Book Reflection // August 20, 2022
The Parables of Jesus by James Montgomery Boice
Chapter 3 // Matthew 13:44-46
The parables put before us now are examples of the doctrines of election and irresistible grace. There is often a misunderstanding that comes along with these two doctrines. One is that God will drag the reluctant sinner against his wishes into heaven and the second being that God will deny salvation to someone who truly seeks him. These two parables are set against both of these mischaracterizations as they demonstrate that the first and necessary step in salvation is a new heart or regeneration by God alone. Only a sinner that has been given a new heart will then have a new desire for Christ and seeing the immense value of Jesus, that person will lose everything to simply have Jesus.
The Treasure and the Pearl
It is important to first remember that the presupposition of these parables is that God has already brought about the regeneration of the two people we are looking at. The man who finds the treasure and the merchant who finds the pearl are like the soil where the gospel has been planted and is beginning to bear fruit. There is an interesting difference between the two people in these parables. First, the one who found the treasure wasn’t looking for it. He is like the person who has no apparent interest in Christ, until one day his eyes are opened and he sees the irresistible love of Jesus. This is an illustration of Isaiah 65:1, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.” The second person seems to be searching intentionally for God and salvation and when he finds Jesus presented as the only means of salivation, he is overjoyed.
Pursuing the Prize
Here we now come to the central focus of the parables. Both of the people may have come to this point from different perspectives, but their reactions to finding Christ are identical.
- They recognized the value of what they had found. Both of the people in the parable could easily recognize the value of the treasure and the pearl that was found. Is it surprising that neither of these people walked away from the valuable item that was found? If we were walking along the path in a field and stumbled across an immensely valuable treasure, we would be labeled foolish to just shrug our shoulders and walk away. No, the wise person will move to the second step once they have identified the treasure.
- They were determined to have it. There is a necessary next step after finding and identifying the treasure. There must rightly be a determination to attain this valuable treasure. In both cases of the parable, the finders had to make a drastic life altering decision. Priorities would have to be adjusted and lifestyles would have to necessarily change. There would need to be a lot of time and effort. What’s the price we must all pay? “The price is only that you be willing to come to God in God’s way.” We must do away with our self-righteousness and trust in Christ alone for salvation.
- They sold everything to have it. Once the value had been identified and the determination to have it declared, both people sold everything to make the purchase. There was no holding back. There was no half-way in this action. They sold everything they had. “Clearly, it is a picture of renouncing everything that might be a hindrance to attaining that great prize.” This is the crux of the matter. We must rid ourselves of old prejudices and self-righteousness. We must rid ourselves of sinful pleasures as we love Christ through obedience to his commandments.
- They acquired the treasure. The actual purchase of the treasure is important. “It stresses that Christ must actually become ours by faith, which is the means of appropriation.” There must be an intellectual, emotional, and volitional action in this purchase. Faith is not a group event. We cannot simply trust in the faith of our spouse, parent or friend. Faith is an individual matter.
So, what do we learn from these parables? The cost of salvation is simple… Me. Jesus wants me. All of me. Not just the bits and pieces I am willing to give over to him. If I have truly seen the value of this treasure and I see the beauty of this pearl that is above all others, then I will not hold back. I will give every fiber of my being to Jesus. My thoughts. My desires, My motivations. My goals. My ambitions. My finances. My relationships. My material things. I will sell off all that hinders me from loving Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is that irresistible grace of Jesus. Once I see the beauty of Jesus, I will want nothing else. I will be satisfied with nothing else. I will only want Jesus, no matter the cost.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.Psalm 84:10