Jesus uses another parable to teach us something about the Kingdom of Heaven. In Matthew 13:45-46 he says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he found a pearl of great value, he went out and sold everything he had and bought it.” A popular interpretation of this parable suggests that the pearl of great value represents heaven and the only way we can obtain it is by selling everything we own. Others get a similar interpretation but suggest that Jesus is the Pearl of Great price and we can’t have him and his salvation unless we sell all we own or give everything we have to obtain it. One commentator says that the Pearl is our salvation, which is similar to saying the Pearl is heaven. He writes, “The complete surrender of all possessions is the essence of salvation. It is, ‘I give up everything. I deny myself. I offer my life, both in terms of death, if need be, and in terms of obedience in life.’” He goes on to say that we can claim this great prize as our own “…by denying ourselves, picking up our cross daily, and following Him.” In my humble opinion, this puts Christianity in the same camp as every other religion in which salvation is matter of our own efforts and our own works. I have no good news (Gospel) to share if I have to share that message.

But, according to J. Vernon McGee, you and I are the Pearl! He writes, “The correct interpretation of this parable reveals Christ as the merchantman. He left His heavenly home and came to this earth to find a pearl of great price. He found lost sinners and died for them by shedding His precious blood. He sold all that He had to buy us and redeem us to God.” McGee quotes 2 Corinthians 8:9 here about how Jesus was “…rich, yet for your sakes became poor…” to explain Paul’s view of the Gospel as presented to the Corinthians. I think of Jesus’ own words about his mission to “seek and to save the lost.” He is the “seeker” of the souls of men who are precious in His sight. McGee then looks at the development of the pearl itself inside the sea creature. It’s a speck of dirt or sand. But the host accretes a substance that surrounds the speck over and over until it’s of great value. Jesus saw our sinful lives, an intrusion into his perfection, took them to the cross of Calvary where he accretes us with His love and coats us with His righteousness. See: McGee, J. V. (1991). Vol. 34: Thru the Bible commentary: The Gospels (Matthew 1-13) (electronic ed.) (194–196). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

McGee looks then at the gates of heaven as described in the book of Revelation and says, “Notice the emblem on the outside of the city—the gates are made of pearls! That is no accident, friend; it is planned that way by Christ’s design. He is the merchantman “Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Thankfully, Jesus did not see us as the speck of sinful sand that we were, but as the precious pearl we would become. This is good news that can be shared and received with great joy! This great truth transforms believers through a lifelong process of spiritual growth into the perfect character of Jesus which will one day be fully realized in the Kingdom of Heaven where we will finally see Him and become like Him.