Day 93: April 3, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Matthew 13:45-46 Read Online


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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

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.

—Matthew 13:45-46

Willing to Pay the Price
by Taylor Johnson,

December 3, 2011 drastically changed my world. I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was a mildly warm, bluebird sunny day, around 50 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with seven of the most influential men in my life. We were smiling for a photographer in our black suits. I was getting married.

That day represents a lot for me: a new covenant relationship with my beautiful wife Jenai, the love of our families, the support of our friends, and lifelong memories. Both of our grandfathers were pastors in the Church for more than 60 years each, and we were blessed to have them officiate our wedding.

Looking back, as I stood at the altar, I remember the nervous shakes running down the length of my 5’10’’ frame as the music echoed throughout the room. I looked over at my grandpa to receive the notorious “it’s going to be okay” wink just as the doors in the back of the room opened and my bride walked down the aisle with her dad.

In that very moment, for the first time in my life, I completely understood Paul’s parallel of Christ’ love for the church and a husband’s love for his wife (see Ephesians 5:25). I realized: Wow! What a beautiful picture Paul painted in his letter to the Ephesians to illustrate Jesus’ unselfish and sacrificial love.

Recorded in Matthew 13:45-46, the parable of “The Pearl of Great Price,” Jesus taught several parables about the kingdom of God. In this parable, Jesus unfortunately didn’t provide an interpretation for us. However, we do know He taught in parables to make it easier for His listeners to understand His teachings—not to complicate them.

So here’s what we know about pearls: they were worn for adornment by affluent women (see 1 Timothy 2:9; Revelation 17:4; 18:16) and were important items of trade.

Some of the best pearls in the world come from the Persian Gulf, which isn’t too far from where Jesus was, so it makes perfect sense for Him to use them as an illustration. Over time, out of a wound, irritant, or impurity in an oyster, a beautiful pearl develops.

The common view of this parable is that Jesus represents the Great Pearl and the church represents the merchant. But this isn’t the case.

In verse 45, the merchant was seeking fine pearls. The merchant represents Jesus seeking those who would believe. As Pastor Mike Glenn says, “We don’t find Jesus, He finds us. Jesus was never lost.” I couldn’t agree more (see John 6:44).

In verse 46, the merchant “found” the one priceless pearl he was searching for. Then he sold and gave away everything he had to purchase the pearl. This represents Jesus giving all He had for us on the cross (see Philippians 2:7-8).

The merchant sought after a precious pearl and found it. He sold and gave all he had for it. I married Jenai because she was the one woman whom I was seeking. In my eyes, there are no others to compare to her, and there’s no price I wouldn’t pay for her—even my own life.

In the same way, Jesus seeks and finds us. He gave all He had to purchase us. He laid all aside for us and paid with His life. We were purchased by His death, and we’re redeemed through His precious blood.

Like the imperfections of an oyster bring an unblemished pearl, “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10), and “by His wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Reflection Questions

  1. In your life, is there anything or anyone you would sacrifice anything and everything for?
  2. What drives your willingness to sacrifice for that person? Love? Friendship? Fear of loneliness?
  3. How does it feel to know (like the pearl), that despite your impurities and failures, Jesus still seeks you and gave His life for you?

About the Author

Taylor Johnson

At Trevecca Nazarene University, Taylor graduated with a degree in Religious Studies, minoring in Behavioral Sciences. Previously, he served in the children's ministry at West Jackson Baptist Church and as a Centri-Kid Worship Leader for LifeWay Camps. He joined the Brentwood Baptist staff in 2007 as a Children's Ministry Intern and Worship Leader, then moved to his current role in August 2011. Today, he oversees KidLife and all aspects of worship in the Children's Ministry and Marketplace. Taylor is married to Jenai.