The Pearl Merchant

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant man, seeking fine pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:45,46)

As the parable of the Mustard Seed and of the Leaven form a pair, so there is an obvious similarity in the parables of the Hid Treasure and of the Pearl Merchant. In both men sell all that they have in order to buy something else; and in both the thing purchased has in their eyes supreme value.

The note struck in this story is quieter than its partner parable. The merchant may be thought of as restrained, grave, and experienced. He has doubtless heard previously of pearls of outstanding quality, but has also found on examination that they did not possess the advertised virtues. A lifetime's experience, as he has traveled from place to place pursuing his business, has given him a trained eye and a quick judgment. He hears of a pearl of superlative quality - perhaps he smiles; he has heard that before. But it does not pay to disregard even such reports; he therefore investigates. His practiced eye at once recognizes the worth of the pearl now offered - why has he never heard of it before? The price is high, but not too high for such a pearl. He realizes his stock at a sacrifice; as he does so men wonder at his readiness to sell at the price he will accept; but the wondrous pearl becomes his.

The seeker has got to the end of his quest. So men seek for truth; they study many philosophies, learn of many human plans and schemes, yet with longing unsatisfied; then the pearl of God's message is found and while other men fail to understand the full giving to get the one thing, the purchaser experiences the feeling of a need fully met. The treasure in the field is stumbled upon; there is sudden joy at the discovery. The pearl is found after much searching; there is no reference to joy - exuberance in such a case would not be displayed; but the story breathes the abiding satisfaction which is the end of a long quest.

From: Parables of the Messiah by John Carter