Who or What does the Merchant Represent? Who or What does the Pearl Represent?

(99% of People Miss This)

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.”  – Jesus

Christ was fond of speaking in parables, although His listeners often got frustrated, preferring the simple explanation instead, asking “Why do You speak in parables?” 

Human history demonstrates an intense longing for discovery. Hide and seek for instance loses all intrigue if the one hiding goes undiscovered. We have an innate sense that anything worth having is worth the time and effort necessary to seek it out. 

Before reading further, you must stop here and determine for yourself what Jesus was referring to in Matthew 13:45-46, otherwise you too will miss out on the joy of discovery. As Marcel Proust observed, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything he had and bought it.”  – Jesus

The majority of answers go along the following lines, including the overwhelming number of Bible Commentaries:

It is the person who is the merchant, who at all costs must seek out Christ or seek out the Gospel; in which case He is the finest of pearls, even if it means abandoning everything one has at his or her disposal. After all, who would not gladly forfeit all the riches of this world in exchange for the immeasurable riches of Christ? A refusal to do so would be utterly unwise and foolish.

While those sentiments are certainly true, that’s not what Christ was referring to. For instance, what in the world does the natural man or natural woman possibly possess that could be sold in order to purchase the invaluable Gospel of Jesus? Next comes the question of who is ultimately seeking out whom. The story of a wee little man named Zacchaeus serves as a case in point. As the wee little man climbed a sycamore tree to seek out the Messiah, he had already been sought: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Christ Jesus Himself is the Merchant. Prior to His appearing to us as One of us, hence the Christmas Story, He was the Crown Jewel of all Creation with the entirety of the created order under His dominion. And yet, because of the great love by which He loves you, He willingly laid it all aside in exchange for you His bride. You then are that fine pearl deemed so priceless (in fact His followers are “masterpieces” in His eyes), He lovingly paid for you with His very life:

“Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:6-8

George Eliot observed, “We are all humiliated by the sudden discovery of a fact which has existed very comfortably and perhaps been staring at us in private while we have been making up our world entirely without it.” There’s no need to be humiliated by missing the point of the parable. There is however a reason to be humbled by the point of the parable. Its message must change us. In fact, the introductory verses prior to the Philippians verses above teach as much: “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

This Christmas may you experience the fullest richness of the Season by greatly valuing the Merchant, while marveling how greatly He values you. After all, “A mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Oliver Wendall Holmes