Open Matthew 13:45-46.
Did you hear the one about the art lover who found an original by someone she and her husband admired? She texted the details to get his opinion. Between meetings, he rushed back a reply, “No. Price too high.” But his fumbling fingers missed the full stop. The text she received read, “No price too high.”
Did you hear the one Jesus told about the pearl merchant? He found the one he’d been waiting for, the elusive pearl with flawless shape, glistening tone, and perfect lustre. He traded everything away to have the thing he’d been waiting his whole life to find.
For Jesus, God’s reign over the world is that one thing worth trading everything for. Like the pearl merchant you might recognize it as the thing you’ve been searching for. Or you may not have been searching; perhaps you just stumbled on it, like treasure buried in a field. Either way, when you see it for what it is — the possibility of everything on earth functioning as beautifully as it was designed to do — what value do you place on it?
What price would you pay for God’s reign to come to earth?
- A world without poverty, where no one says, “This is all mine!” while others starve.
- A world without war, where no one loses loved ones blown apart or executed for political reasons.
- A world without oppression, where no powerful people force themselves on others.
- A world where those who long for right to be done are finally satisfied.
- A world where mercy comes to those who yearn for it.
- A world where people with pure motives experience God in their community.
- A world where those who make peace are known as the sovereign’s children.
That’s Jesus’ vision of the world as God’s kingdom.
In his own words (5:3–9):
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Would you give everything for this kind of world? Would you relinquish ownership and power, and hand control to God? What value has Jesus’ kingdom vision for you?
Maybe it’s too dangerous to live like that in a world where people to evil things. Perhaps you’d say, “I will when everybody else does. In the meantime, I want my guns to keep me safe, and my money to ensure my freedom.”
This is too important to wait until everybody else does it. Jesus calls you to go out on a limb and experience the sheer joy of implementing God’s rule now, in the broken world. Yes, you’ll be hurt doing it. You’ll be seen as a threat to those who want control. They’ll bad-mouth you, hunt you down, and try to shut you down.
That’s all part of the blessing of representing his kingship:
Matthew 5:10-12 (paraphrased)
Blessed are those who are hunted down for representing what’s right; they already have heaven’s reign. You have the blessing when they mock you, and hunt you down, and spread fake news about you because you represent me. Celebrate and party! Heaven’s reign is more than enough compensation. They’ve always hunted down those who speak for the heavenly king.
What’s it worth to you to have Jesus’ vision come to earth? Is this a big enough vision that you would trade everything else you’re invested in, for this one thing — God’s governance of the earth?
The pearl merchant knew this was what he’d always been searching for. No price too high.
What others are saying
Ed Stetzer, Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation electronic edition (Nashville: B&H, 2012):
Once we understand the unmatched value of kingdom living, we’ll want to pursue it with everything we’ve got. Instead of following the pattern of pivoting away from the lost, poor, hurting, and needy, insulating ourselves from other people’s struggles, we’ll go where people need us the most. Instead of finding another gymnastics class to add to our family’s already overblown schedule, we’ll let the kingdom direct how we orient our children’s lives, investing our time and resources into things that reflect Christ’s calling. Instead of retiring at sixty-five into self-absorbed inactivity and the fruits of our career labors, we’ll consider ourselves redeployed into an army of revolutionaries more interested in collecting kingdom fruit than souvenirs and seashells.
Because that’s where joy is found.
Robert W. Yarbrough, “The Kingdom of God in the New Testament: Matthew and Revelation,” in The Kingdom of God, ed. C. W. Morgan and R. A. Peterson, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 116:
In this parable as in others, Jesus interprets his ministry in terms of “kingdom” and implies that nothing of greater value is conceivable in this life.
Timothy A. Friedrichsen, “The Temple, a Pharisee, a Tax Collector, and the Kingdom of God: Rereading a Jesus Parable (Luke 18:10–14a)” in Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2005): 101:
How does the merchant (Matt 13:45-46) finance even the most basic needs after he “sells all that he has” to purchase a pearl?
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