For many years we lived in the country of Jordan, which is 95% Muslim and 5% Christian. My Arabic teacher, Ahmed, had heard the gospel many times, as he was a Muslim raised in a Christian environment, and he loved Jesus. Every Monday he would tell me how he spent his entire Sunday off, reading the New Testament, and he once told me that the nails were not powerful enough to hold Jesus to the cross. “It was love for us,” he said, “that kept him there.”
When our son was ready to be baptized, I begged Ahmed to go down to the Jordan River with us so that I could baptize him, but he refused stating that it was impossible. He claimed that, if he were to take that step, the Muslims might kill his wife and children. Nothing like that had ever happened before in Jordan, and it was an irrational fear, but he couldn’t be persuaded. As I have thought about it, I have realized that Ahmed’s relationship to Jesus is very, very common. He loved Jesus, but there was a limit to how far he will go for him.
Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like a pearl so valuable that a merchant sold everything that he had to own it.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:46-47
Just as the merchant was out looking for fine pearls, many people are on the lookout for truth. The cost of the Truth, though, is everything. Like many others, Ahmed found what he was looking for, but he couldn’t pull the trigger and purchase the truth by giving up all that he had. We like to say that salvation is free, but that is only in the sense that you can’t buy it with good works or through religious activity. Look again at the verse. The kingdom of heaven costs you everything.
Loving Jesus isn’t enough. The church is full of many people who love and want the pearl. They may visit the pearl every day and may talk to it and sing to it, but they don’t own the pearl, they don’t have the kingdom of heaven, until they give up everything.
“In the same way, any one of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:33
At the same time, there are those in the church who have done it—who have given up everything to own the kingdom. They also enjoy the pearl every day, they talk to it and sing to it, but they have it in their hands and it will never be taken away from them.
Main point: Loving the church, Jesus or religion, is not enough. The kingdom of heaven costs everything.
So what: Satan is a total liar. Don’t listen to the fears that he puts in your heart the way that Ahmed did. The pearl is worth everything.
Thank you friend. I always enjoy reading these. They’re always so convicting and encouraging at the same time. I have a phone conversation with frontiers on Friday.
Thanks a lot for your comment.
“The devil is a total liar!” Love it! So You. Love you!
Saw this commentary and wondered what you thought about it?
The interpretation of this parable is this: the field is the world (Matthew 13:38), the man buying the field is God, the treasure is the true believers in Christ, and the price that is paid is the very life of Jesus on the cross.
Jesus saw, through His foreknowledge (Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 1:4), a remnant of people who would receive Him as Lord. Therefore, “for the joy that was set before him,” He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2) and purchased us unto Himself with His own blood (Acts 20:28). He purchased the whole world (all mankind – 1 John 2:2), but not everyone will receive what He did. Therefore, the church is hidden (scattered among the world) today. At the end of this world, the Lord will remove His treasure (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) out of the world, and then the world and those in it who chose not to become a part of His treasure will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).
Many people interpret this parable as representing us selling all that we have to purchase eternal life. It is certainly true that Bible salvation involves total commitment on our part (Matthew 19:21; Luke 5:11, and 14:33), but that is not the point of this parable. It is important that we rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and do not intentionally misapply Scripture regardless of how accurate the point is that we are trying to make.