If anything at all, isn’t it meant to be a piercing point here Jesus makes by way of parable, by way of a man, of a merchant, of a pearl? We read of a trader on a mission for fine pearls, who finds one of great value, sells all to attain it, and in his effort, finds himself no longer a merchant, but now the possessor of a magnificent and valuable pearl. He has stepped aside from all to obtain what he most wanted.
I opened with an indecisive question as I did because read in this light, what this merchant does is nothing to really marvel about. He believes he is getting the better end of the deal. You and I seek the same kind of transactions everyday. We will all part from our stuff, even in bulk, to get what we truly want. In our very nature it is what we do; we want a great bargain.
It ‘is’ piercing though because it insinuates an obvious counter-conclusion. We will not part with what we have for what we deem is a lesser value, or if we cannot see the greater value in the trade.
Regrouping for a tad of past interpretation, in this parable, some would infer Jesus speaks only of himself, that he is the merchant on mission willing to part with everything to purchase this pearl, and by this, meaning that those he came to save are a valuable treasure to him, more precious than the glory he forsook to purchase it.
Others will apply it to ‘whosoever’ will enter the kingdom will do so by relinquishing hold of the worldly goods for the wonder of a gracious gospel; life in the kingdom. It is this very interpretation however that might be the demise of most of western culture. Simply ask, how many do I know who have traded in everything to follow Jesus; better still, ask the question personally, such as, “Have I?”
I think the ultimate question this parable demands an answer to is rightly asked, “Are we willing to step aside from all we have to obtain what we want (A-J Levine)?” It will make no difference if we apply it to Jesus, “he did,” or us, “have we?”
I also think it is okay for the parable to prompt an equally important question, “What do I want most?” In a very real sense, this is simply a parable declaring a routine truth. What we see as valuable, we are willing to make sacrifices, even if extreme, to attain. What we don’t want, or do not see the value in, no matter that its value remains constant, will get little of our time and probably none of our necessary resources.