These two parables present a very different picture to us than the preceding ones. As we review the preceding four we are inclined to ask, “Is the kingdom of heaven a failure?” The picture drawn by the Lord up to this point is a dismal one. What commenced as a magnificent and majestic movement gradually became corrupted as tares appeared among the wheat, as professors sheltered in the branches of the mustard tree, as the professing church hid the leaven in the meal which climaxed in the denial of the fundamentals of the faith. The result of all this is Christendom on the professing church in its present state of doctrinal chaos, worldliness, divisions and errors.
The question now naturally arises, “Is the kingdom of heaven a failure?”
One must admit that the present view of Christendom is dismal and discouraging. The picture of the natural man is one of complete failure. The Church is involved in politics, hunger marches, anti-war demonstrations—all kinds of protest movements, but they have neglected their great commission to preach the Gospel to all people. Psalm 73:16-17 says, “When I sought to understand this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I.” In order to see the issue as God sees it, we must go to Him and allow Him to teach us something of the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (see Ephesians 1:18). This revelation is not for the crowd, but for His own people.
The Scriptural Meaning of the Parables
The parables of the treasure and the costly pearl have been interpreted in various ways. The most popular interpretations are listed below.
1. Christ is the treasure and the pearl, and we must sell all that we have to possess Him.
2. The man is the Lord. He is the One who sells all that He has to obtain the treasure and the pearl. In each case, He must become poor to gain possession of that upon which He had set His heart.
The main difference with those who interpret the man as being the Lord and those who do not is that they disagree on what the treasure and the pearl represent. Some even say that the treasure is Israel and the pearl is the Church and vice versa. Now that we have explained to you the generally accepted interpretations, let us determine what the parables mean in their context.
The First Parable: The Treasure
The first parable concerning the treasure, which was no doubt made up of various precious things (such as coins and jewels) represents the individual aspect of Christ’s redemptive work.
The Second Parable: The Pearl of Great Price
The second parable is but one object, a pearl of great price. This represents the collective aspect of the redemptive work of Christ. We believe that the parables teach different aspects of the same truth; the treasure and the pearl represent all whom He has purchased with His own blood.
We find double symbolism in the two things that are emphasized:
1. The costliness of the treasure or pearl.
2. The delight of the purchases.
Now let us consider the man who bought the treasure and the pearl. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. For a description of Him, see Colossians 1:15-19 and also Philippians 2, where God is highly exalted.
- He is “God over all, blessed forever” (see Romans 9).
- He is the Creator, upholder, and sustainer of all things.
What did he do? He sold all to buy the field and gain possession of the treasure and pearl (see John 3:16).
2 Corinth. 8:9 says, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are to be seeking the treasure.
Ephesians 5:25 says, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it.” We are to be “seeking the pearl.”
Philippians 2:5-8 says that He, “Who being God…humbled Himself—and became obedient to death - even death on a Cross!”
Matthew 13:44-46 say that he sold all that he had.
Isaiah 52:14 states that “His visage was marred more than the Sons of men.”
Psalm 129:3 says, “The plowmen plowed my back they made long their furrows.”
Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was wounded (tormented) for our transgressions.”
Matthew 27:45 says, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.” This is the merchantman and this was the cost. “Were the whole realm of nature mine […]”.
Psalm 69:1-2 says, “Save me oh God, for the waters are come into my soul. I sink in deep mire where there is no standing; I am come unto deep waters where the floods overflow me.” “My God, my God why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Is the kingdom of God a failure?
Was the death of Christ in vain?
If the parable of the recovered treasure is “God’s view,” then the parable of the purchased pearl is “faith’s view.” Ephesians 5:27 says, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” A pearl is displayed to be admired.
Ephesians 2:7 says, “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Then in verse 10 we see that we are His workmanship, His masterpiece. In Ephesians 3:10 it says that, “He will show unto holy angels and powers through the Church the manifold wisdom of God.”