A merchant man

“The Kingdom Of Heaven”
(Is Like Unto A Merchant Man Seeking Goodly Pearls)
Matthew 13:45, 46


  • Jesus said here in verse 45) Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46) Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
  • Many have preached that this parable is telling us that the “pearl of great price” is Jesus Himself. We will show where God says otherwise.
  • To understand this parable we must go to John 10: where Jesus is talking to his disciples and some Pharisees that happened upon the scene. Jesus was discussing who the Great Shepherd is and who the sheep are, and now note what Jesus said in verse 16a)…And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: Now hold it right there… “…other sheep?” Who are they? They are the Gentile nation. The Jews are if you remember correctly are His “treasure in the field” or “special people unto himself.”
  • We the Gentile nation are the “red headed step children.” Or the “other sheep.”
  • 16b“.. them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
  • After the Jews rejection of Christ… He wants the Jewish nation to see that there are now “other sheep” also in the fold, but one Shepherd. Which brings the question…

 A) What Is The Pearl? 

  • The “pearl” is the church as a whole.
  • The “great price” is the price of Christ’s blood shed on the cross for all who believe.

B) Where Does The Pearl Come From?

  • A real pearl comes from a clam, a living organism.
  • The church came from Jesus Christ, a living organism.
  • In the biblical days pearls were valued as diamonds are today. Pearl hunting was very risky (unlike today).
  • Pearl hunters favorite searches were located in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
  • Pearls would be found in those locations, but at a “great price.” Many people died trying to retrieve one pearl.
  • Their techniques were very crude in those days. They had no modern technology in diving. That is why today, pearls are not that valuable.
  • Basically, what they did was tie rocks to their body and then jump off the side of the little boat and go to the bottom of the ocean surrounded by all the dangerous fish of the sea. Once reaching the bottom of the ocean floor for only seconds at a time they would quickly scour the bottom in the mud trying to come up with those oysters, holding one long deep-drawn breath, and fearing the whole time that they may hold their breath too long and go too deep to burst and die.
  • It was almost like the California gold rush. Because once a person found out the value of the pearl after redeeming one, then their desire grew for the risk of pearl diving. They literally came at an unnamed price, incredibly valuable.
  • So valuable that the Talmud says, “Pearls are beyond price.”  So valuable were they that the Egyptians actually worshiped the pearl and this came over into Roman life.
  • So valuable were they that when women wanted to show their wealth, according to I Timothy 2:9, they put pearls on their head.
  • And it was said of one lady by the name of Lollia Paulina, the wife of the emperor Caligula, that at one event, she had $36 million worth of pearls all over her.  In fact, the historian says she had pearls on her head, she had pearls on her hair, she had pearls on her ears, she had pearls on her neck and she had pearls on her fingers.  She could have stood in for one of the gates of heaven.
  • Pliny, the historian says that Cleopatra had two pearls, each worth a half a million dollars and that was in a day when money was 20 times greater in its buying power than it is today.
  • And when the Roman emperors wanted to demonstrate their incredible wealth and show how filthy rich they were, they dissolved pearls in vinegar and drank them in their wine.
  • Note what our Lord in Matthew 7:6 says, “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.”
  • Why did He say that? Because He is trying to compare the worst with the most priceless.
  • You don’t give the most valuable thing to a pig.  That’s foolish.  Pearls were really perceived like we perceive diamonds today, very, very, very valuable.
  • Now looking at our parable here in Matthew 13:44, 45…Note “the man,” in one parable, and “the merchant man” in another. Both men invested in one commodity.
  • You talk to any wise investor and they will tell you not to put all your money into one stock. Diversify, divide up your stocks. That way you have something to fall back on in case one bottoms out.
  • These two men in verses 44 and 45 didn’t do that. Both sold all they had to purchase “the treasure,” “the pearl of great price.”
  1. The Kingdom is priceless in value. (No amount of money replaces the King’s salvation, love, purity, fellowship, and eternal bliss)
  2. The Kingdom is invisible (The world cannot see the reason why we worship, the value to bible study, the preciousness of our fellowship. They don’t visibly see it.)
    I Corinthians 2, “The natural man understandeth not the things of God, they are foolishness to him.” 
  3. The Kingdom of God is a personal appropriation. In other words, it’s a matter of the heart. It is not something you do for the church to earn salvation. It is not through lineage, or influence of the church or even God’s Word. It has to be personal, a heartfelt relationship with Jesus Christ.
  4. The Kingdom is the source of joy. The desire of every human being is to be happy, or joyous. That is why Jesus went to the cross.. “who for the joy..” Christ said in John 15:11…These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
  5. The Kingdom may be entered through different circumstances. Look at our parables The first man just comes upon the treasure. The second man knows what he wants and buys it. Paul thought he was in the kingdom and he stumbled on the road to Damascus upon a treasure. The woman at the well was just seeking water and came away redeemed. The blind man just wanted eyesight and came away with a bigger vision than ever.
  6. The Kingdom is made personal by a transaction. The kingdom is bought. It was paid for with a huge price tag. The Son Of God sacrificed on a rugged cross, left the splendors of heaven to be born in a manger. The purchase is the kingdom, the price is sacrifice. Can you sacrifice all (sell all you have) and give to the man (Jesus)? (See Matthew 10:37, and Matthew 16:24, and Matthew 19.)

