Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:…
In these days of safety, easy transport, and credit, the bulk of any object of desire makes comparatively little difference to its worth. But in the former ages of insecurity, difficult conveyance, limited commercial transactions, when there were no railways, banks, or paper money — one of the great recommendations of precious stones was the ease and safety with which they could be transported from one place to another .... The merchant might have to pass through districts torn with wars, or infested by robbers; if he attempted to take his gold and silver and precious wares with him, he was more than likely to be relieved of them all before he got far, and to lose his own life as well; what was he to do then? This — he might sell all he had, and invest it all in one gem of surpassing value! this he might safely hide about his person; then, clothing himself in mean attire, and taking his staff in his hand, he might set forth on foot, and travel as a pilgrim or a beggar towards his destination. Then, when the perils of the way were past, and he had reached the city to which he was bound, he had but to show his pearl, and its immense value would at once be recognized. This is a parable of ourselves. We have a journey to go, to a far city. It is useless for us to attempt to take our wealth with us: those old thieves, sin and death and hell, beset the road; they have robbed all who have passed their way. and how can we escape? Besides, a thousand enemies lay wait to make us afraid — flood, drought, fire, the dishonesty of some, the incompetence of others — all these are ready to deprive us of our wealth. Even our loved ones we cannot take with us. Lonely we came into this world, lonely we must go out of it; no human companion can go down with us to the grave. Is there then nothing, no treasure, which we may take in safety with us, and keep securely by us? Yes, there is one; even the pearl of great price, Jesus Christ. No one can deprive us of that treasure; it is beyond the reach of any enemy or thief. And when we reach the end of our journey, with Him for our Saviour and Friend, then shall we find ourselves passing rich, although we have nothing at all beside, where Jesus is Lord of all, and where everything takes its value only from Him, there is He Himself the one possession which includes in itself the possession of everything worth having.
(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: