Matthew 13:44-58: The Pearl of Great Price
February 9, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
More parables, with a final description of what took place after them—“A prophet is not without honor except in his own hometown” (13:57). The first parable is of a treasure hidden in a field (13:44). A man discovers it and then sells everything he has to buy the field. The point is that this treasure, this kingdom, is so valuable that it is worth everything to get it. The second parable, the pearl of great value (13:45-46), makes the same point in a different way: the pearl, the treasure, is worth everything to get.
The parable of the net (13:47-50) is of fishing—the picture is of someone, after fishing, sorting out the good fish into one set of containers, and throwing out the bad. The point is that at the end of the age, there will be a separation of the evil from the righteous. The evil will go to hell, into the “fiery furnace,” where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Beware, do not take the realities of eternal destiny lightly.
The last parable is about the teacher (13:52), or scribe, who has been trained in the ways of the kingdom of heaven, who is like a master of the house who brings out of his treasure store what is new and what is old. Those who understand how the Scriptures are fulfilled in Christ, in the kingdom of heaven, will teach from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and be able to bring both that teaching from the Old into Christian focus in the New.
Now Jesus goes “to his hometown” (13:54). He teaches in the synagogue, and they are astonished at him—but not in a good way. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?” (13:54). In other words: who does he think he is! Isn’t this Mary’s son? Didn’t we see him walking around here as a young child! He’s just a carpenter’s son! (13:55-56). They “took offense at him” (13:57).
How can this be? How can it be that his own hometown rejected him? Because “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household” (13:57). When you have known someone since they were “in diapers,” it is more difficult to take them seriously when they rise to prominence. Similarly, those who are called to preach may find it harder to gain a hearing—sometimes—among those who have known them when they were so much younger.
But even more telling is Matthew’s interpretation of these oblique words: Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith (13:58). This is the real issue; to receive Jesus’ teaching means receiving him, trusting him, believing him. Without that, there is no receptivity to what Jesus is doing, and he will not (as he himself advised) cast his pearls before swine.
Let us then be sure not to sneer at the Bible because of its familiarity but join its teaching and Christ’s preaching through the Scriptures. And as the Scriptures point to Christ, with our own faith, be open and surrender to God. In a sense, what is required is that we realize that he is the pearl of great price, and we give whatever it takes to receive him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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