C) How is the pearl formed?

  • Webster’s Dictionary defines it this way…pearl– A smooth, rounded bead formed within the shells of certain mollusks. Several layers of minerals are then composed around the irritating foreign object which creates the pearl. It is not considered a valuable gem until the layers are personally appropriated and complete, lustrous, and finely colored.
  • Get this folks The church is a “foreign object” to this world. The church is not “considered valuable” until it the members have become one, working together in unity to edify one another, love one another as Christ loved.
  • Here is another bit of info…. When that tiny grain of sand is embedded in the shell of the oyster, the oyster begins to secrete a substance that really is the very life of the oyster. The substance is secreted from the oyster around the tiny grain of sand. As the oyster produces this substance, which is what we call mother-of-pearl, it is really the “life’s blood” of the oyster that is being given out to form the pearl. As the substance is secreted, it finds it’s way around this tiny grain of sand causing great suffering to the oyster. This suffering is not simply from the sand being in the shell, but from the very life of the oyster being given out as this substance is secreted to form the pearl.
  • The church’s “life blood” is Jesus Christ. It will never become a beautiful pearl without Christ being in its center, it’s focus, it’s love.
  • This is why the church is subject unto Christ… Ephesians 5:24…Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ,

D) The Pearl Was Formed Over A Long Period Of Time

  • A pearl formed in a mollusk takes several weeks to form.
  • The “pearl of great price” to a long time to be created as well.
  • Remember… it started out “hidden.” It started out as just a “treasure.” Now it is a “pearl.”

E) A Pearl Is Beautiful To Look At

  • Almost everyone recognizes the beauty in a pearl. Hardly anyone has given a second thought to a grain of sand.
  • The Bible says that when He is finished and comes for us, we shall see Him as He is.
  • We shall be “like Him” God is not finished with this “pearl of great price” (the church). My wife is a pearl. God took his time in making my wife the perfect match for me. I did not see her inward beauty or her full beauty till God revealed it to me. Because she is not yet finished.
  • We are going to be presented to God without wrinkle, spot or blemish, without any sin as a new bride to a new groom is presented.

  F) In Review

  • 45) Again, the kingdom of heaven (Christendom as a whole, we Christians)
  •  “…is like unto a merchant man (Jesus Christ),”
  •  “…seeking goodly pearls: (seeking the true church)
  •  46) Who, when he had found one pearl of great price (The local church),”
  • “…went and sold all that he had (Sacrificed His place in heaven, His holiness),”
  • “…and bought it (With His own precious blood).”


How can we treat other Christians like a grain of sand
when Christ looks at us as a “Pearl of Great Price.”



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