Derek looks at the Parable of the Pearl of Great Value and through his eyes we see Jesus, gazing upon that pearl. As individuals, we are that pearl and we are worth all He gave for love. God’s love is individual, everlasting, it precedes time, and it is irresistible. It cost Him all He had.
It’s good to be with you again as we continue with our theme for this week: Extravagant Love, a theme which will bring you into a new dimension in God, both in appreciating God and in responding to Him.
Everything about God is greater and grander than we can comprehend, but this is particularly true of His love. The very nature of God is love. The word I’ve chosen to describe it is “extravagant.” I deliberately chose a rather unusual and not too religious word, because I wanted to get away, somehow, religious stereotypes. So I’m talking about God’s love as extravagant.
Our human love is often so petty and so stingy, so self-centered. But God’s love is not like that. It’s vast, it’s boundless, it’s extravagant. Let me remind you of the prayer that Paul prayed for all of us in Ephesians 3:14-19:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. [To comprehend what God has for us, we have to first be strengthened by His Spirit. Something has to be created in us as a receptacle for what He wants to put into us. And then this is what He wants to put into us. Listen to how Paul goes on.] And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Notice, what God wants to put into this vessel that He creates in us by His Holy Spirit is all the fullness of His love. He wants us to know all the dimensions of His love, how wide, how long, how high, how deep. He wants to know a love that passes knowledge. And I suggested yesterday, it’s a love that can’t be known by the intellect, but it can be apprehended by the Spirit, through the revelation of the Scripture and of the Holy Spirit.
In my talk yesterday I used the parable of the treasure in the field as a standard by which to measure God’s love. This is the parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field.”
I interpreted the parable this way, the man is Jesus, the field is the world, the treasure is God’s people in the world. Jesus really didn’t want the field, but He had to buy the field to get the treasure. And it cost it all He had, but He did it with joy because of His love for the treasure that would be His. I want to emphasize that all through this week of talks, it cost Him all He had.
In my talk today I’m going to focus on the parable that immediately follows: the pearl of great value. The first parable, the treasure in the field reveals the measure of Christ’s love for His people collectively, that’s the treasure. But this second parable, I believe, the parable of the pearl of great value, reveals the measure of Christ’s love for each human soul, individually. I want to tell you that it is very, very important for each of us to appreciate how God loves us individually, as an individual, as a person, not just as part of a group. This is a parable now in Matthew 13:45-46:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Let’s interpret this. I believe it’s in line with the previous parable. The merchant is Jesus, and I want to point out He was not just a tourist, He wasn’t just a window-shopper, He was a person who really knew the value of what He was looking for. And when He found this one pearl, He realized that it would be a good bargain to sell all He had just to buy that one pearl. How many of us would do that? How many of us would see a stone so precious, with such tremendous value that we would part with everything that we had just to won that one precious jewel? Well, that’s like the love of Jesus. It’s extravagant.
The cost of the field is the same as the cost of the pearl. It’s all He had. And in my talk tomorrow I’m going to analyze just what that meant for Jesus giving all He had. What does a pearl suggest? Well, I think one thing it suggests in Scripture is suffering. It’s interesting that all the gateways to the New Jerusalem are made of pearls. And I believe the one thing that tells us is, there’s no way into the New Jerusalem except the way of suffering. There’s no other gateway. You see I understand (I’m no expert on pearls) that a pearl is caused by some kind of irritation in the oyster. It’s really the product of something going wrong inside the oyster.
And then in the process of making that pearl marketable, many things have to be done. It has to be raised from the depths of the sea. It has to be removed from the oyster and it has to be subjected to various processes. It’s rather like the treasure in the field, it takes a lot of work to make it ready. Jesus bought the field, but He leaves it to His servants to make the treasure prepared for Him and likewise to make the pearl ready for Him. But finally there comes forth that smooth, beautiful, gleaming pearl.
Now, I want you to picture something. Picture Jesus holding just that one pearl in His hand, looking down at it with inexpressible love, and saying to it, “It was for you I paid that price. I gave all I had.” I want you to see this as something very personal, very individual. Not something collective, not a group, but Jesus with just one pearl in the palm of His hand, speaking to that pearl saying, “It was for you I paid that price. I gave all I had.”
And then I want you to go one step further, and this is so important, I want you to say to yourself, “I was that pearl. I’m that pearl. If there had been nobody else that would have been redeemed, Jesus would have died just for me.” I want you to see that. You see, so many of us struggle with a sense of unworthiness, inadequacy, rejection. We wonder whether we are really wanted. It’s so important to see that each of us is a pearl for which Jesus gave all He had.
Now I want to tell you four simple, but very important facts about God’s love. First God’s love is individual. Second it’s everlasting. Third it precedes time. And fourth it’s irresistible. Let me say those things again: God’s love is individual, everlasting, it precedes time, and it’s irresistible. Just let’s look at some scripture that illustrate those four points. First of all that God’s love is both individual and everlasting. I want to turn to a beautiful scripture in Jeremiah 31:3. I’m going to read it in the King James Version. One great advantage of the King James Version is that it has such words as thou and thee and ye and you. In other words, it distinguishes when the person addressed is singular and when the persons addressed are plural. And sometimes it’s very important to know that it’s singular and this is one of those cases. This is what Jeremiah says:
“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, [it’s not a new thing, it’s from old] saying, Yea, I have loved thee [individually, personally] with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
So, God’s love is of old. It’s individual. It’s everlasting and it’s out of His love that He draws us to Himself. And then let’s see that God’s love precedes time. For this we’ll turn to Ephesians 1:4-5:
“For he [that is God] chose us in him [that’s Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ...”
Now there’s two possible ways of punctuating that verse. You can say, “... to be holy and blameless in his sight in love...” Or you can say, “...to be holy and blameless in his sight. (period) In love he predestined us...”
But, whichever you say, the fact remains that God’s love precedes time. Before the creation of the world, God loved us, He chose us and He predestined us. He arranged the course of His life so that we would encounter Him and encounter His love.
And then the fourth fact about God’s love is it’s irresistible. There’s a very simple statement in the Song of Solomon 8:6 which says this, “Love is strong as death...” You see death is irresistible. When death comes, nobody can turn it way. Nobody can say, “I’m not ready. I won’t accept you.” No man has power to resist death. But Solomon says, “Love is strong as death.” And the New Testament takes us one step further because when Jesus died and rose from the dead, He proved that love is stronger than death. The most irresistible, negative force in the universe was conquered by the most irresistible positive force in the universe, the love of God. There’s an old English song that I used to hear years ago which is called “Love Will Find A Way” and it says this:
“Over the mountains under the fountains love will find a way...”
The message is, love always gets to its objectives, it’s irresistible. It accepts no barriers. It will go through anything, over anything, under anything, but it will get where it wants. That’s like the love of God.
So think about that. God’s love is individual, everlasting, it precedes time, it’s irresistible. And then picture yourself again, as the pearl in the hand of Jesus. Say to yourself, “His love for me is individual and everlasting. It precedes time. It is irresistible.” Then remember what it cost Him, all He had. And stop to say thank you.
Our time is up for today. I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this same time. Tomorrow I’ll continue with this theme: Extravagant Love. I’ll be analyzing more fully just what it meant for Jesus.