44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Usual Interpretation = a person finds Christ, realizes how valuable He is, and does whatever it takes to have Him.
There are problems with this interpretation:
….there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
The treasure and the pearl in the parables were bought.
Salvation is not of works. We cannot buy salvation. It is the gift of God!
The man sold all he had to obtain the treasure and the pearl.
What does a sinner have that is valuable enough that he can sell it and have enough to buy Christ? If even our righteousness [goodness] is filthy rags before God, then we have nothing to merit salvation.
The true interpretation is that the one doing the buying is Christ, and we, his people are the treasure and the pearl which He purchases at great cost…He gave His all on the cross! He seeks and saves that which was lost!
This fits the context. All the other parables around these speak of Christ's actions, and never ours.
Are the two parables saying the same thing? No. The treasure is Israel. The pearl is the church.
The Treasure is Israel
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure.
3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. 5 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.
In the parable, the treasure is hidden in the field. Israel is the treasure, and the world is the field. We could say it like this: the treasure is out of circulation.
Now remember, the man is Christ. When Jesus came to earth 2,000 years ago what did He find? A hidden treasure, lost in this world. Israel was in failure. Their golden era had passed, they were living under the iron fist of the Roman Empire. Their leaders were corrupt, and the people were poor and miserable.
But Israel is still God's people.
35 This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-- the LORD Almighty is his name: 36 "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me."
The Pearl is the church
There is very little to a pearl. Crush it and all you'll have is lime…ordinary chalk. The value of the pearl is how it comes into existence. It is not carved or cut like a diamond or ruby…in fact, if you cut a pearl it becomes worthless.
It is created in the heart of a living oyster, in the deep dark of the sea, as an irritant such as a grain of sand is introduced inside the shell. It begins to cut and dig in to the tender inner tissues of the oyster, and it is then that it secretes a substance called Nacre, aka Mother of Pearl. Layer upon layer is formed around that grain of sand until it is a beautiful pearl.
Think about it: the pearl is the oyster's answer to that which wounded it. The pearl owes its existence to the oyster's willingness to cover that which had cut it.
What a beautiful picture of salvation in Christ! Our part was the cutting, and God's part was the covering.
In the usual interpretation Christ is glorified because He is the treasure and pearl worth having at any price.
I think Christ is even more glorified in the interpretation I've given you. He wanted us so badly that He paid the ultimate price, His life, to purchase us.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
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