obey Him, then you don’t love Him. Do my words sound harsh? They’re not my words. Jesus said they’re not even His own words, but those of His Father.
Before you take offense at what I’ve written, I should let you know that it’s taken me almost a week to write about this Pearl of great value, because I’ve had to deal with the fact that I haven’t been treating Jesus like the Treasure He is, for far too long…
Father, please forgive me for giving up on You. Forgive me for doubting, Lord, help my unbelief! Please forgive me for ignoring You, Lord, my Pearl of great value. Forgive me, Lord, for trying to live on my own terms, and for refusing to carry my cross daily, following You. Forgive me, my Lord, for trying to hang on to my life as I wanted it to be, instead of giving it up for Your will, instead. Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love. According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions, and cleanse me from my sins. Against You, and You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are just when You speak, and blameless when You judge…
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You!
As we study this parable about the treasure and the pearl of great value, the story of the rich young man immediately came to my mind. Do you remember how the young man questioned Jesus about how to obtain eternal life?
17 As Jesus was starting out on His way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to Him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Mark 10:17-22 NLT
This man seemed to do everything right. He obeyed all of God’s commands, but when he stood before (Jesus) the Pearl of great value, he failed to recognize His worth. Although he was willing to obey God’s law, he was unwilling to give up his earthly treasures, unlike the merchant and the man, who discovered the buried Treasure and the Pearl of great value. Jesus, who felt genuine love for this man, even tried to make everything clear to him, saying that if he sold everything, he would have Treasure in heaven, but the man failed to recognize the Treasure (Jesus) speaking to him… and so, with a sad look on his face, the man walked away from the greatest Treasure he could ever hope for, because he already had so many possessions that he couldn’t bear to part from…
23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:23-27 NLT
Hear me now… People throughout the world are seeing Jesus’ miracles, signs and wonders, even in this day and age, while here in the United States, we see few, if any. Do you wonder why this is? It is because we already have so many treasures of our own, that we don’t hunger or thirst for that Pearl of great value. Even the poor of this nation, (and I am counted among the poor) are not truly poor in comparison to the rest of the world…
You see, though I have very little money to live on each month, it is still more than others around the world have… I still have plenty of food to eat… I have a car (it’s old, but it’s paid for, and it runs)… I have a computer… I have medical care when needed… Do you see? In this nation that I love, I lack for nothing that I need, and I praise God for that.
Yet, this fact remains. My poverty is not poverty as the world knows it. Because all of my needs were met when I was able to work, and now they are met by the government, to whom do I run, first, when another need arises? Who am I depending on? When my back pain became unbearable, did I turn to Jesus first? Or did I turn to the doctor? When the doctors could offer me no help for the pain, and offered instead, a very risky surgery that could do more harm than good, was I angry with the doctors? Or did I get angry with Jesus, that Pearl of great value, who still hasn’t healed me in the last four or five years?
Until right now, I haven’t even admitted this to myself. I stopped asking Jesus to heal me, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if He didn’t. So, I became more and more depressed, for the last four years, and my faith began to shrink. I just gave up on the great Treasure. Now, instead of praying regularly, I seldom bothered to talk to Him. Instead of enjoying His presence, I wallowed in my pain. Unlike Job, when I lost my health, I also lost much of my faith… much of it, but not all of it.
For the God who saved me many years ago, remained faithful to me, in spite of my unfaithfulness. Though I had lost hope in Him, in His great mercy, He restored my hope. Then, as I began this study, about the great Treasure, I was convicted, because I have neglected this Pearl of great value. How could I write about this great Treasure, when I have failed to fully appreciate His value?
For almost a week, I watched TV, played video games, and did what I could, to ignore this study. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had not treated Jesus as the great and wonderful Treasure that He is. Then, yesterday, as I tried to nap, I heard a still small voice whispering to my spirit, and reminding me of other times when He’s healed me. In 2004, I had a hyperactive thyroid that was so bad, the doctor was talking about doing a procedure to burn out my thyroid gland. I was taking blood pressure medicine, and still my blood pressure was through the roof. I shook with tremors constantly. My heart rate was super high, and I suffered many other symptoms because of it, but I remember praying for God to heal me one night at church, and He did! To this day, my thyroid is normal, and so is my blood pressure, heart rate, etc.
As I thought of how the Lord has healed me in the past, I felt His presence strongly, and felt as though He was saying, “Trust Me. Ask Me to help you, and believe that I can and I will do it for you.” I had stopped asking Him to heal my back several years ago, after living with the pain for more than a year, because I couldn’t bear the thought of asking Him for this, and being disappointed. Instead, I chose to live with no hope, and without hope, there is only disappointment…
Then I began to wonder, “What if I’m the one who keeps derailing me? What if God is ready to heal me, but I keep giving up on Him, before He can act? What if He chooses not to heal my back? Does this in any way devalue Him? Is He not still, the great Treasure? Isn’t He still the Pearl of great value?”
There is much more to this study, but for today, I leave you with this thought… Is Jesus your great Treasure? Is He your Pearl of great value? Or do you, like I have done, treat Him as something of much lesser value?
Cheryl A. Showers