Wednesday, June 5
What A Gem!
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:44-46).
Jesus told these two parables side by side. There are some similarities and some differences. Both of them involve some type of treasure that is found. The major difference is that the man in the first parable finds treasure. In the second, the man goes looking for it.
The parables are not that difficult to understand. Jesus paints a beautiful contrast between the temporary and the eternal—true treasure and trinkets. The hidden treasure and the pearl of great value both represent the kingdom of heaven—or eternal life. Jesus tells us this. In both cases, both of these men liquidate all of their assets to get their hands on the treasure.
The ultimate point of both parables is that going to heaven is far more important than anything else we could imagine. In fact, we should be willing to give up any and all temporary, earthly trinkets for true treasure in heaven. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matt 16:26). It is beyond comprehension that someone would discover treasure and then not do what it took to obtain that treasure.
World Record Pearl
The most-valuable pearl ever found was discovered in 2006. The gem was discovered by a Filipino fisherman who discovered a giant clam. Inside the clam was a 26-inch long, 75-pound pearl!
He hid it under his bed and kept it as a good luck charm. Some time later, his home burned down, but the pearl survived and was discovered. It turns out, the pearl is valued at $100-million dollars! This fisherman kept this pearl worth $100-million dollars under his bed as a good luck charm!
In 2018, I was on a team that went into Pignon, Haiti to do a mission trip. Our team went into several, small villages to lead Vacation Bible Schools. My job was to prepare the overall Bible lessons for our team. One of the lessons we taught involved teaching and attempting to bring to life the passages above. We had fun acting out the drama and making the kids laugh.
To illustrate the pearl, one of our team members found a nice, smooth, round rock and painted it white. It was a great idea! It was big enough for everyone to see and solid white. I knew the kids would be amazed and love the visual image. I could just see them “oohing and aahing” over this giant pearl!
When I began to tell the story about the pearl, the translator looked a bit confused and then stopped translating to ask what a pearl was. He was unfamiliar with the term. I was taken aback. He then asked for input from several other translators with us. None of the translators had heard of the term before.
I was in disbelief and dismay. I never considered the fact that a pearl would not translate into Creole or that they might not know what it was. I mean Haiti is on the sea! I did my best to describe an oyster and the gem that is sometimes found inside. I’m not really sure they really ever got it. Finally, I just tried to get the point across that this was an amazing, priceless treasure.
Later that day, one of our team members just happened to look at a Haitian vehicle and the license plate and said, “look!” We were in shock to learn that right on their license plate was the phrase, Haiti: “Pearl of the Antilles.”
Understanding what a literal pearl is, is not a prerequisite to understanding true treasure. Both parables illustrate one simple fact: The greatest treasure of all is the opportunity to spend eternity in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing in this world comes close to that! The things this world has to offer can never compare to the true riches that await the believer in heaven.